You learn a lot when you hire a designer. We’ll teach you about how to make the most of your home, what kind of sofa will fit in your living room, and what countertops will coordinate with your cabinets. We’ve got libraries full of design knowledge that we love to share with our clients, and we love to see your eyes light up when you see your home coming together in ways you never expected. On the whole, designers are a very generous group who want to share what we’ve learned so you can love your home every single day.
But there are five things that a lot of designers won’t tell you.
Sometimes they don’t think these five things are important (they are), and sometimes they think you won’t be interested or that you won’t get it.
I don’t believe any of that nonsense.
I think you know your home best, and I think it’s an honor to be invited in. I love learning exactly what you love about your family home, and I love working with you to transform the things you don’t. I want you to know five things before you hire any professional designer.
1. Not all designers have been trained in color knowledge.
Color training, believe it or not, is not part of the mandated curriculum in design school! If you need help selecting the best paint colors for your home (and everyone does), be sure to ask your designer or decorator right upfront if she or he has taken color courses and has a certification in color expertise. The distinction between a trained color expert and an untrained one is the same as between a trained interior designer and an untrained one!
One pro tip: a good designer knows that a paint color for the walls is one of the last design items that should be chosen.
2. Shop your home FIRST for furniture and accessories.
Designers love to find new things for your home, and you probably do, too. But some can get carried away, and you’ll end up spending much more than you really need to or can even afford. Look around your own home first, and make sure your designer is doing the same. You might have just the perfect chair for the living room corner in another room. Look at home first, and then go out shopping. You’ll save so much money.
3. You can hire by the hour.
You do not have to bring in a designer to complete an entire room for you. You may want to do things yourself, which is great! But sometimes you get stuck on your project, such as choosing a kitchen wall color. You can hire a color expert (like me!) to help you with the things you need a professional eye for, and it doesn’t have to turn into a months-long contract to do everything from top to bottom. Having a designer help you only on certain design elements leaves plenty of room for you to incorporate your own personality and design inspiration into the space.
4. Stick with the classics.
Incorporating classics gives you the foundation to build on with the trendy items and accessories, but some designers aren’t interested in the classics. Sometimes, we can’t help it! We’re immersed in this industry, and we love to see and be part of the next big trends in home design and decor. Some of us want to create rooms full of trends just to try our hand at it, just because it’s fun to stretch ourselves and try something new.
Be wary of a designer who suggests the same trends you see in all the magazines. Your room will look great right now, but it’ll be dated in five years. Instead, stick with the classics, stick with the colors you love, and partner with a designer who does the same.
Those of us with real homes and real budgets can’t afford to be redecorating according to the trends every five years. You’ll be much happier with your home for much longer if you find a designer who respects and can work with classic design.
5. Don’t forget about lighting!
A well-designed room is best appreciated when you can see it, right? Don’t let your designer choose your lighting fixtures based solely on how good-looking they are. They should be attractive and they should align with the overall decor, yes, but they also have a job to do! Lighting fixtures are work horses in a space, and a good designer will create a lighting plan for you that brings entirely new function and love to a space.
Every room should have three layers of lighting: ambient, task, and accent.
Ambient lighting is your overhead stuff: chandeliers, track lighting, etc. It’s what you turn on by default when you walk into a room.
Task lighting comes into play when you need to complete a specific task. These are the lamps you read by, for example, or the under-cabinet lighting that you use when preparing dinner.
Accent lighting brings the WOW factor. It’s the little lights aimed at your artwork or bookshelf; it’s lighting with personality, because it helps you draw attention to the items and places in your home that are important to you. Don’t make the mistake of skipping out on accent lighting. It’s one of those things that makes your house a home!
This secret post is the first in a series that I’ll share exclusively with newsletter subscribers like you. Have a design question of your own? Email me, and it might show up in a future issue!