4 Secrets That Interior Designers Won’t Tell You
1. Great Subcontractors are Worth Their Weight in Gold. No matter how amazing their ideas, interior designers are only as good as their finished projects The key is to pick the right professionals and craftspeople to help along the way. Finding great upholsterers, painters, carpenters, and other professionals can be the difference between an amazing end product and ending up with a mile long list of “fixes” and touch ups. Here’s another hint: most designers try to keep their preferred subcontractors secret for fear that they will get too busy and raise prices (or worse, compromise quality). When you’re looking for great talent at a fair price, ask around and see who the professional designers in your area are using. It might take some digging, but it will be worth it!
2. Staying Current is Hard Work. Just like professional athletes, good interior designers work hard to stay in shape. Keeping up on the latest design trends and product innovations requires a lot of footwork, like meeting with manufacturers’ reps, attending industry trade shows and conventions, researching product applications, and maintaining a materials library. So it’s probably no surprise that after spending this much energy to find and integrate the coolest new trends in interior design, most of us want to be the first to debut these great new finds before we start sharing them with others. Our clients love that we bring the best ideas to the table, and we want to keep it that way.
3. A Lot Happens Behind the Scenes. From the outside, the life of an interior designer can look pretty relaxed – after all, we spend our lives surrounded by beauty; what could we have to get stressed about? There’s more than meets the eye, though. There are a lot of moving parts, and experienced designers know to expect a few road bumps in every project.
If you’re working with an interior designer, they may not share all the stressful details with you every step of the way, but there’s always something going on. For instance, in the last two months at my firm, we’ve seen: key design features suddenly backordered or out of stock long after orders were made, a tropical storm delayed shipments, port workers went on strike, creating a two-week delay at customs, fabric came in in the wrong dye lot (and at the last minute – eek!), defective chandeliers wouldn’t hang straight, and of course everyone’s familiar with the irritation of receiving items that have been damaged in shipping.
In the end, we always deliver top quality design, on time and on budget, but I have a dedicated, full-time team of awesome people working through these scenarios every day. Successful interior designers are skilled at prioritizing and thinking on their feet. If you’re undertaking a DIY design project, remember that something will almost always go wrong. The key is to take a deep breath and keep the project objectives in perspective. Also, keep an eye out for opportunities. You’d be surprised how often a “road block” turns into a chance to make new and exciting changes that you wouldn’t have thought of before. Which leads us to…
4. Design is an Ongoing Process. Good design isn’t a formula or science; it’s a process. That means that you can continue to adjust and tweak a design along the way. This is especially true when you’re talking about the art and accessories layer. You should always begin with a clear objective and a plan, but allow yourself some flexibility along the way. Even the best designers will make a few changes here and there in the final stages of design. The more costly and permanent layers like background and trim design are critical – you’ve got to get them right the first time. But furniture, art and accessories can be worked (or reworked) in the final stages to get to a perfect harmony. Many designers continue to contemplate these adjustments in their head as the layers of a design unfold. Sometimes it’s most productive to do it that way. This stage of contemplation and evaluation is a real part of the process and should be expected – especially if it’s your own home. Allow yourself a little leeway, and most of all, have fun with it!