Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why Hire a Designer? (Part One)

OK, this is a topic I've wanted to write about since before this blog ever came to fruition. There are so many misconceptions out there about what it means to work with a designer, and I'm going to attempt - in a multipart series that I'll revisit time and again - to clear them up. So here is entry No. 1 of many.

Misconception #1: A designer is not in my budget.

Maybe so. But if you're planning to spend money on your space - in other words, plotting a renovation/redecorating/home improvement project of any type - consulting a professional designer could actually save you money rather than cost you more. How? For one, a designer can help you avoid expensive mistakes. I've seen so many people - including myself pre-design school - make purchases for their homes that didn't work out the way they envisioned them. They bought a sofa that was a few inches too long for the room, leaving no space for a side table. Or they bought that luscious purple velvet chaise they thought was sooooo cute in the store and found that it looked garish in their family room. Or they painted their bedroom wall what they thought was the perfect shade of gold, only to find that the cool light of the north-facing room turned it canary. You see my point? In all these scenarios, a designer's guidance could have saved the day - and saved the client money or time or both.

But designers can help in more ways than preventing costly mistakes. One of the biggest benefits of consulting a designer - even if you simply pay for a few hours of advice - is that a designer will look at the big picture and help you design your space according to a plan. It's amazing how much buyer's remorse can be prevented when each purchase made for your home - even if there's a year between purchases - fills in one piece of the preconceived larger puzzle. There's no switching gears in the middle of the unfinished project. No buying furniture in the wrong color/size/style.

Your best bet when starting a design project is to look at the space/room/house as a whole, plan it out according to your personal taste and style, and fill in the puzzle pieces one by one as time and money allows. What a designer brings to the table in this scenario is specialized knowledge about how the elements and principles of design work together to create a harmonious whole. A designer will help you find pieces that work with the scale of your space in styles/shapes/colors that work with each other. A designer will plan your space by creating a scale drawing and furniture plan that will ensure that the space will function - and this word is key - in a way that fits your lifestyle and makes your life easier rather than more stressful and frustrating. A designer will ensure that rooms and spaces in your home flow easily from one to the other by use of line, rhythm, color, texture, scale and so on.

And last but not least, a designer opens you up to a whole new world of resources to help you make your space the best it can be. You know all those products in your favorite magazines followed by the words "to the trade?" Hello? Trade! Right here! Designers can help you get exactly what you want. And if it doesn't exist, we can design it and have it made for you. Yes, you get what you pay for, and yes, a lot of what designers do can get expensive. But, at my firm (Virginia Rippee & Associates) at least, we work with clients whose budgets fall into every range - and we treat them all the same, whether they hire us to do a top-to-bottom design of a 5,000-square-foot house or to space plan a one-bedroom condo.


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