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How to Work With an Interior Designer

The vast majority of you do not need to hire an interior designer or an interior decorator in order to decorate your home beautifully. You can purchase most "to-the-trade-only" products without paying hefty commissions to a designer or decorator. There are three reasons why most people hire an interior designer: practical advice, consumer advice, and design advice. Only one of those reasons is good for the consumer.

Practical advice: Practical advice includes things like yardage estimates for upholstery and window treatments, advice on which fabrics will look the best made up in a particular window treatment style, choosing a wallcovering for a bathroom that won't fall off the wall from being exposed to steam, etc.

Never hire an interior designer for this kind of advice. Interior designers aren't educated on these matters, and frequently steer their clients wrong. Plus, you can get this kind of advice free from the people who actually do the design labor: wholesale drapery seamstresses, wallcovering installers, etc.

Consumer advice: Consumer advice covers getting the best bargains on home furnishings. Interior designers are not trained in ways to get the client the best value for their money. Plus, they have a vested interest in getting the client to spend as much money as possible. Most designers are paid a commission on what they can persuade the consumer to purchase. Everytime they save the consumer money, they cut their own paychecks.

This Web site is your best source of consumer advice.

Design advice: Design advice covers color schemes, furniture arrangement, furniture styles, and other design matters. This is what interior designers are trained to do. This is the only reason why anyone should ever hire an interior designer. Even so, the vast majority of consumers don't really need a designer. Check out Kimberly's "Ten Bad Reasons To Hire An Interior Designer" .

The basic problem with most interior designers is that they've been trained in school to decorate Buckingham Palace West. However, there just aren't that many palaces to go around. As a result, these interior designers graduate with training in art history, historical furniture periods, and drawing gorgeous pictures of fantasy window treatments and upholstery. They usually don't get much training in practicality and getting the most value for the consumer's dollar, because these skills are not in great demand at the Buckingham Palace Wests of the world.

So, when these designers get their degrees and go out into the real world, almost all of them end up decorating average homes to make a living. Only a few designers can be at the top of their profession and decorate nothing but palaces. The rest have no choice but to work with average customers decorating average homes.

Average homes need attractive, comfortable, practical, long-lasting furnishings that won't use up all of the customer's life savings. If you have an average home and must balance the needs of your family and your pocketbook against your tastes in design, an interior designer is probably not the best person to help you.

Hiring an interior designer who has intensively studied art history and historical furniture periods to decorate an average, normal home makes as much sense as hiring a neurosurgeon to treat a case of the flu. It's overkill.

Hiring a person who is vastly overqualified for the job at hand is a big waste of money. All you will end up doing is paying much more money than you have to for skills that won't be used to benefit you because they are not necessary or appropriate in your situation. The question is not "Can an interior designer decorate my home beautifully?" Of course they can. The question you should be asking yourself as you read this chapter is: "Is hiring an interior designer the most cost-effective way for me to decorate my home beautifully?" For the vast majority of you, the answer will be "no".

However, there are certain customers who can benefit from an interior designer's highly specialized (and highly expensive) training. There are five good reasons to hire an interior designer. In these situations, consumers will be paying for skills that they truly need and will get good value for their money. If this sounds like you, check out Kimberly's "Five Good Reasons To Hire An Interior Designer"

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