Do You Really Need An Interior Designer?
Our take beyond the classic interior designer versus renovation contractor debate.
About to get your keys and thinking about how to go about renovating your home? One of the first questions you (and your partner, family or housemate) will face is whether or not to hire an interior designer.
There is certainly no right or wrong answer to that question, but in order to make an informed decision, it might be useful to consider the various roles an interior designer actually plays in renovating your home. With this understanding, you are not only better equipped to decide if you can undertake the project on your own, but also have a better idea of what expertise you are looking for in an ID, and can assess for these traits when you meet different IDs.
The interior designer who is a visionary lives up to his name – he designs and is a creative at heart. He will be able to interpret your needs and wants, both spoken and unspoken, and synthesize them into a coherent overall design theme. This includes the initial concept, spatial planning, and right down to details such as the tone of your floor tiles to the finish of your counter top. These IDs commonly have the ability to surprise you with unconventional ideas you had never thought of, are able to make the whole larger than the sum of its parts.
Therefore, if you are looking for quirky ideas that are less commonly seen, you might want to work with a visionary. Conversely, if you are fairly certain that you already know what you want your interior to look like or are happy with conventional designs, engaging an ID who is a visionary might be of little value to you, and you might wish to consider IDs with other strengths.
Having great design ideas mean little without proper execution. A major reason why some homeowners prefer to engage an interior designer is for their experience in simply managing a renovation project.
Project management is it the unpleasant work that has to be done for the grand vision to be realized. You will be surprised at the number of glitches, adjustments, complications, and on-the-spot decisions that have to be managed behind the scenes during the renovation process. This usually involves close coordination with the various contractors including the hacker, tiler, carpenter, plumber, electrician and so on. An interior designer is expected to competently handle all the dirty work so his client can enjoy the house in its final glory.
As what can go wrong, usually will, project management is perhaps the most underrated aspect an interior designer’s job. The difference between a positive, fuss-free renovation experience and an absolute nightmare that drags endlessly, is more often than not an ID who is able to manage the project well.
It is indeed difficult to assess an ID’s ability to manage a project before renovation commences (and after the deposit has been paid). This is why it would be advisable to do some homework before engaging an ID by reading about the experiences other clients might have through reviews they leave on platforms such as Hometrust.
The best interior designers are both good designers and good project managers.
Cream of the Crop
The best interior designers are both good designers and good project managers. However, being a good designer and manager at the same time is hard to achieve because both roles actually demand different instincts. A great designer needs to be bold and creative in order to break out of the mould whereas a great project manager tends to cautious and meticulous prioritizing smooth delivery of works by preempting potential issues.
Realistically, the best interior designers are usually great in one aspect and moderate in another. But ultimately, the best interior designer you can hope for is one who best meets your needs. One individual might wish to engage an ID who will create a stunning showpiece of a home, just as others would pray for smooth delivery of the eventual handover without any stressful hiccups. But it pays to remember that an interior designer who is poor in any single aspect could possibly produce disastrous results.
“I Know Enough to Know I Don’t Know Enough”
If after reading all of the above, you conclude that you are better off engaging an interior designer, how do you go about choosing one out of the many, many, many firms in Singapore?
When thinking about renovation and engaging and ID, most people think about their pinterest and mood boards, or perhaps a designer’s portfolio. While we agree that that is a critical part of building a dream home, we would also like to encourage you to consider the roles you expect your ID to play in the renovation process, and thus the strengths you expect your IDs to have. Is it crazy (good crazy of course) ideas you are looking for, or somebody who is ALWAYS one top of things, updating you on your reno progress even if you are in another country? Just as we are all unique individuals, IDs too, have their own styles and strengths. Your job is to find one whose strengths meet your wants and needs.
Meet and Greet
It should come as no surprise to you that we would recommend meeting IDs in person BEFORE making the decision to engage. You might think that it is extremely time consuming or mafan to find time in your busy schedule to meet IDs in person, or that it might be more convenient to just “get a quotation” but if you think about all the time, money, and heartache it will cost you if your ID or contractor is not the right fit for you or worse, is incompetent in both design and project management, you might wish you had invested some time to meet whoever it is you choose to engage. That said, even with a meet up, it can indeed still be difficult to assess an ID’s ability to manage a project before renovation commences (and after the deposit has been paid). This is why it would be advisable to do some homework before engaging an ID by reading about the experiences other clients might have through reviews they leave on platforms such as Hometrust.
What if you think you don’t need an interior designer? The simple answer is you should be a decent project manager yourself. You will have to be coordinate works amongst various contractors. A lack of experience in project management can be partially compensated with decent research and some hard work, but a creative flair for design requires both talent and hard work combined.
When meeting or choosing contractors, don’t expect them to come up with fancy designs for you, as that’s not what they are supposed to be able to do. Instead, you might want focus more on workmanship and quality of materials.
Good Luck! (and let us know how it goes by leaving a review!)