Does a Professional Designer Make a Positive Difference?

Yes — When You Hire The Right Designer

Castle Designer

The right designer knows where to find the right products that reflect your personal taste, that are compatible with your home. The designer can help you fit each product into your budget priorities. Designers like this do make a difference. How many mistakes can you afford to make? Here are two examples:

Couple “A” Didn’t Hire a Designer

For the past six months, “Shirley” and “Michael” have been shopping, to furnish their new home. They purchased furniture and accessories that appealed to them. After everything was delivered and positioned, they didn’t like the results. The sofa and coffee table were too large, and didn’t coordinate with the chairs or the area rug. Their new bed dominated the master bedroom. They returned what could be returned, and sold the rest at consignment stores for considerably less than they had paid.

Couple “B” Didn’t Hire a Designer

At the same time, “Becky” and “Robert” went shopping every Saturday for all of the products to create their new kitchen. They visited dozens of tile, countertop and cabinet showrooms within 50 miles of their home, getting more confused every week. They flagged hundreds of photos online and in magazines, but were unsure about how everything would fit, and what it would cost. They decided to put their project on hold.

A Professional Designer Can Make a Difference:

Both examples are not uncommon, because most homeowners don’t understand that hiring a professional designer can make a big difference, saving them frustration, time, and money. A designer should help you:

  • Establish a reasonable budget, with allowances for each item
  • Design a space plan that’s safe and functional
  • Recommend products, suppliers, and contractors
  • Guide final product choices that fit the home, budget, and lifestyle
  • Prepare detailed floor plans and elevations to:
    • Get accurate product and labor estimates
    • Define the scope of the work
    • Detail the project for permits and construction
    • Guard against change orders
    • Ensure that you get what you expect
  • Work with you, your contractors and suppliers, to achieve the best results for your budget

The most important benefit that a professional designer brings to your project is creative visualization — the ability to see the finished room (or home) down to the smallest details. Real creativity is not the same thing as copying ideas from a magazine or book, but being inspired by others’ work, and nature, to solve specific challenges unique to your project.

If “Shirley” and “Michael” had hired a designer, they would be inviting friends over to see their new home, completely furnished and accessorized. If “Becky” and “Robert” had hired a professional kitchen designer, all of their product decisions would be behind them, and their remodeling project would be underway. Professional designers can and do make a positive difference.

The best way to find a designer is referrals from family, business associates, friends, and neighbors. The next best way is through professional organizations in your area that provide names, qualifications, and contact information. In your first telephone conversation, or e-mail, provide information about what you want to achieve, how much you want to invest, and when you want your project completed. Here are two examples:

“We live in a ’70s ranch-style and we want to update the living room and dining room, which has the original carpet and draperies that need to be replaced. We are thinking about buying new furniture, but don’t know how much it will cost. We also want to change the color scheme, and maybe add some crown moulding. We want everything done by the holidays, so we can entertain.”

“We live in a ’90s traditional two-story home. We’ve lived there for seven years, and intend to stay for at least another ten years. Our kitchen needs total updating: New wood cabinets, stainless steel appliances, manmade stone countertops. Our #1 priority is a 36″ ‘professional’ range and hood. We’d like to keep the existing windows and doors, if possible, and we’d like to stay within a $55,000 maximum budget. We don’t intend to do the work until after the holidays.”

Questions and Fees

In the first contact with a designer, whether an e-mail or telephone conversation, ask the following questions:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have a specialty?
  • How do you communicate your ideas (i.e., floor plans and sketches, samples and pictures of products, and/or verbal descriptions)?
  • How do you get compensated?

There is no industry standard for designers to get paid for their experience, talent, and ability to visualize creative solutions. Here are most of the ways that designers get compensated:

  • Flat percentage of the project value
  • Smaller percentage of the project value, plus a design fee (hourly rate or flat fee)
  • Markup on all products they provide for your project
  • Smaller markup on all products they provide, plus a design fee (hourly rate or flat fee)
  • Only a design fee (hourly rate or flat fee), with no markup on products they provide

The designer should ask some questions, to get valuable information, and show genuine interest in helping you achieve your goals. Be wary of any designer who is too “full of themself,” i.e., boasting about what they’ve accomplished, or someone who cannot or will not tell you about how they work (and charge); many make extra income by getting “kick-backs” for referrals. It’s your home, your project, your goals, and your money.

If you’d like more information about how D. P. Design can help you with your remodeling project, please call 503-632-8801. Or send an e-mail inquiry,

© Copyright 2015 D. P. Design “See the Possibilities. Create a Positive Difference.”