Frequently Asked Questions
What does an interior designer actually do?
For many people the term ‘interior designer’ suggests a slightly worrying ‘arty’ individual who will transform your home – but possibly not in a way that suits your taste! I hope that when we meet, you will find we are the very opposite of this. You will be telling us what you want and we will be building a picture of your taste, hopes and vision for your home based on what you say. Our aim is that when we show you our ideas for your property, you will feel we have interpreted exactly what you want in a way you couldn’t have done on your own. On a practical level, an interior designer uses their skill and experience to make your property refurbishment or makeover run as smoothly as possible. We look after the logistics of what should happen in which order including when items should be delivered. And, if you want us to, we can oversee your project from initial concepts right through to the very finish, checking the work is completed to our own exacting standards so you can get on with your life.
How do we get started?
The initial consultation is free of charge and the reason for it is to get to understand your requirements and your budget. Don’t worry if you are not entirely sure about either or both of these: I’m quite used to helping people understand what they need! This is the stage where I find out about your lifestyle, how you use your home and what you want to change, improve or refresh. We’ll also talk about your design likes and dislikes (some people prepare tearsheets from interiors magazines or use a “scrapbook” app such as Houzz or Pinterest to show me what sort of interiors they are drawn to – if you haven’t the time to the inclination to do this don’t worry, I can show you plenty of ideas…) and any practical issues such as the need for storage, what furniture (or art) you would like to keep and so on.
I can then supply a written proposal for you along with a budget and timetable. Once you decide to go ahead, you will be asked to sign a contract (details of our Terms and Conditions available on request) and to agree the budget before I start work on your behalf.
How do you budget and what are your charges?
There is no simple answer to this one so bear with me!
If you have a budget in mind, and need me to provide a complete service from design to project management, my fee will be 15% of your budget (subject to a minimum total budget of £20,000). You may have heard about designers making large amounts of mark-up on products and services they provide – well, I charge an industry standard of 20% handling charge on all services but this is charged on the trade price. So you are often paying the same or less than it would cost you if you were commissioning the work or buying the products yourself …
Or, you may have no idea of who much you need to spend. If this is the case, we can normally reach a rough figure for me to work to by the end of the initial consultation meeting, because there’s no point in my coming back to you with a proposal for work that you cannot afford. If we have to compromise in some areas, I can advise you on that.
Some people are happy to do the ordering of products and project management of contractors themselves. Of course this results in reduced fees: you simply pay for my time up to that point.
How long will my project take?
It really depends on the amount of work that needs to be done to your home. A project involving little or no structural work can be completed in a few months, but anything involving new kitchens, bathrooms or other work can take an awful lot longer. I’ll advise you on this and I try to be realistic. Oh – and be prepared to move out when the work is being done – you will regret it if you don’t!
Can you incorporate some of my ideas or items from our home?
Yes of course. Some of my best work has come about from using existing items (often art or antiques) as a starting point. And your ideas are crucial – it’s your home, not mine! As mentioned above, apps such as Pinterest and Houzz are really useful for collating your ideas/likes/dislikes. Don’t hold back in telling me about this stuff because it’s really important that I know at the outset.
When do I see your initial design ideas?
There are two stages to this. First you will see a mood board that I will have put together based on our initial meeting, which is made up of a few harmonious images encapsulating your personality and the desired personality of your home. I am an avid believer in using this method because it allows us to agree colours and mood (it’s hard to explain this in words without sounding ‘interior design-ey’ so why not look at this video) at the very outset. This will give me the direction for the design of your project, which I will present in the form of layouts, drawings and colour samples. Again the video is useful in showing this.
What if we need other contractors on the project?
I have a network of contractors from builders, carpenters and kitchen suppliers through to experts in window blinds, lighting and soft furnishings. I can coordinate the whole project using my contractors or hand the work over to your guys, should you have people you want to work with. As with everything I do, it’s flexible.
Who manages what?
This is a very good question. It’s crucial to agree at the very outset who is responsible for what. I’m very strict on this. But I’m flexible too – I’ll manage as much or as little of the project as you need. If you appoint me as the project manager, you will receive regular updates in writing and in person at status meetings. Should you decide to project manage the job yourself, I will provide detailed briefing notes and will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.
What happens if I’m not happy with your design proposals?
Because of the way I work, using a mood board to show you the direction of my creative thinking (see above), you will never be in a position where you are presented with design proposals that are a complete surprise.
There may be some details you are not comfortable with; perhaps the shape of a sofa isn’t entirely to your liking o something like that – no problem, we’ll select a slightly different style. I’m happy to tweak a few things until we’ve reached the solutions we are happy with If you change your mind completely, I would have to look at charging additional fees. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, believe me.
I work long hours during the week. How will we manage to get together?
No problem. I’m used to working with busy people. We can meet in the evening, or at weekends, or during your lunch hour. And because you will receive regular written updates, there is no need to meet up very often once the work is underway.
Is there a question we haven’t answered here? Why not get in touch and we will do our best to answer it!