Frequently Asked Questions About Interior Design Firms

We love our clients and feel that being open and honest right from the start can help us create a strong, collaborative relationship and eliminate confusion. So, as you begin your design journey (yes, it really is a journey), we’ve put together some answers to commonly asked questions you may find helpful.

Why is hiring a designer valuable to a decorating or renovation job?

Sometimes it’s hard to understand the value of a designer when there seems to be so much on the internet that tells homeowners how to do their own design work. Indeed, you can do it yourself, but a designer will:

  • Determine and design the correct sizing of furniture or built-ins and work out the best room layout
  • Offer suggestions or shopping locations you may not have thought of or have heard about
  • Provide valuable time management solutions and eliminate slowdowns in decision making
  • Create more effective communication between you and the contractor
  • Interpret your ‎vision into something achievable
  • Bring experience to the table as well as trades, companies or suppliers that have a good record of service
  • Be a calming presence during what can be a difficult time for some people.
  • A designer is your advocate on-site, making sure you get the best space possible. They can often see things that contractors missed.

What happens in the first meeting?

The first meeting is often the longest as this allows us both to get to know each other. We tour your space, discuss your goals and determine the best direction to move the project forward.

‎In this meeting, you can show us pictures, describe your thoughts, discuss your design needs and tell us your budget. It's at this meeting we all need to "put it all out on the table"! If we know what you want to do we can address priorities and cost. We can determine how involved you want us to be and what your "homework" is.

After we leave we take all this info and discuss the sequence of next appointments with Charlotte. She will then coordinate these future meetings with you to ensure they work with your schedule.

Then we prioritize the projects based on delivery time. For instance, a big project with a longer timeline will be started before a smaller project in your home.

How do I create an accurate budget?

It’s easiest to create a budget room by room and then add up each room’s cost for an overall estimate.

Generally, things will cost more than you think, after all, when was the last time you bought a sofa or hired a painter? If your house has increased in value, assume the fixtures and furnishings that go into the house will have increased in cost as well!

Go shopping if you don’t know the cost of things. For instance, go to retailers where you would purchase things from; not the cheapest place, remember you’re improving your home. Check out the price of a sofa, hardwood furniture (tables, etc) and bathroom fixtures. This will give you an idea of how to gauge the cost of things realistically.

What is the order of things in a project?

The order of a project depends on the scope of work. Basically, the largest piece of furniture gets selected first and then this filters down to the smallest pieces.

In renovations, it starts with:

  • Put the plan on paper
  • Review with contractors
  • Obtain quotes
  • Prioritize the work, create an order.

We are familiar with the process and will share this with you once the order is created.

Sometimes during a project we’ll shift our focus to another room which may seem random. Let me explain.

If you have a bathroom renovation to complete but would also like assistance to find a large area carpet for another room, we may do both simultaneously even though one is not connected to the other.

This is what I call, "picking the low hanging fruit". A bathroom renovation takes a while to plan, coordinate and execute, so why not go and pick a carpet when we have the time to get that off the list while we wait for other things to happen? It may appear random but this is a method for saving time.

What are drawings and why do I pay for these?

Drawings are plans of a space or room that locate walls, furniture and fixtures etc.

A CAD (computer-aided design) drawing puts everything into scale and shows exactly what fits and what doesn’t. Drawings are extremely valuable for furniture sizing and placement and can save you a lot of money in the long run as they eliminate any question as to where something will be placed.

Renovation or kitchen drawings are a tangible thing that contractors can use to price a job and they help to clarify what is envisioned for the space‎ before construction.

Renovation drawings are 75 percent correct, and represent the optimal design. However, we don’t know what’s behind the walls so the proposed design may change once the wall removal begins. This is typical in all drawings whether for new construction or renovation.

It’s also important to note that you own the drawings and can choose the contractor and trades you prefer to work with. Alternatively, we will recommend trades for specific jobs. You can have anyone quote on the work.

Drawings are tremendously helpful to you, too as they illustrate what is going to fit and what needs to be purchased.

Why can't everything be done in eight weeks?

Once our clients hire us, they often think we can control the timeline. Like you, we want the project completed efficiently but it takes time to get all the materials selected, concept drawings finished, items shipped etc. All the different stages of a project adhere to their own schedules.

It will be one of the first things you’ll ask us but all we can do is an estimate. We ultimately don't control shipping‎, deliveries, manufacturing schedules etc. We will do our best to keep the project moving but every delay by someone else slows the project down. That’s why it’s important you make your decisions without delay, too. Remember, we’re partners in this and we want it to be a great experience for you.

What if I have questions or I’m worried about the design or renovation? Who do I talk to?

If you have simple design questions, please email them to us and your designer will answer what they can, quickly. If the questions are more complex we may request a meeting because sometimes it's easier to work out solutions tin person. It’s important that our communications are clear to avoid costly problems later in the process.

General questions can be sent to Charlotte and she will forward them as needed to the appropriate person or company.

If something is bothering you or isn't clear, don't wait until you are on the verge of “losing it”! Please let us know. We can't fix what we don't know about. ‎We want what you want: a happy client in a happy home!!

What’s happening with my project if I don’t see you for a while?

Some clients assume that because we aren’t seen frequently, we aren’t working. While we do have a roster of clients, we are often working on your behalf behind the scenes.

Whether its researching products, drawing plans or even contemplating ‎your space, we’re working. We keep track of our hours and bill accordingly.

In addition, office people like Charlotte or Suzanna are putting together forms for you or compiling lists or arranging delivery. A lot goes into all the moving parts of a home design project even if you don’t see it happening.

Jane Lockhart