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  • Writer's pictureBren Petrunick

Our Key Tips for Working with an Interior Designer

When people think about hiring an interior decorator their vision often starts and stops at aesthetics – colour palettes, materials, furniture and accessories. But in reality, a designer’s job digs much deeper beyond those surface details, to a home’s flow and function, and of course, fashion.


For many, hiring a design pro is well worth the investment. If you’re considering it, here are three bits of advice to help you make the most of this resource, your budget and ultimately, your home.


Bren Petrunick, Creative Director and Taylor Rumble, Interior Designer doing a design consultation in Niagara on the Lake

1. Choose a designer who “gets you.”

Personality matters – You and your design professional are about to get very close, at least for the duration of the project. This relationship is essential if your goal is a home that reflects your preferred aesthetic and desired lifestyle. It’s also important that you and your designer are on the same page style- wise. While it’s true that a good designer will put their own preferences aside in favour of the clients’, it always helps when we don’t have to go against our basic instincts. Visit the designer’s website and flip through their

project portfolio, to make sure you like what you see.


Social and environmental responsibility are playing an increasingly important role in the designer-client relationship. Work with someone that supports your standards, whether it’s environmentally friendly products and practices, locally made goods, or those that prioritize health and well-being.


2. Know that time is money.


Like all professionals, designers charge for their time. Understand the designer’s

contract and billing before you commit. Some designers bill based on the project budget, adding their mark-up to that amount. Others bill by the hour, which may include an up-front deposit followed by scheduled payments until the work is completed. Some charge a fixed fee, based on the scope of work that includes the design fee.

Regardless of the billing style, spend your time (translation: billable hours) wisely. Arrive at your consultation and follow-up appointments on time and ready to discuss your goals, questions, concerns and ideas. If you’ve been assigned “homework” with a due date, such as choosing a colour scheme or finalizing your list of preferred materials, complete and submit it on time. Delays will only have a domino effect on subsequent work, costing you time and money.


Luxury fabric swatches next to an interior designers hand on a laptop

3. Let the designer do what they do best.


This is arguably the most important piece of advice in this regard. As the homeowner and client, you can do everything right – researching the designer’s work, checking references, ensuring the design concept aligns with your vision, and that the materials and trades reflect your budget and expected level of quality.


But when plans are approved and the work starts, it can all go off the rails if the client tries to conduct the train, so to speak. Whether your project is a total rebuild, a major renovation or a minor redesign, step back and let your designer do their job.


Don’t worry, a good designer will pull you in when necessary, and they’ll communicate with you as they reach key milestones along the way.


A word to the wise: Stick to the approved plan. Changing details of the design mid-way through the process is counter-productive, delaying the work and, as we’ve already established, time is money! These touchpoints are an opportunity to flag any issues that need to be corrected, before we get too deep into the work.


No two designers are alike, from their personality, to their signature style and their modus operandi. But rest assured that when you choose to work with a professional designer, you’re putting your home in the hands of someone who not only has the experience and skill to turn your “fixer upper” into a dream home, but who also truly loves what they do in making a house a home.


Bren Petrunick, Creative Director, Simply White Interiors in a green dress at her computer

Curious to learn more about our Design Team? Read our story, and meet our Niagara on the Lake team by clicking here.


Bren Petrunick Creative Director, Simply White Interiors Niagara on the Lake

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