After a decade of working with clients inside and outside their homes, I’ve realised there are quite a few interior design myths running rampant through NSW. Today, I’m sharing the top 5 that I hear, along with why they are more fiction than fact.
Can you guess what they are?
Design Myth 1: Designers just shop and pick beautiful things all day… what a dream job!
Why it’s false…
You know, I actually dislike shopping and rarely do it. I find myself shopping for clothes when we holiday, because it’s about the only time I get to do it. Probably not the best idea, starting from scratch in a new place with shops and products I don’t know. Writing this I am wondering if I should hire a stylist or find a better way to clothes shop, but back to decorating….
Yes, there are so many beautiful fabrics and beautiful products out there, and it brings us tangible feelings of joy when we look at beautiful things. And yes, I do visit trade showrooms to find the perfect sofa for a client and sit in every chair to determine if it’s better for ladies or men, lounging or conversation, big people or little. That’s why I am so confident that my recommendations to you will be the best ones.
However, this is only a tiny fraction of my job — 5% of it.
50% of my time is dedicated to client service, which is code for figuring out what people really want and need, helping them decide what actions to take, helping them see which investments are the wisest, and motivating them to get the thing/help they really want or need for their own good.
Another 40% of my time is spent on project management. Yes, 40%. You would not believe how much leg work goes into actually creating a room. It can take me a second to see a space and just know what do, but then we have to reconcile that with a client brief, checking that the details work out, then setting it up and implementing it.
For our full-service custom decorating projects, we put in about 60 hours to take a large room from “go” to “woah!” And we’re professionals who do this as a career. Can you imagine how long it would take an amateur?
That final 10% is split between the creative problem solving aspect of design and the creating the design itself with furnishing selections. Just 10%! Bet you’re glad you knocked on this door… 😉
Design Myth 2. Paying a designer means you have less to spend on your project
Why it’s false…
While, yes, you do need to pay me for my time and expertise (just as you would any service provider), hiring a designer can actually save you quite a lot in the long-run. I’ve completed over 150 projects now, and it’s safe to say that I know exactly what I am doing and how to manage a budget properly.
For example, I helped a client with budget-friendly kitchen and bathroom renovation a few years back, and her post-project feedback was that I saved her money because she would have selected more expensive tiles and fittings, thinking that they were required to get the look, function, endurance she wanted. She got my fee back in practical savings.
Hiring a designer means you also get a professional who looks at your project holistically. I can tell at a glance what will look good together, which materials are worth the investment for your specific goals (and which are not), and how to manage your project as efficiently as possible. When done well the first time, you won’t feel inclined to redesign your home anytime soon. Then, there’s the time a designer saves you…
Here’s another example. Recently, a friend of mine spent about a whole 6 weeks of her annual leave getting her Airbnb furnished. I wondered… What is 6 weeks of your time worth in salary?
If you are a professional running a business, of course, delegating is a complete no-brainer in this situation. You would have easily earned the cost of a designer in those 6 weeks AND had the peace of mind that your project was being completed properly.
When you invest in a design expert who has real knowledge and experience, you are saving the time and money it would take to get all that experience yourself.
We created this kitchen design concept in Deakin that allowed our clients to keep their original flooring, saving quite a bit of the budget for more of the function and quality they wanted, such as custom joinery and pendants. The best part? It feels fresh and classic!
Design Myth 3: A designer can’t possibly help you without coming out to your home
Why it’s false…
I know we all want to think our homes are one-of-a-kind unicorns, but remember, I have seen hundreds of homes across the ACT and personally helped design and decorate more than 150 of them. It takes a lot to surprise me these days.
During the initial conversations about a project’s scope, how long it takes, what it will cost, and how much to spend on adding value, I don’t need to be in a room to give really solid advice. My experience knows that these are the first things you need to start with before we get down to talking about putting a blue sofa in the corner with a patterned cushion.
Actually, I’ve even created a great workbook to help you start figuring out your project scope. You can grab it here. I even offer a free 15-minute chat over Zoom or the phone, and I can provide great advice before you get started.
Once we have moved past scope to the details of the room, yes, I do want to see what we are working with. During the pandemic, I’ve been using Zoom, and you’d be surprised just how much can be achieved online. With a video call and a few measurements from you, I’ve got what I need from you to help solve problems.
Surprising, even colour questions are doable over Zoom. If you are telling me you want to achieve X or work with Y and you currently have Dulux Antique White USA picked out, or Lexicon, I know you’ve probably picked a white that’s either too cream or too blue. See how I already know that without seeing the room?
Paying for experience saves.
We can quickly tell you if upholstering your favourite chair in designer fabric is going to exhaust your budget before your project even starts. (Yes, I’ve seen this happen before with DIYers.)
How to Select Design Materials with Confidence
Wondering what your renovation or build will require? Download our worksheet for the 10 steps you’ll need to design the home you’ve always imagined!
Design Myth 4: If a designer gives you their sources, you can buy direct and achieve the same result
Why it’s false…
“Where did you get that from?” I hear this question all the time, and honestly, it always makes me a little annoyed. If you were at a party, would you show a doctor your itch? Or ask a broker to share tips? No, because that would be invasive (and a little creepy). You would book an appointment with them to pay for their expertise.
That’s exactly how I feel, too. However, once I am over my initial annoyance, I still don’t see any point in answering, because, well, it’s not as simple as you think.
Here’s a great example: I am always asked where I get my curtains and blinds from. My first thought is “which part?” Do you mean the hardware? The sewing handiwork? The fabric? The lining? The seamstress who measured it? The lovely person who installed it perfectly? Or how about the all-important glue that coordinated all of these individual bits into a finished product in your home?
Surprise! — that last one is me.
I’m the one who selects and coordinates everything. It takes time, an eye for design, and coordination, but this is how you get a result that is so much more than the standard stuff you can find in shops. The quality is better. The outcome is totally custom.
Think about it… are you getting a magazine-published and award-winning designer who cares about your whole room (and your lifestyle) if you go to the shop or the man with the van? I think not.
Then, there’s the fact that not everything is created equally, even under one company or brand. I have suppliers that I adore, but not everything they make is Journey Home-worthy, nor right for your perfect forever home. So, a blanket answer simply won’t do any good.
If you already have your forever home and just want a lovely wingback chair to make it perfect, that’s one thing. But I think I speak for all designers when I say that trying to copy a professional’s creation yourself is going to be a lot more work with far fewer results.
If you’re looking for a shortcut…
That said, if you are just looking for places to go to do it yourself, we do offer a consulting-only service, where we provide URL links to the furnishings we recommend, so you can shop yourself. THIS is the approach that makes me feel comfortable and honest in the recommendations we are giving you. You’ll find this in our Decorating in Stages Service, Stage 3: Rugs & Furniture.
Design Myth 5: If I hire a designer, the style of my home won’t be personal to me
Why it’s false…
I know that you dream of making your forever home everything it could be. You are thinking about where you put everything, what things will look like, and “do I like white furniture or wood or both?”. It’s so exciting you can’t think of anything else when you are planning your home.
I get it, because I am exactly like you. For example, I’ve recently renewed our interest in caravanning, which got me looking at retro vans online and contemplating getting one. I caught myself thinking, “But I’d want to design it myself” — the exact same thing you are probably thinking about your home!
When I hear people say this about their homes, of course, I object. As an expert, I know I can make their vision reality more efficiently and effectively, but I still said it about retro van refurbishment… and what do I know about retro van refurbs?! Nothing!
I caught myself in mid-thought and I’m nipping it in the bud.
Yes, I can have a say in what I want my retro van to look like, its features, all my hopes and dreams for it. I’d like to be a curvy navy blue one, with a blue and white striped awning outside, with white joinery inside and blue upholstery… I could go on…..
My vision was inspired by this beautiful caravan for rent in Flinders, NSW
But who am I to ASSUME that these nice people who specialise in retro van refurbs wouldn’t totally get my idea and create a kickass navy girly van? I bet they would — it’s their expertise! (Look at their projects… so great.)
The work of the very talented Retro Caravan Renovations. They’ll do a great job, right?
Like me, I know it’s your dream to have everything just so, to show your good taste and practical nature, but it is still going to be much easier and more successful if you do get professional help for some or all of it.
The right designer is not going to take over. They will work with you upfront to design something you genuinely love. Then, they will create it for you faster, better, and more efficiently.
Ask yourself: Do you want the journey or the result?
This is less of a myth and more of a question to consider: Do you really want to take every step of the journey with your own two feet, or would you rather have a shortcut to success?
While you’re answering this question, remember that sometimes making the journey means that the result won’t ever happen. I’ve personally followed up with many potential clients who had decided to DIY their projects instead of hiring me (totally fine, of course). But months later, most of them hadn’t made any progress at all. Life had gotten in the way.
So, the next time you think “I want to design it myself” ask yourself if it’s the process or the result that you want most. Both can be done, it’s just important to be honest with yourself and your capabilities.
If you are determined to make the journey yourself and you’re committed to doing everything that must be done, my only tip is to get a professional’s advice (to set you on the right track) and then set a deadline. This is what our Design Strategy Session is for.
If you have any questions or need some advice, you know where to find me.