Remodeling Project – Nightmare vs. Dream Part One – Interior Design 101

We’ve all heard the stories… some of us have even lived them. You know the ones – the remodel project that went on weeks and months beyond its expected due date. Or your friend’s nightmare contractor stories where the kitchen tiles were all wrong and it was all their fault? How many of you are afraid to even consider a remodel project based on all the horror stories you’ve heard?

What if I told you that a remodel doesn’t have to be so daunting and stressful? Would you believe me if I said it can even be fun?! Allow me to explain…

An interior designer can be your best friend and ally during a remodel. And while many think that hiring an interior designer is too expensive – only adding to the costs of a project – by working with designer in a strategic way you can save not only time and money, but countless headaches that often arise during remodel projects.

From the outset, an interior designer will help you determine your style. And if there’s more than one palette to please (i.e. you’re a modernist and your partner is a traditionalist), your designer will help combine and complement these styles. I’ll be writing more about the importance of knowing your style in Part Three of this series – but suffice it to say, being unclear about your style before starting a project is akin to not knowing which highways to take before starting a road trip… it can lead to confusion, wasted time and major headaches.

Your interior designer will also walk you through the process and help you envision the bigger picture. By developing a detailed plan that you clearly understand, you will be empowered to think everything through and make key decisions based on the final project. Your designer will know what questions to ask and help anticipate potential revisions – helping ensure every detail is fully planned out, thought about and decided on BEFORE construction even starts.  Even more importantly, your designer will help ensure you make these decisions before you even get a bid – so that the bid you receive reflects the items you want instead of an “allowance” which is typically for lower cost items. Developing this roadmap with your designer beforehand will help immensely by leading to: fewer interruptions; less rushed and often costly decisions; minimized change orders during the middle of construction. What does this mean for you? BIG savings of your valuable time and budget.

You can also rely on your interior designer to facilitate contractor communications. We’ve been doing this a lot longer than you and we speak their language. And your designer can also make sure that your expectations are met throughout the project – even if you’re away on business or holiday. It is commonplace for people to return home only to find that the contractor has missed something major. Just imagine the cost and time needed to replace the wrong bathtub or sinks … And by relying on your interior designer to manage communications – you will prevent the almost inevitable occurrence of sub-contractors’ need to stop work or come back another day due to questions or unclear directions.

So – imagine your interior designer as the conductor of your remodel symphony. Lean on them to help you establish your tone, determine the score, communicate with and lead your team and ensure that your project progresses in a clear, harmonious manner.

Funk Chart

While every project is stressful (as shown in this “Funk Chart”) hiring the right interior designer and contractor – who make the challenging times fun – can make all the difference at the end of a project.


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Up next: Remodeling Project: Nightmare vs. Dream Part Two – Working with Contractors, Architects and Designers and Part Three: Interior Designers & Your Style

And for those of you interested in some action items based on today’s post – here’s some homework:

  • Visit Houzz or Pinterest and begin saving some images to your idea book or page. Don’t forget to list the things you like/dislike about the photos so you can talk with your designer about them. Knowing what you don’t like is just as important as what you do like – so be specific but brief.
  • Head to your local kitchen or bathroom showroom and begin getting ideas on styles and some general pricing.