As any homeowner will know, tackling an interior design project, whether a new bathroom or a whole house redo plus extension, can be tough and stressful. All those decisions, finding the right contractors, understanding the differences between a range of materials and finishes, as well as knowing where to source the products you need can all easily overwhelm. If only you could afford to pay someone to grapple with it all for you, or find someone who’d simply give you some shopping tips or advice on picking colours… Well, perhaps you can.
These days, there are numerous options for different types of interior design help, as well as solutions for every budget, ranging from specialist interior design companies and individuals to services available from design experts at some shops, as well as a new breed of personal and professional online solutions...
Call in a professional…
Don’t assume hiring a professional interior designer will cost an arm and a leg. Many are open to smaller projects and budgets, so if there’s someone whose style you love, it’s worth starting a conversation.
“It definitely doesn’t need to be a whole house,” says Susie Rumbold, president of the British Institute of Interior Design. “Most designers will happily provide advice for a small fee, so you can use them to just check the things you feel unsure about.”
Rates will vary according to where you live and what level of service you’re looking for, but as a rough guide, expect to pay from around £35 an hour; designers may also set a flat fee per room.
Look out for ‘mini-packages’, which can be a great way to dip your toe in. For example, Slightly Quirky (see image) offers a two-hour consultation service for £250 for those who just want some pointers.
….they can save you money
Whether you’re revamping a house or one snug living room, remember, a professional designer can help you to avoid expensive mistakes. “Interior designers usually end up saving their clients money through their product knowledge and clever sourcing,” says Rumbold.
Don’t forget, you’re paying for expertise and knowledge. A professional designer is trained to understand how colour, mood, lighting and texture transform a home’s atmosphere. “Interior designers offer a host of things clients may struggle to do themselves. We can layer on technical stuff, such as lighting, power and heating, and specify all finishes and furnishings to an agreed budget,” says Rumbold.
Sites such as the award-winning My Bespoke Room are a smart new way to access affordable, professional interior design support without leaving your laptop. Charging from £95 per room, experienced designers Diana and Laura will help you to visualise and create your own personal ‘virtual moodboard’. They will email you a shopping list to meet our brief and budget.
See in 3D
Colour is often key when it comes to interior design. And paint behemoth Dulux now offer an Amazing Space service to help with all elements of a design project. If you’re struggling with how to transform your new living room or bedroom, they can provide an online design consultation service for £75.
First you answer questions to help ascertain your brief; then you get a 30 minute online consultation with a Dulux design specialist. Finally, you get an interactive shopping list, plus a floor plan and 3D room visualisation, so you can imagine how your room will look.
If keeping it simple and getting everything in one place appeals, then this option could be for you. John Lewis is just one department store that offers interior design consultations. Its Home Design Service has two tiers: you can either book a free, in-store appointment for help and inspiration for minor changes or a room refresh, or choose a more thorough home consultation for £200, redeemable against made-to-order purchases.
Other stores that offer similar services include Laura Ashley. Its design service kicks off with a home consultation, where an interior designer will listen to your ideas and bring along swatches, catalogues and sample books. The service covers the UK, Ireland and Europe and costs £100 for two rooms and £200 for larger projects.
Do you broadly know your likes and dislikes, but are seeking a guiding hand when it comes to implementing them? DecorBuddy represents another of the smart new generation of interior designers that understand we don’t all want, need or have the budget for huge amounts of advice. Instead, its philosophy is ‘bite-sized’ –it offers starter sessions for an affordable £195, with optional follow-ups charged by the hour.
The approach here is DIY – meaning the client stays at the centre of the process (rather than the designer taking control).
Think of it as you, doing your house up, but with someone else alongside you helping the decision-making process, so it doesn’t seem so scary. As they say, “You stay in control of the look, timings and budget, with just the help you need.’”
DecorBuddy’s advice can include: choosing what to change and what to keep; advice on architectural plans and room layout; finding colours, fabrics and products to create your look; sourcing curtains, blinds, upholstery and other décor products; taking the project to completion.
Blair Cadell are solicitors and estate agents offering no nonsense personal advice to all property clients
BC blog editor