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What to Expect When Working with an Interior Designer

Working with a design/build remodeler means working with an experienced team of experts. This team usually includes an architect, an interior designer, a builder and a project manager. Together, this team conducts site visits, drafts plans, submits permit applications, hires specialty trade partners and handles product procurement. One of the benefits of working with a design/build firm on any remodeling project is how tight-knit the team is. When you work with a design/build firm instead of a general contractor, your interior designer works very closely with the architect and builder. By working together at every stage of the project, they ensure the overall scheme meets your family’s needs and matches your lifestyle. With an interior designer’s help, your design/build remodeler also ensures that each space is cohesive and meshes well with the rest of the home. In this post, we outline what to expect when working with an interior designer. Whether you are planning a minor cosmetic update to your kitchen or a whole home remodel, follow below to learn more!

What’s the Difference Between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator?

Most design/build remodeling firms will have an interior designer on staff. Their team might also include an interior decorator, but the expertise of an interior designer is often more valuable. While many people use the terms interchangeably, there are actually a few key differences between interior decorators and interior designers.

What is an Interior Designer?

Interior designers often have formal training and – depending on your state – might even be licensed. They work alongside engineers, architects and builders to design a home’s interior architecture. Interior designers typically have some architectural and engineering knowledge as well as a thorough understanding of local building codes.

Interior Design materials

What is an Interior Decorator?

Decorators – on the other hand – are less concerned with the structure and function of a home. They are more concerned with its aesthetics. In their article “Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator: What’s The Difference?” for Forbes, Samantha Allen and Debbie Wolfe explain. Put simply, interior decorators “do not work with architects to create new interior spaces; they embellish interior spaces that already exist.”

Interior decorators are involved in some spatial planning. However, they rarely move walls or relocate plumbing fixtures. Instead, they use furniture, paint, rugs, wallpaper and other decorative elements to cosmetically update a space.

Why Should You Work With an Interior Designer?

Because interior designers have so much structural knowledge, they are usually a better fit for remodeling companies. They can interface with clients – consulting with the homeowner to determine the best layout for that person’s unique lifestyle.

When conducting a whole home remodel, an interior designer typically makes more sense than a decorator. Any type of renovation that involves demolition and construction could also use an interior designer.

Homeowners with specific needs might benefit more from the expertise of an interior designer than an interior decorator. For example, our interior designers at Vanderbeken Remodel have a lot of experience remodeling homes for those individuals hoping to age in place.

Here's What to Expect When Working With an Interior Designer

#1 The Interior Designer Will Ask Lots of Questions to Identify the Goals of Your Remodel

Every interior design project begins with discovery. The interior designer might have you -- the client -- fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle, needs, interests and family. They might also conduct a site visit to identify any issues with the current layout. By asking these questions and exploring the existing space, an interior designer will help define your goals for the project.

For example, you might want to expand your kitchen and improve the flow to your dining room for easy entertaining. Alternatively, you might want to move your primary suite to the main floor, so you can age in place more comfortably.

After defining your goals for the project, an interior designer will enter into the concept/design phase. Your designer might ask you to share specific materials, inspiration photos, Instagram accounts or Pinterest pages with them. They will then develop mood boards to pin down aesthetics and draft conceptual drawings to make sure the design is headed in the right direction.

#2 The Interior Designer Will Work Seamlessly With the Rest of Your Remodeling Team

Interior Designers working cohesively with others on the design-build teamWhen working with a general contractor (GC), architect and interior designer as separate entities, there are many more opportunities for disagreement and miscommunication. In some cases, architects, designers and GC's butt heads so often that they are unable to come to a consensus. This could result in delays, added costs, or even lawsuits.

When you hire a design/build remodeling firm the design and production departments work together in a cohesive fashion. You and the interior designer both benefit from immediate access to a team of architects and other remodeling professionals who are used to working together. Familiarity and close proximity means better communication and a much better chance to make sure every last detail is right. The benefits of an interior designer who works flawlessly with the rest of the team are practically endless.

In her article “10 Times to Hire a Design/build Firm” for Houzz, Laura Gaskill elaborates. Gaskill admits that "a conflict-free building experience is never a sure thing." Yet, working with a design/build firm ensures these conflicts are resolved swiftly because "the key players already know one another." Because your interior designer works well with other members of the team, "ironing out later-stage changes tends to be quicker and smoother."

#3 The Interior Designer Will Ensure Flawless Product Procurement

Another benefit of working with an interior designer is that they have many industry connections -- some of which come with trade discounts. If your interior designer belongs to a design/build firm, he or she might also have access to a project manager and product procurement team.

Together, your interior designer, project manager, and procurement team ensure all products are ordered on time and within budget. They handle any and all change orders, working with vendors and other partners to ensure your project stays on track.

Chances are, your design/build firm's procurement team has worked on similar projects in the past. As such, they know how and when to order everything from flooring to light fixtures. With an in-house procurement team, you can rest assured that products will be ordered to appropriate specifications and delivered to your site without incident.

#4 The Interior Designer Will Provide Guidance for Installation

Lastly, your interior designer will guide other members of your design/build firm during the installation phase of your remodeling project. They will choose how to lay the tile in your bathroom or kitchen, where to position fixtures and how furniture should be placed.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Remodeling Your Snohomish County Home FREE download


When to Hire an Interior Designer as Part of Your Remodeling Team

  • You desire a team of professionals with a history of successful collaboration working on your remodel 
  • Your project involves alterations to your space -- i.e. structural and/or cosmetic
  • You want to have cohesion and flow between the various spaces in your home
  • You have specific wants, needs or goals -- i.e. energy efficiency, aging in place or universal design
  • You are interested in a designer's specific style or approach
  • You don’t know where to begin and need some guidance

Ready to work with incredible interior designers during your Snohomish County remodeling project? Schedule a call with VanderBeken Remodel at a time that works best for you and our Client Care Coordinator will give you a call to begin the process.