Some New Ways to work with an Interior Designer



The interior design profession has been changing and morphing in the last decade. As a result, there are many more options of how you can work with an interior designer. Working with a designer can range from full service interior design for an entire home to a form of design coaching for a DIY home project.

Each interior design business and each designer will have their own ways of working with their clients. Each will provide you with a description of the services that they provide and each will talk with you about how they like to work. Listed below are some options that you should know about, especially if you are not looking for whole house interior design services, or if you have a limited budget and need to be selective about which services you purchase.

In-home Design Consultation

An in-home design consultation is usually a onetime meeting in which a designer comes to your home and you work through the design issues that you seek professional assistance with. This could be about how to arrange the furniture in a particular room, which colors to paint a room or to discuss which art and accessories would nicely complete the space. There is generally no follow up or follow through after the meeting. A meeting like this is usually billed on an hourly basis plus travel time, although sometimes a flat fee is charged for this kind of service.


Full Service or Whole House Interior Design Services

Full service design services would be the optimum choice when you are building a new home or moving into a ‘new’ home which will need new furnishings and the selection of new finishes. This service is focused on the full range of design decisions which are required when a new house is being designed by a home designer or architect—these include ‘space planning decisions’ or how the individual rooms or spaces are best laid out for your comfort, safety, and aesthetic pleasure; selecting interior finish materials and specifying them; the selecting and purchasing of furniture, fabrics, art and accessories; design and fabrication of custom furniture and fixtures; design of interior architectural detailing; architectural lighting plans and lighting fixture selection; selecting exterior building materials and finishes; etc.

This is the most comprehensive approach and will result in the best overall result because your designer will be involved in all phases of the project and will be coordinating decisions with all the other building professionals on the job such as the building designer/architect, contractor and project specific craftsmen. Your design professional will be your representative and he or she will work to directly influence the finished product to suit your desires and lifestyle while promoting your design project interests through the entire design and construction phase.

Pulling a Home Together

‘Pulling a house together’ is a service often needed when you have moved into a new house or perhaps when entering a second marriage in which there are furnishings from two separate and diverse households. This can often be a daunting task for the home owner/ new couple to sort out especially when they realize that the furnishings from their last house[s] do not work in the new house. When it comes to new couples uniting who have existing furnishings it becomes an exercise of choosing the very best pieces from the entire inventory of furniture and deciding where to put what where. Inevitably in this situation, there will be essential pieces of furniture which will be lacking which will need to be filled in. These will need to be sourced out and acquired. A professional designer can help you with this and he or she can save you a lot of time and prevent you from making many costly mistakes.


One Day Makeover

The One Day Makeover is when you hire an interior designer, either at an hourly rate or day rate, to help you arrange furniture, hang art and place accessories. You may also want to consult with the designer at the same time on design questions that you have which you plan to follow up on in the future.

One client I had recently was moving back to the United States after twenty years abroad. They had been living in a condo twenty stories in the air in Southeast Asia and were moving to a country house on twenty acres in Bellingham. They were tentative about arranging the furniture in the house and wanted some assistance. When I got to their house they were really confused as to where the sofa should be—looking out at the tall Evergreen trees or facing the wood fireplace? I helped them with this decision which freed them up to move forward, allowing them to enjoy our rearranging the rest of the furniture. One of the homeowner’s made notes along the way as to what additional pieces that they would need. Then we moved on to hanging art and placing accessories. I came back the next day for a few hours to finish up what we had not gotten to the previous day. This time was billed hourly at my professional rate.

Personalizing & Accessorizing Your Home

Personalizing your home is when you already have the major furniture that you need [either from a previous home or perhaps purchased from a furniture store] which has been placed in groupings but the house lacks the flair or the personality of the home owner. This usually involves picking up on a particular interest/passion that the client has such as textiles, hand knotted rugs or a collection of baskets or folk art masks and playing that up in the designed space.

Lykke Music Room
Design Coaching for DIY Home Projects

Design coaching is when a designer agrees to answer the client’s questions about a home project that the homeowner is undertaking themselves. This would usually involve an initial visit to become familiar with the home/space and to become familiar with the homeowner’s goals. After which the designer and client would settle upon a business arrangement so that when design questions came up the designer would be on a retainer to respond to the owner’s questions or offer opinions on design decisions.

This could be done on an hourly basis or there could be a flat fee for this service. I should state, however, that this is an arrangement that some designers would not be interested in participating in, whereas another designer might be interested in this arrangement especially if there is a clear understanding of the number of hours and compensation involved.

Home Staging to Put A House on the Market

Home staging is a term that has become familiar to most of us. When it involves an interior designer like me [who does not keep an inventory of furniture for furnishing an empty house] it involves meeting the client at the home that will be for sale which they are still living in or have left furniture in. My job is basically to work with the home owners to make the house look as good as it can for showings and for open houses.

This generally means editing and clarifying rooms—these rooms want to be free of clutter and furnishings which will obscure the architectural features of the house or somehow put a perspective buyer off. This often will involve rearranging furniture to work with the architecture of the space. Sometimes suggestions are made about painting walls or about making some minor repairs to improve the viewing. Also, I like to work with the home owner on how to stage counter tops or surfaces which cab add a nice visual and sensory appeal to walking into the various rooms.

This service can be billed at a fixed rate—half day or whole day, or by the hour.
Talk with your designer to see how they like to work when staging a house.


If you have additional requirements or a particular situation that would require something other than these options be sure to talk to your designer and inquire whether they would be interested in accommodating your particular needs or situation.


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