Take it From Me … Hire the Professional

Filed in Design and Decor by on April 25, 2014

6877894152_806a325a49_zWhen I was in design school I had an instructor who talked about interior designers hiring other interior designs to help them do their homes, and I was appalled at the thought. What type of designer would do that? That is like a contractor hiring someone to build his home, or an electrician hiring others to do the wiring.

But there is a difference, as I found out on my own home. To build or plumb or to wire is different than designing. The design element is the concept and selection of product.

I am not belittling the excellent artists and trades people who are on the job. My builder was totally amazing. He brought 40 years of knowledge to the project and was very creative in solving problems and making suggestions.

On the other side of the story, I have had plumbers, painters and carpenters tell me about homeowners asking their opinion on various components of the design element, and they felt uncomfortable being placed in that position. They have spent years perfecting their skills – but designing a project isn’t one of them.

I have helped many clients with new construction and remodeled homes; I have even designed homes from the foundation to the roof for clients. In all of those circumstances I have had clear vision. I interview the client to determine budget, style, wants and needs and then sift through products and create a plan that fits their financial, functional and lifestyle needs.

I develop for the client different plan options, and only a few products per category. There is an emotional detachment that allows clear vision to see the perfect selection or design for the homeowners.

Then after 30 years in the industry I designed and built my own home. It turned out to be agonizing and more stressful than I could have imagined. So why was it debilitating to do my own home? I mean, how hard could it be? I do it all the time for clients!

Well,  first there is the cobbler’s children syndrome. I am busy with my clients, and my house took the back seat. The other issue is that no one was filtering or sifting for me. I would micro-analyze design elements such as the stem height on a faucet. Literally, I looked at bathroom faucets for three weeks, comparing every little detail and agonizing about whether I was make the right decision. My vision was not so clear when the emotion of the purchase was at stake.

I now appreciate how a homeowner is paralyzed by choices. Everything is overwhelming, and there are hundreds of decisions. And as we get older the decisions seem to get harder. I am not sure why – maybe we are apprehensive because we know the repercussions of our decisions, or maybe because are more worldly and aware of all the options and the fads that we have seen come and go. Do you remember avocado green and harvest gold from the 60s or mauve and teal from the 80s?

But maybe it has nothing to do with age, just that we get overwhelmed with too many decisions. A world of products is available at our computers. I know because I have been living in my house for three months and have yet to select my shower wall tile.

So why am I telling you all of this? Take it from me, hire a professional! From the architect to the interior designer to the landscape designer, please realize you need it. Yes, you can do this on your own, and some might even enjoy it. But not only does the design professional remove stress and filter for you, he or she also takes the project to the next level.

Also, realize you don’t have to hire the professional full-time. You can hire someone for parts of the project, for as little or as much as you are comfortable.

After going through the process, I now realize how valuable and indispensable a design professional is to a project. A professional brings calm and focus and ideas that sometimes we can’t see because we are too close to a project.

Take the counters in kitchen. I have three different materials, and I knew what I wanted to do with two of them but for the life of me couldn’t come up with the “best” solution for the third. I consulted with another designer, and his clear vision gave me the answer. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it! Isn’t there a saying about the forest and the trees?

by Betty Ravnik, ASID, CMKBD


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