Designing a custom home can be overwhelming, to say the least. From hardware finishes to wall paint, landscaping, windows, flooring, and more, there is an infinite number of options to choose from. And while that is, of course, the whole idea behind a custom home, it doesn’t make it any less challenging to wade through the details and narrow down your selections – especially if you’re new to the process.
So, what’s the solution? Do you simply go with the builder recommendations and settle for a carbon copy of the neighbor’s layout? Or do you fully embrace the stress and decision process in order to get what you really want?
Well, it turns out that there’s a middle ground and it entails hiring an interior designer.
Now, if you’ve never considered a designer or aren’t really sure what it is they do or if they’re worth the money, fear not. Today, we’re breaking down exactly what to expect when working with one, and we guarantee it’ll make that decision just a little bit easier for you to manage. Because when it comes to a custom route, we want you to get it right with the least amount of stress possible.
What does an interior designer do?
At a basic level, interior designers guide you from start to finish in the custom home building process, helping you achieve your ideal style, all while staying within your budget and keeping your goals at the forefront of the design. They’re different from the builder in that they are not working exclusively with the structure itself, but also taking into account how you want to use each space – all the way down to your choices in furniture and decor. Whether you have a spacious home office at the top of your “must-have” list, or you need to prioritize your growing family and your love of entertaining guests, an interior designer keeps your specific needs in mind and can make recommendations that will dramatically improve the layout and experience of your custom home.
How much does it cost?
The cost of an interior designer ranges dramatically, depending on the designer you use and the level of service they provide. Most designers will offer a range in their service levels, starting with project consulting and moving all the way up to full-service design work. Project consulting is usually reserved for small design challenges such as choosing paint colors or a furniture layout in a space. Full-service design work is the start-to-finish process that likely comes to mind when you think of interior design; a designer will run point on your entire project from the construction phase through to selecting your furnishings.
The fee structure can be hourly or charged as a flat fee, but regardless of the method, you can expect to pay a “designer fee” for their expertise on top of the cost of any furnishings or decor. This can range anywhere from $1,000-2,000 all the way into the $10,000 + range. The reason behind the wide variety of charges, of course, is experience. The more veteran a designer is, the higher their hourly rate or flat fee will be. However, while you may be paying more, you’re also receiving top-notch service and they’ve spent their entire careers perfecting the design process, so it’s truly a hands-off and stress-free experience.
What are the benefits?
Having an interior designer working alongside you every step of the way typically makes the custom home building process much smoother in the long run. Not only do they take the lead from a project management standpoint, but they also help to eliminate the overwhelm when it comes to selecting the right elements for your home. In a full-scale design situation, they work with you first to understand your lifestyle needs and the home styles you tend to gravitate towards. Then, they help you to stick to that goal as you progress through the entire custom building process. Rather than getting distracted by another shiny new finish, they keep you rooted in what you actually want, and take the vast majority of work off your plate. Plus, hiring an interior designer ensures that you won’t pay double for mistakes down the road like buying furniture that isn’t to scale or choosing flooring that doesn’t meet the needs of your busy family.
What are the drawbacks?
Aside from the high cost of hiring an interior designer, designers aren’t necessarily the right choice for everyone. If you’re the type of person who really enjoys a more hands-on approach and actually wants to be a major player in the custom building process, then having a designer on your team could be a detriment. It might feel like too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. Additionally, you have to be very intentional about which designer you choose. Every designer has their own style, and it ranges drastically from ultra modern and minimalist to traditional and vintage-inspired. If you select a designer only for their cost structure, for instance, you may end up with someone whose design style is in complete opposition to your own (and you could hate the final product as a result).
What should I look for when hiring a designer?
This brings us to our next point: hiring an interior designer is a process. You absolutely want to avoid simply choosing a designer based on a single factor alone. Take the time to really vet your options before signing a contract. Price, naturally, is a top consideration. After all, you need to stay within your budget to build a successful custom home. But in addition to this, you’ll want to dig into each designer’s portfolio. Do their designs make you swoon? Or do you find yourself muttering “not my style” under your breath while viewing each photo? While designers do work for a wide range of clients with all different styles, they tend to have a “type” that they prefer to design for, and a quick look through their website and portfolio will tell you all you need to know.
Beyond a designer’s style, you may want to have a call or consultation with several to determine if they are a good fit for you personality-wise. It may seem unnecessary, but remember that the custom home process is lengthy and there can be a lot of emotions wrapped up in each decision. You want to work with someone who not only has your best interests in mind, but also with someone you feel comfortable working with (even if things get a bit tricky or complicated).
Finally, don’t forget to take into account a designer’s experience in the industry. Newbies who have just started their careers can absolutely create stunning work, but sometimes they are a bit too green to take on a massive custom home project. It may be better to go with a designer who has a thick portfolio of work and a seemingly endless list of positive reviews from past clients. You’ll need to assess your comfort level with this.
A custom home is an amazing route to take in the DFW area – especially when you can choose exactly the finishes that you know will make you and your family happy for years to come. But before you take on the entire load alone, make sure you at least consider hiring an interior designer. It may make the process seamless and enjoyable rather than stressful and time-consuming. And as long as you follow this list of considerations when making that decision, you’re sure to end up with a designer who fits your style to perfection.