Interior Design: Do It Yourself or Hire A Professional Decorator?

Are You Planning on Redecorating Your Home? Should You Do It Yourself or Hire A Pro?

Once you've settled on an aesthetic look for your home, the big question is should you begin decorating yourself or hire a professional? Or both?

Interior design is a relatively new profession. In fact, interior decorators and designers as we know them today barely existed before the 20th century. Before that, you decorated your home yourself unless you were a captain of industry or royalty.

Old habits die hard. Some people still think that interior design is a luxury for the wealthy, or that you need to live in a palace. For others, it's not so much about the money; it's more about giving up control and getting a result that doesn't reflect their taste or style. Some homeowners jump right in without hesitating, while others have confidence in their knowledge, taste, and skills and prefer to decorate their home themselves. 

Which side do you fall on? Here are a few considerations to think about to help guide your decision.

The Advantages of “Doing it Yourself”

Obviously, doing the job yourself means that you're not paying someone else to do it. The final result will perfectly reflect your taste and style, and you can take full credit for your creativity. If you've done it before, and were happy with the results, there's no reason not to do it again.

Whether or not the DIY option will work for you depends upon your strengths. If you strongly know what you like, and have a clear aesthetic, then you'll choose pieces, colors, and textures that you love. You can also undertake the project in stages, as your budget allows, and you won't face the challenge of conveying your likes, dislikes, and design aesthetic to a stranger.

The Disadvantages

You could mess things up. Moreover, if you do your choice is to live with your mistake, possibly for years, or you pay a big chunk of money to make it go away. Do you have the ability to visualize your space? Are you creative? If not, then you need help. Interior design is expensive so you don't want to make mistakes that can cost you big money to fix. 

Doing the job yourself won't necessarily save you money either. Decorating is a time-consuming endeavor with a steep learning curve. Even if you have a natural flair, decorating your home consists of a considerable number of decisions. What's your time worth? Will the outlay of time involved justify the money you'd save on fees? A single mistake and you can forfeit any savings you might have enjoyed.

In the US, many home furnishings are only sold to the trade at wholesale designer showrooms. What you see in retail stores is only a fraction of the merchandise that's out there and available. While some showrooms permit public access or offer membership to non-trade people, often you'll still need to buy through a recognized designer.

The Advantages of Hiring an Interior Design Professional

Working with an interior designer comes with several advantages. First, you'll have access to a wide selection of “to-the-trade-only” furnishing, fabrics and wall coverings you'd probably never see. You'll also benefit from their network of tradespeople and workrooms your designer has cultivated and built relationships with throughout the years. You can potentially end up with a beautiful home that perfectly matches your style, meets your lifestyle needs and is furnished with exquisite pieces chosen by an expert for their quality, durability, and beauty. 

If you have the budget, going custom is a great way to go because it's unique and custom designed for you. Having a pro that can affirm your decisions and supplement your style is a positive. The truth is, designers can save you money, time, and the hassle of repaying for something.

The Disadvantages

Working with an interior designer can be costly. It's also a very personal process. You will need to share many personal details about your life with your designer to achieve your ultimate vision. You could end up working together for months, or even for years. A designer can become a confidant. Alternatively, if you don't pick the right one, your relationship could turn adversarial.

`Just because a designer has a high profile, lots of press, and an excellent reputation, doesn't mean that they are the right fit for you or your home. It's imperative that you like and have a good relationship with your designer, and that you can communicate with them honestly and openly. Be clear about your budget right up front, with no apologies or excuses. When researching companies, don't hire a designer that is used to working with $250,000 budgets and expect them to shop for you at Home Goods. Conversely, don't expect a bargain-priced beginning designer to deliver results like Mario Buatta!

Some Other Interior Design Options To Consider 

There can be a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with designing your home's interior yourself, and you might not feel the need to pay someone to do the work for you. However, a good designer will work closely with you, involving you in the process. They will recognize your creative vision, and make you feel like you played a significant role in the final result.

If you like the idea of working with a professional decorator or interior design firm but are concerned about the cost, or the loss of creative participation, there are alternative arrangements you could consider.

1. Hire a decorator on an hourly basis to help you plan your layout and select furniture, fabrics, and colors. Not all designers will work this way, but some welcome the opportunity to begin a relationship.

2. Design your project, but hire a pro by the hour to hold your hand through the selection process, or offer their opinion on items you are considering.

3. Work virtually. Today, a growing number of designers are setting up shop online. You send them photos, a video or a floor plan of your home, and they will provide virtual consultations for a fee, without ever meeting you (or seeing your home) in person.

4. If there's a furniture store you like, it may offer free interior decorating services. Some stores will work on your project with you, with no fee, although you will need to purchase your furniture from that store. If you like that particular store's products, it might be a great way to go.

Your home is your palette — a place to showcase your style, taste, and creativity. Decorating on your own is always a viable option, but if you are uncomfortable making big decisions, are unsure creatively, or want a design professional to check your work, working with an interior designer can be an excellent way to gain knowledge and the home you've been dreaming about!