One of the many ways an interior designer can save you money is by ensuring that the design for your home or office is completed and that all details are hammered out and all materials are selected before you start to make purchases, do construction, etc. It is always cheaper to make changes and iron out details on paper before you start actually making changes, purchases, etc. – often by quite a lot.
Particularly when undertaking a complex project such as a kitchen or bathroom remodel, there can be literally hundreds of decisions that must be made, many of which depend on decisions made before that, and most people who have never been through it before really have no idea how involved this can get. Even a single chair may potentially have as many as five or six or even more fabrics, trims, and/or finishes involved; the complexity increases exponentially when you move beyond that into a full scale redesign or remodel of an entire space.
It ought to go without saying, then, that it’s best to wait until the design is complete before you undertake activities like demolition, installation, or purchasing anything, for the same reason – not to mention keeping your designer sane and happy.
One of the most difficult situations to work with is when clients get in such a hurry that they think they are speeding things up by hiring a contractor and starting demolition before they’ve hammered out all of the details of what’s going to replace what’s already there, or if they run out and select the paint colors and paint the whole interior on their own before we finish deciding on the furniture and fabrics and other finishes. In reality, the exact opposite is true, and this sort of thing is just going about the whole remodeling and design thing rather bass ackwards.
What ends up happening is that the design usually has to be completely reworked in order to accommodate these hasty actions, which invariably will cost you at least double what it would have cost to just put the brakes on and go about things in an orderly fashion in the first place, not to mention taking a whole lot more time.
Yes, I can probably find some way to cobble something together that will work with the pea green, orange, and turquoise paint scheme you’ve just put up, at least sort of, but it will take many more hours of time in showrooms, sifting through fabrics, in order to find it than it would have to start with the basic scheme and all soft goods, and then to select complementary paint colors, or have it custom blended to match exactly. Paint is easy, but it’s dramatically more time consuming to match fabrics or rugs to paint than vice versa, and it limits options tremendously. When any kind of construction is involved, the potential problems just multiply way beyond this.
And all of that extra time involved to work around what’s already been done out of order will cost you money.
Since most designers now charge on an hourly basis, this isn’t the end of the world for us, since we’ll just keep on billing you to redo the job until it’s finished. It’s annoying for everyone, though, because it compromises our ability to do a really stellar job for you at a reasonable price, and may well cause your job to go over budget, which everyone hates. And we hate, hate, hate having the design screwed up this way, with clients often ending up with something less than they would have had otherwise, all while paying more for it. Jumping the gun like this is usually a lose/lose proposition all the way around, for all of these reasons. We don’t like having to bill you to redo a design – or losing the chance to do the best possible job for you – and I have yet to hear of a client who actually likes having to pay for it.
If you want to make changes midstream, or to start construction on one part while something else is still in progress, or to incorporate elements you did not initially include such as those new antique rugs you picked up in India, that’s certainly your prerogative as the client, but do at least run your thoughts and any product selections by your designer before you do take any action to find out what impact on the overall project such changes will have.
If your project also happens to be a charity project or something else that the designer has for some reason elected to do for you pro bono, however, and you put the cart before the horse, you have now also just thoroughly ticked off your designer as well as cost her a lot of money, which is not exactly going to get her to want to go out of her way to keep on working on your project, or to do others for you at another time.
I have no problem reworking a design if what I come up with initially isn’t quite right and we need to tweak it or even start all over again in order to ensure it’s exactly what is right for that job and that client. That’s part and parcel of the whole process. But when I’ve worked my tail off to create something wonderful for a client – especially when it’s a freebie – only to find that they’ve just now changed the whole ballgame by putting the cart before the horse, then that does not make me a very happy camper at all. And I know that you aren’t likely to be as happy with the end result as you would have been otherwise. Stuff happens, and unexpected obstacles crop up that force design changes often enough as is.
So, yes, I know you’re champing at the bit to just do something you can see once you decide to undertake a design project, but do yourself a favor, and rein yourself in until you’ve got the whole design finalized, at least on paper. Your pocketbook will thank you, your money will go further, and you’ll be much happier with the end result.