Why interior design is an important part of remodeling

By Allison Havill Todd
We often get panicky calls from prospective clients who have started a remodeling project only to find they are stuck on making decisions about all of the possible finishes and materials available. They are stressed because they are afraid of making a mistake (or have already made one), their contractor needs decisions in order to move forward, and the budget is spiraling out of control.
This is a situation that can easily be avoided with a little pre-planning. In this article, we will address the following:
– How to address the interior design needs of a remodeling project.
– When to hire an interior design professional.
– What you can do to be prepared.
– How to stay on budget.

Why do I need to think about interior design when starting a remodeling project?
Doesn’t the contractor/remodeler you have hired know what to do? Considering most remodeling projects will start at a minimum of $10,000 for some minor updates to well into hundreds of thousands of dollars for more extensive projects, it’s important to make sound choices and get it right. Trying to make decisions along the way without an overall plan and vision for the finished result can leave you feeling overwhelmed and most likely disappointed with the process as well as the end result.
Having a vision for the finished project is essential. There are hundreds of choices to make along the way, and you should not rely on your contractor to choose your color palette, select your finishes and inherently know how the different elements will work together. The contractor’s role is to ensure that the functional aspects of the project meet code and the construction is structurally sound. They are there to provide input and execute on your plan, but it is not their job to be the interior designer. It’s the same as asking your painter what color you should paint your home. Their role is to provide the service of painting your home not specifying the appropriate color palette.
Interior design concepts and remodeling go together. One doesn’t exist (well) without the other. Just as the best design ideas in the world need flawless execution in order to shine, so do the best remodeling plans require excellent design expertise. You might have the best layout you could have imagined for your new kitchen remodel, but without the proper selection of cabinetry styles and finishes, counter tops, backsplashes, hardware, flooring, lighting, etc., you can end up with a mediocre result that does not flow well together or with the rest of your home.

When should I hire an interior design professional for my remodeling project?
Unless you are working with a general contracting firm that offers design and build services, you should hire an interior designer at the very early stages of your project. It’s best to have already met with your contractor and have an initial conversation about your needs and agree upon a rough budget. There is no point in enlisting the services of an interior designer only to find out the contractor’s quote is much more than you had in mind. On the other hand, don’t wait until your contractor needs decisions from you on finish and material selection before contacting a designer. Most experienced, reputable designers are scheduling their time several weeks to months in advance. Plan ahead so you can have the right team in place for your project.
If you don’t already have a general contractor in mind, a reputable interior design firm should be able to recommend one or two that they have worked with in the past. You will, of course, want to choose the contractor that best fits your needs, budget and personality. You will be working closely with this person through the course of your project, and it’s important that you have a good feel about them before moving forward.
Once you have decided on the contractor, it is time to formally engage the services of your designer and arrange a meeting to discuss your needs.
Again, don’t wait until the last minute hoping that someone can rush over the next day to meet with you… plan ahead to keep your project on schedule.
Once you have decided on your contractor and have established a rough budget with them that you are comfortable with, you should engage the services of your interior designer quickly. If you are in need of an interior designer and are unsure of who to hire, I suggest you check out our free video on how to find and work with an interior designer: ahtinteriors.com/how-to-work-with-designer/.
What can I do to be prepared?
Chances are you don’t embark upon a new remodeling project on a regular basis, if at all. It can be a bit overwhelming. Your interior designer and contractor are there to help you and guide you through the process, but there are some things you can do early on that will ensure your project stays on track:
– Do your homework. You should have some ideas to share, and pictures really are worth a thousand words. Telling your designer and contractor that you want a “more modern” kitchen (or bathroom, or basement , etc.) doesn’t mean anything. One person’s idea of “modern” is another person’s idea of traditional. It’s best to have some images to share. You can browse through home magazines for inspiration or social media outlets such as Houzz.com or Pinterest to start your search and save images of things you like.
Don’t get too caught up in finding a room that looks exactly like what you have in mind. Rather, focus more on finding general styles or color schemes that are appealing to you. Your designer can help with the details. The idea is to create something that is uniquely you.
– Keep the communication open. Yes, you should certainly have some input to share, but you should also remain open to new ideas and suggestions. After all, your designer and your contractor do this for a living. They work in this field every day. They are exposed to recent trends and may have ideas you would not have thought of on your own.
– Be prepared to make decisions and move on. Nothing can be more frustrating for you and your team than constantly changing your mind or second guessing your choices. Make a decision with expert guidance from your team and move forward.
If you have done a good job of providing input about your preferences early on, an experienced designer is not going to let you make a mistake. They will only offer choices that work, based on your preferences, and ensure that everything flows together harmoniously.

How do I stay on budget?
It always surprises me how often I hear about projects running out of control and way over budget. This is such a simple thing to avoid if handled correctly at the initial stages of your project.
First, your contractor should have provided you with a written quote based upon your conversations and your preferences. Of course, there are variables in costs of different products and materials, but a range can be provided in advance. Your contractor should be able to provide you with proposed allowance for each part of your project.
Then, if you choose to select an item that is over the presented budget, that will be your choice and you should be aware of it in advance. Make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in the budget.
Second, plan on sharing this information with your interior designer. He/she will need to know what price range to stay in for specifying such things as lighting, hardware, counter surfaces, flooring, etc.
If your budget is clearly discussed and agreed upon in advance, there should not be any reason for unexpected surprises during the course of your project.
As you can see, with a little pre-planning and the right team of experts, your remodeling project can be a pleasant experience and deliver the outcome of your dreams.
For more information, contact AHT Interiors at www.ahtinteriors.com, 770-887-7612, 6495 Shiloh Rodd, Suite 100, Alpharetta.

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