By Kathryn Waltzer of Kathryn Waltzer Interior Design
No one ever told me I’d have to carry a metaphorical mop to clean up after homeowner design disasters. Or that I would involuntarily gasp at what they (over) paid for an item. Interior design is a full-time job. That’s why it’s a profession. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to explain that to the poor souls who thought they could do it while raising children, managing careers and running households. Our profession too often needs to reinforce that working with an interior designer is more cost effective than embarking on the venture seul. But at what point should we be brought in? And why bring us in at all?
“At the beginning.” says David Dalton. “Mistakes in construction are costly, and the designer is the only one on the project team with the complete vision of the finished project. Good planning is the only hedge against wasting money.” Dalton tells of a time when he was added late into a project by homeowners who tried to do as much as they could on their own or with minimal assistance from the architect. “They thought the appropriate time to hire the designer was when it was time to pick out the finishes. One of the first things I did was a complete floor plan. The architect had done only a superficial plan in order to get plan approval. We quickly realized that all the lighting was in the wrong spots relative to the furniture placement. There were plugs omitted where they needed to be and some switches that were not going to be accessible when the furniture and cabinetry was completed. The dry-wall was already up, so addressing these corrections caused additional costs and construction delays.
Linda Allen says, “I find that my clients who start projects before I’m hired get caught up in the minutia of selecting one item or material. They tend to dwell on details that put them in a holding pattern. Not understanding scale and proportion, they get frustrated with the many options of creating a balanced, yet ‘signature’ look. They navigate to the references that they know; shelter magazines that they feel help them define their ‘style’. Not knowledgeable about the process of construction and design, they wing Décor. They’re aggravated at the amount of time it takes to try and assemble an interior and often they regret their un-returnable purchases.”
I once counted 22 gold paint samples that differed in value only, on the wall of an exasperated, hands-on-home-owner’s house. She was working with a top-notch colorist (ka-ching) for days, but wasn’t satisfied with any results. I asked her which pieces of furniture were staying and she pointed to a recently delivered chair still wrapped in plastic. I examined the fabric and pointed at the appropriate color. She agreed with my choice but was dismayed that she had missed it. Madam then asked how I was able to do that.
Thanks for the post Kathryn! I’ve been there many times!