Working with Designers on Small Interior Design Projects

You want to make over just one room, or you want to redesign using your own furnishings. Here's how to enlist the help of a designer.

Posted by Linda Merrill | Jun 17, 2011
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egoforall/stock.xchngSomewhere between the rarified homes seen in the high-end shelter magazines and the guerilla-style makeover shows on cable television live most design clients. Yes, that’s right. The majority of professional interior designers out there, especially these days, work on projects of all sizes and many of them are fairly small. If you’re considering a redecorating project and are interested in getting design help, here are some tips that might help:

When decorating with what you have

If you like what you have but feel the need for a freshening up, or if you’re moving into a new home and want help figuring out where to place what you already own, this is the service for you. Not all designers offer this service, but there are firms that do nothing but this type of work and will bring a fresh, creative eye to the project. If you’re hiring someone to do only one room, you should understand that the designer may move furniture and accessories in from other rooms in the home as they see fit. They’ve been hired to make that one room look great and will do what they need to to accomplish their mission. Personally, I think you will achieve the best result if you a hire a "stager" to do your entire home while you go out for the day and leave them to work their magic. They will likely leave you with a list of suggestions for additional purchases or work they think needs doing and you’re free to take it or leave it.

Single room projects

Many first time design clients wish to “kick the tires” with the designer and design process and hire someone to do only one room in their home. Again, not all firms or designers will take the single room job, but most will. The upside is that you get to try things out in a limited way. The downside, however, is that a single room isn’t an island unto itself and should be designed with the rest of the home in mind. A good designer will think this way and as a client, you should not feel this holistic approach is merely a way to win more work. That all said, I have long term clients with whom I’ve been working for several years.  We’ve been slowly working our way through their home, room by room. It’s a great partnership for both of us.

Virtual design services

In the age of technology, it is now possible to work with a designer who never even comes to your home. Through email and online technologies, designers are able to offer their expertise at very reasonable rates. If you have the ability to take good photographs and accurately measure your space, you can contract with a designer who will either do an entire design, including fabric samples and paint chips, or who will simply answer specific questions such as which sofa fits the space better or what window treatments will work best.

It’s important to remember that there are many designers who offer a myriad of design services. If a designer doesn’t take smaller projects or charges more than you wish to pay, simply keep looking until you find the right designer for you. They are out there and looking for work.

Linda Merrill is a Hometalk - - writer.  Read more articles like this one - - or get help with your home projects on

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