“I wish I could afford to hire an interior designer”

said every person, ever.


In my humble {and unbiased} opinion, if you are building or renovating, you can’t afford NOT to hire an interior designer.

Interior design, and decorating for that matter, is one of those professions that people consider a luxury, a service reserved for the exceedingly wealthy. But there truly is something for every budget. Sure there are designers who only work with the rich & famous, and they charge hundreds of dollars an hour for their services. Not to mention they specify or sell them the most high end products. But there are also designers and decorators that offer a more reasonable and affordable option that is attainable by the average homeowner or renter.

I happen to be one of those designers.

Ok, but how can a designer actually SAVE you money? Good question. It is one I am asked repeatedly. So I decided to put some examples together for easy reference.

When you are building or renovating a house, or business, there are THOUSANDS of decisions to make. It can be very overwhelming and stressful, especially if you have never done it before. If you make the wrong decision it can cost thousands to fix or replace. Or you might end up living with something you hate. Not exactly the outcome you were picturing when you decided to create your dream space.

One of the biggest myths about interior designers is that we only pick colours and fabrics, that we just make a space look good. Which is true, but that is actually part of interior decorating.  An interior designer considers space, functionality, safety, scale, sustainability, accessibility, longevity, decoration and the list goes on.

So, without further adieu, here are 8 ways a designer can save you money…


1. Space Planning. In the words of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright “You can use an eraser on the drawing board, or a sledge hammer on the construction site”. Your choice. If you have ever built or renovated before you probably learned this lesson the hard way. You buy your house plan, your contractor starts building and you realize that your bedroom is too small, or your washer and dryer won’t fit in the closet that was drawn, or there isn’t enough room in the front hall for the door to swing all the way open. I have seen these types of problems on EVERY SINGLE design project I have worked on. Every one. Some of them may be minor and if you are vigilant, on site every day and have a good eye for space, you will probably catch them yourself before the electrician runs his wires, plumbing is installed, and walls are boarded up. But if you don’t, that can mean big bucks that you didn’t include in your budget. If you had hired a professional interior designer to look at your floor plans before you started, they would have caught those issues and you’d still have money in the budget for blinds.

 Renovation Pan



2. Millwork Drawings. Kitchen, bathroom & laundry room cabinets, fireplace surrounds and any built in cabinetry or millwork details should be quoted on by up to three companies before you decide on one. And if you don’t have the drawings to show them what you want, there is no possible way you will get 3 comparable quotes. How can they quote on the same thing when YOU don’t even know what that is yet? Cabinet makers (and all your trades) are professionals, and I lean on them a lot when it comes time to finalize the design, but if you aren’t clear on what you want before you start talking to cabinet makers, they will make those decisions for you, and they could end up costing you thousands in extras. So hiring that designer for a few hundred bucks doesn’t seem so silly now does it? The other, very important reason to have a designer prepare your cabinetry and millwork drawings is to make sure that the space actually functions properly. Have you ever had to take all the glasses out of the dishwasher and close the door before you could reach the cupboard to put them away?

Home Renovation Project - Bamboo Kitchen

3. Lighting layouts. I’ll refer you back to #2 on this one. You should be getting three quotes on all your subtrades before you make a decision. You can’t make an informed decision if all 3 of them are bidding on something different. Electricians aren’t (usually) paid to know where your bathroom vanity is going. Or where your kitchen island is going to be installed so that the pendants can be properly lined up. They don’t have time to worry about your design decisions. When it comes time to wire your house, you should already know which fixtures you are buying, how far the bathroom sconces are from the end wall, where the dining table is going to go, where you want dimmers and 3-way switches and duplex plugs. Ask anyone who has built a house and didn’t use a designer to prepare lighting layouts how many extras the electrician charged by the time the job was done because of changes or delayed decisions.

Lighting layout

4. Plumbing Fixture Selection. I once worked with a home owner who requested my services too late in the project because he thought I could just help him pick some tile for the bathroom. The house was already framed, rough in plumbing complete, and fixtures ordered by the homeowner. After looking at the space and discussing what he wanted the overall look and feel of the room to be, I asked him to email me the fixtures he had ordered so I could see what I had to work with. I discovered that his sink and tub faucets did not match, they were from different manufacturers with different versions of what brushed chrome looked like. But that’s not the worst part. He had ordered a wall mount faucet for the sink, but hadn’t relayed that to the plumber who had plumbed it for a standard vanity mounted faucet. He had also ordered a tub that didn’t have a tiling flange so that the wall tile would sit over top of the flange for the shower water to run into the tub instead of the walls. Those minor mistakes cost him thousands of dollars.

travertine marble master bathroom ensuite design

travertine marble master bathroom ensuite design

5. Appliance Selection. This is one of those services that I tell people who are on a really tight budget they can probably do on their own, but that they should be very careful to pay attention to details. Do you know anyone who has a French door fridge that can’t open the doors enough to take the shelves out to clean? It happens often. It is not a problem with the fridge, it is a design mistake. Or maybe you have a beautiful backsplash tile detail going in and it looks great, until you put the range in and the controls at the back of the range cover your lovely design. I can’t tell you how many condo buildings I’ve designed where the architect didn’t leave enough room for the stacking washer and dryer. At the very least hire your designer to look over your selections before you order them.

Lotto Cook Top

6. Finishes Selection. Wood, laminate, carpet, tile, cork… so many choices. Which is the best product for each area. Does this hardwood go with my sofa? Where does the shower tile start and stop? How are the edges finished? What type of transition do I use from wood to carpet? When it comes to picking and detailing finishes, there are a lot of questions. By the time you get to this stage of construction you are probably getting a little stressed out and sick of answering a million questions from your contractor (well, unless you’ve had a designer in which case you’d be cool, calm and relaxed). Paying a designer for a couple of hours to help you pick finishes will save you hours of stress, hair pulling and bickering, not to mention that your space will look well put together.


7. Furniture, Window Coverings and Decor. The finishing touches are an important part to any space. They can be a big expense at the end of an over-budget construction project. But if you work with a designer you can save a lot of money on these items. Every designer works differently but for the most part you can buy these products through your designer. When I sell products, I don’t charge for my design services, and I let my customers take advantage of my discounts. So they end up getting my professional advice for free, plus they pay between 10-40% below retail. If you’ve priced out furniture and blinds lately you know that can amount to a huge savings.

Living Room View 6

8. We’ve Got Your Back. Designers act as your advocate. They can also help you get better deals on products and services by reviewing your quotes, or dealing with product reps to get you “package deals”.  But they are also great at quality control. If the backsplash tile doesn’t look straight, your designer will make sure the installer fixes it before they finish the job. People hate to complain, especially if they have built a friendship with their sub-trades, but a designer is un-biased and works for you. Sometimes we have to be the bad guy – that’s probably why we get a bad rap!

Cozy Living Room Fire Place

 Most designers offer a free consultation so it’s worth having a conversation with a professional to find out how they can help you. And have fun with it!


Visit my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/relishinteriors and website http://www.relishinteriors.com/



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