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What Interior Designers Bring to the Table


These important team members help create safe, comfortable spaces that are perfectly tailored to your needs

Homeowners sometimes ask what, exactly, interior designers bring to the table. It's a valid question. You've lived in homes all your life and know what you like, so choosing products, colors and layouts shouldn't be complicated, right?

The answer is that highly skilled designers—those who work with professional builders—have tricks up their sleeves to make your home attractive and easy to use in ways that fit your budget. It's the kind of insight one earns from completing hundreds of projects.

The work of an experienced custom designer differs from what you see in the common tract home, where every room is configured for a hypothetical average homeowner, and little thought is given to things like intelligent storage, tailored lighting and high-end finishes.

To begin, a custom designer will ask detailed questions about your tastes and lifestyle. What did you like and dislike about past homes? Which colors made you feel good and which ones didn't? How much TV do you watch and where? What is your day-to-day family life like? Your answers will help the designer decide what suggestions to make.

This process will include every room in the house, but let's focus on the kitchen. The designer will ask what features in past kitchens you appreciated or found frustrating. Perhaps you loved your island bar but always wished for more space in front of the microwave. Or maybe you cursed the spice containers that cluttered the countertop. Write down as many things as you can think of before the first meeting.

The designer will also discuss how you prep and cook food, and for whom. A working couple that mostly eats out will have different needs than a family with kids who invite friends over for dinner a lot. A dedicated baker who loves to roll dough may want a different work surface than someone for whom a complex meal is bacon and eggs.

When it comes to surfaces, appliances, fixtures and cabinets, the designer will know which ones stand the test of time, and which manufacturers honor their warranties.

Here, as in other rooms, the designer will also help you choose an aesthetic. As someone who follows the latest trends, styles and colors, your designer can suggest choices that bring all the elements together.

The key word in all of this is you. The designer won't tell you what you need, but rather will suggest options and help you navigate choices. The guiding light is your specific needs and tastes.

At the same time, the designer will make sure that the finished spaces follow best practices, including layouts that are safe and comfortable to use. The designer will also draw the floor plans and technical details that the workers need to do a proper installation.

Good design is about making sure all the parts of your new home work in harmony and support your lifestyle. You only achieve those results by making lots of good choices, and most people will profit from the advice of someone who knows which choices tend to support your vision of your custom home. In fact, we find that the people who are happiest with their homes are those who work closely with interior design pros.