People often ask me, “Should I hire a designer for my project and if so, why?”

Most people are intimidated by the thought of hiring a designer and are really hoping to find reasons not to hire one.  However, depending on the scale of the project, it is often advantageous to seek professional help.

The first step in hiring a designer is to understand the different types of designers and how they work.  There are basically two types of designers:

  • The first type offers design consultation services only.  She will charge an hourly fee for her time and expertise but does not have a full studio and does not have access or accounts with major home furnishing companies  This type of designer is perfect for space planning, selecting paint colors, working with your existing furnishings or specifying materials for a renovation project.


  • The second type offers consultation services plus has access to a wide range of goods and materials.  This designer is a “Dealer” and works in a full service firm with a design studio that showcases home furnishings, fabrics, lighting, accessories, etc.  The advantage to hire a “full service” designer is the convenience of having everything under one roof–a “one stop shop”, if you will.  Most full service design firms work on an hourly rate and cost plus basis; this means the designer will charge for her time at an established hourly rate and all home furnishings purchased through her studio will be invoiced at her Dealer’s cost (wholesale) plus a percentage.  This is very advantageous to the homeowner and keeps the guesswork out of pricing.

SCL Studio

Here are some reasons why to hire a designer for your project:

  • Designers are talented and creative.  A good designer can offer interesting and refreshing perspectives to your project.  A design project is like a big jigsaw puzzle and each piece is key to creating a fabulous final image.  A good designer can “see” the final project in her mind and guide you to it.



Before — SCL Design Project



After — SCL Design Project


  • Mistakes are expensive.  A good designer guides you in your taste–she does not dictate.  She will help you define your needs, style and vision for the project.  There is nothing worse than getting halfway through a project that you are doing on your own to realize you are not happy with the progression.  It is too late to turn back and your next phase is now in question.  Many clients have called me midway through a project and say they wish they had called sooner.  Our goal is to keep you from making costly mistakes.
  • “Plan the work.  Work the plan”.  This is my creed.  A designer will prepare a solid workable plan for your project that will include a scope of work, timeline, budget, inventory control and a team of subcontractors.  She will help you work the plan, stay on budget and avoid scope creep.
  • Your time is valuable.  An experienced designer with a good studio can save you time and energy searching stores and websites for the perfect piece of furniture or fabulous accessory.  screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-1-27-03-pmIn addition, most designers have access to a wide variety of manufacturers, many that you might not have heard of.  A good designer knows her lines and passes on that knowledge to you.   





  • Resources!  Designers have a host of resources at their disposal.  A seasoned designer will have established relationships with a wide variety of experts in the trade.  She can recommend subcontractors and workrooms to you that are tried and true.  This adds tremendous value to your project.
  • Your designer is your advocate.  A professional designer is often hired as part of a larger team.  This team can include architects, contractors, home builders and collection of subcontractors.  An accomplished designer is always a good team player, but at the end of the day, she works for you.  She will be your advocate and your voice.  She will facilitate decisions, mind the timeline and honor the budget–all without sacrificing your vision.  She will keep your goals in mind and share those in a thoughtful way with the team.

So, the next time you ask, “Should I hire a designer for my project?”, consider the type of designer that best suits your needs and the advantages she will bring to the project.  Just think…it might the beginning of a very creative and meaningful partnership!