This is the first of a multi-part series we’re calling the “Designer Series.” We will be covering some of the basics surrounding home design and construction projects you may come across during your time of home ownership. Included is everything from painting and additions, to hiring a designer, the design process, and hiring a general contractor over the next few months. We hope you stay tuned in to pick up a tip or two!
When you’re thinking about renovating, redecorating, or remodeling one or more spaces in your home, it can be very tempting to try tackling it yourself. DIY projects can be fun and very fulfilling if you have the time, skills and know-how, or at least a friend who’s able and willing to lend a hand. Sometimes, however, it can make more sense to hire an interior designer to help you craft a plan. Interior Designers not only have access to resources you wouldn’t ordinarily be able to find/use, but they can also help coordinate the contractors, electricians, and whoever else needs to be involved in more complex projects. They also know all of the nitty gritty details you might overlook that could make or break the project…or the bank. If you have a home project and are confident that DIY is the best option for you, we’ve noted some things to keep in mind below. We’ve also included benefits of using an interior designer for each. Because there are so many spaces in the home to address, we’ve decided to make this a two part post.
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A painting project can be an easy, inexpensive, and effective way of changing the ambiance of a room—a perfect DIY for the color-confident weekend warrior. Most rooms can be prepped and painted in a matter of hours (minus waiting four to eight hours for the second coat). If you’ve got nicks or gouges in a wall, like from a doorknob, you’ll want to plan ahead and break out the mud or Spackle to fill in the uneven areas, sanding and smoothing once dry. Most people we’ve spoken with prefer the actual painting part of the process much more than they do the preparation part before the color goes on. In the end, you’ll be glad you took the time to make sure your borders are taped properly on nick-free walls. If you aren’t sure which color to paint your space, a designer can be hired just for that purpose! Don’t depend on the guys in the paint department or local paint store to help you decide. They’ve never been in your space and will likely offer you one of the myriad shades of “off white.” A designer will come to your space and help you select a color based on what else you have in the room—the lighting, the flooring, and the adjacent areas that might abut the space. We also have great recommendations for local paint pros to help you get the job done right!
Lighting has a big impact on the vibe of any space. Whether you’re looking for a new light in your foyer or several pretty pendants over your kitchen island, there are tons of options at the big box stores and online. When redefining your space by installing new light fixtures, you’ll want to keep size, scale, and light output in mind. Is it ambient, task, or decorative lighting? What about metal color? What other metal colors are going on in the space? You’ll need to consider what kind of lamp will go into the fixture. The “lamp” is actually the part of the fixture emitting light, aka “the bulb,” and any fixture you select will specify what type of lamp to use with its wattage requirements. Incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, and LED are the most common residential indoor lighting types. The color temperature, aka “Kelvin,” is also very important. Do you want the light emitted to feel cool or warm? Lampshades are great mood-setters and come in a variety of forms—parchment, fabric and crystal, to name a few. We always recommend hiring a licensed master electrician to install fixtures that need to be hardwired in. They’ll know what to turn off in your breaker box, which wires to connect, and affix the light to your wall or ceiling. If you find yourself in a lighting conundrum or need help sourcing an electrician near you, we are glad to help!
Whether it’s a desk and a swivel chair or a large sectional with comfy pillows for lounging, furniture helps to define the function of a space. Acquiring and installing it can be an easy DIY project if you know your style and how to put it all together, but make sure you know the possibilities and limitations of your space before buying one stick of furniture. Nothing could be worse than finding out during the move that the King size bed you ordered doesn’t fit into the 8′-0″ wide bedroom of your 3-story walk up. A little planning goes a long way here! Retail establishments of all types exist for you to pick and choose from, sometimes even with a little design help! There are tons of online ordering options available to retail customers, especially if you need something quick (in under four weeks) that isn’t customized. Designers have exclusive access to trade-only resources and can create a plan for your space without you having to lift a finger. Busy professionals often don’t have the time to play designer with their packed work, family, and social schedules, so they hire a designer who can present the best options and create a pulled together space for them. Additionally, designers can help specify, order, and coordinate installation so that you don’t have to! If you’re looking for a piece that already has some character and are willing to dig a little, antiques stores are treasure troves.
Your bedroom can be your respite from the outside world. Construction aside, creating and implementing a plan to alter your space with furnishings and finishes can be an easy DIY project. For more complex design or construction, such as changing out flooring and lighting or installing wallcovering, you may want to consult your designer.
To ensure that your work doesn’t take up permanent residence on the kitchen table, a workspace appropriate to your needs is a must! In smallish homes, homeowners can transform a closet space or nook. If you can afford an entire room or basement for a home office with built-in cabinets for storage, you have a little more leeway. Either scenario allows for a design that can help boost productivity! Comfort and function are high on the list for people who often work from home. When designing your home office, you’ll want to consider seating, horizontal surfaces, electrical outlet locations, lighting, and storage at a minimum. A designer can help you figure out the best way to use the space that you have, large or small.
We hope we’ve given you a little bit of insight into how a designer works with other professionals and can help ease the stress of redesigning your home. Join us next week for part two of this intro series.
Written and Edited by Emilie Kyle and Cassandra Reinhart