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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Nolan

Building a new house...when do I hire a Designer?

In order to avoid mistakes it best to bring on a Professional Interior Designer in the very beginning stages of your project.    This means when you are designing the home with an architect or before you sign a contract with your builder/general contractor.   Sometimes the building original selections (elevation façade, square footage, etc.) is determined at contract signing and it would be best to have a professional review BEFORE engaging in a contract to make sure that all is exactly what you want.   This is regarding the actual home construction (not the many building finishes / products) but the actual home you are purchasing.   Some builders provide allowances or build some features into the basic contract.   It is always a great idea to have a seasoned design professional guide/assist you during this process to make sure you are getting exactly what you want.


When building a new construction project it is very difficult to choose all of the products and finishes without having a clear vision of the style and direction of the entire home.   This is very challenging as there are so many decisions and sometimes the choices either don’t work well together or are not going to work with the future furnishings or items you have in mind.


Another reason is, when you bring an Interior Designer onboard if they are assisting you with making all of your home finish selections they will already have established a style and direction for your home.   They will be able to easily build upon that when choosing furnishings, lighting, artwork, etc. for your home.


If you are trying to do that all yourself; you need to go to various stores (furniture, lighting, rug showrooms, etc.) you need to work with a salesperson who has no knowledge about your home or project.  They don’t know what your floor is or the color palette of your home.   They can’t tell you that the cool grey sofa you want doesn’t work with warm tone wood floor.  This is how mistakes are made.


If you hire an Interior Designer or Interior Decorator AFTER the fact, the design professional is then just basically trying to do triage and try to make something work and look cohesive, rather than providing a fabulous design because they have to work with what you have done and most people are not going to rip out brand new tile or a brand countertop because the color is off or wrong.


So, the BEST thing you can do is hire an Interior Designer to assist you all through phases of your new home construction.   Accompanying you to your builder design sessions to choose all of the products, elements and finishes for your new home.   This includes flooring, wall tile, cabinetry, countertops, cabinet hardware, doors/hardware, plumbing fixtures, appliances as well as your exterior finishes:  paint colors, pavers / driveway finishes, window frames, doors, pool finishes including coping, interior finish, waterline tile and decking.   


An experienced interior designer will not only be able to choose finishes but will also be able to guide you on which are the best manufacturers and vendors.  They will know the latest features and explain the differences regarding the different manufacturers and will know price ranges, etc.


Also, if you are going to do any built-ins, ceiling elements, fireplace wall, etc. an interior designer will be able to easily sketch out and design during your design session to convey the elements you want to your builder or general contractor.  So you can choose the materials during your session while having a preliminary sketch in hand.   This design sketch can then be dimensioned out and finalized in Autocadd by the builder’s architect OR by your interior designer.


If you truly want a beautiful design that is breathtaking and the envy of your friends and family you should definitely use the Interior Designer for all shopping/selections for all of the pieces of your project including; furniture, window treatments, lighting, bedding, area rugs, artwork, lamps, accessories, florals and even tabletop elements.   This way the design is clearly thought out and all elements will work together.  


Lastly, there is the craftsmanship and workmanship component; interior designers and decorators have experienced craftsmen and installers that they work with on a daily basis.   They will have the best resources to ensure a high quality and problem free installation.   I mention this, as we continue to receive calls from people looking for assistance because they need to replace or redo brand new installations because of poor quality in the execution in the installation of wallpaper, window treatments, ceramic tile, etc.


In closing, basically engaging a design professional from the very beginning of your project will ensure no design mistakes in choosing the building selections for your home and if you are consistent and work with your designer through all phases of your project you can expect a cohesive, strong, beautiful, trouble-free design!


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