Today I was asked in person and online if hiring an interior designer is a good idea. The answer is it depends.
I'm telling you, if you just wrapped up a remodel or already spent your hard-earned money on style advice turn back now.
OK, you can't say I didn't warn you...
The above pictures, do you like them? If you think they're great then, really, stop reading. But if you find them lackluster, or even soul-crushing (as I do) then we have something to discuss.
As I see it, there are three groups of people (in the non-trade world):
- Those who have no strong feelings about design whatsoever. They want to buy their furniture in sets and have it done with. Paint color? Whatever the builder recommends. They don't really need an interior designer. In fact, one would be wasted on them.
- Those who love HGTV and gush over the design tips in their Real Simple magazine. They can tell good design from bad design, but they have no idea how to implement this into their own home. They should really consider getting an interior designer.
- Those who are well-versed in design. They speak of color undertones, gush over Farrow & Ball, follow design blogs religiously, and scour E-bay & Etsy for the best deals on Hamedan rugs. They know so much they might try to do it all themselves, or they know enough to realize they could benefit from expert consultation. It can go either way.
If you're a #2, can you become #3? Absolutely! It will take some time, of course. I recommend the following "homework."
These are the go-to books for design-enthusiasts. I should have also thrown in some Nate Berkus because, hey, we all love him. Something I really appreciate about the Domino book is that from the start it recommends that you define your own style, really pay attention to the sorts of things that tickle your fancy. I advise getting a Pinterest account, if you don't already have one, and take a pin first, think later approach. With time you'll start to see your tastes emerge. You might be shocked to find a love for, say, dalmatian print wallpaper. Who knows?! Go ahead and surprise yourself. I sure did with my own board. The other two books are meant to get your creative juices flowing with DIY projects and ideas.
Start your day with a post from your favorite design blog. Really, give this a try. This is hard to make recommendations about because people vary so much when it comes to taste, but here's a sampling that might help get you started.
- Funky, punky feminine? ISuwannee
- Natural and subdued? Pure Style Home
- Not afraid of color? Like a DIY? Little Green Notebook
- You like San Francisco? SF Girl by Bay
- How about New York? Brooklyn Limestone
- Can't get enough Southern charm? Urban Grace (archives)
- Wanna get eclectic? Try Making it Lovely and Emily Henderson
- Love that modern organic look? House*Tweaking
- How 'bout contemporary? Rambling Rennovators
Finally, I do believe that anyone who gives a darn about what their surroundings look like should follow Apartment Therapy --I mean, just look at today's post: The Four Commandments of Decorating More Confidently-- and purchase Maria Killam's E-books. The latter should be required reading for anyone who is making costly decisions about their home like tile and counter-top selections. I really do mean that. I can personally attest that after learning a bit about color theory and clashing undertones, I was able to save us from making a mistake that would have cost us thousands of dollars.
At this point, someone might say, oh forget it, I'll just ask for an in-home consultation from my favorite furniture store. With that there are many parallels to the fashion world. If you were to hire a chain-store wardrobe stylist, what s/he'd give you is actually not style. It would be the current fashion trends. That is what other people think looks cool right now. Style, on the other hand, is a combination of confident, personal choices that result in visual art. Likewise, if you want your home to look exactly like the current Pottery Barn catalog, then go right ahead, but realize that it will shortly become outdated and fail to inspire. In contrast, those who actively choose their decor, and layer on piece after piece, create something that tells a story about themselves. The result tends to be beautiful and timeless.
See for yourself, and contrast the following images to the ones with which I started this post. Cleanse your palates, and be true to yourself. --Even if that means enlisting help from the pros. After all, there's no shame in asking for help... unlike the disdain you'd get from me and my favorite color consultant if you were to install pink beige tile in your home. :)