top of page
  • Katherine Walker

When to Bring an Interior Designer Onboard: A Guide for Homeowners

When to Bring an Interior Designer Onboard: A Guide for Homeowners Slate Studios

Embarking on a home renovation or new construction project is an exciting endeavor, filled with endless possibilities for transforming your space. Amidst the hundreds (or even thousands) of decisions to be made, we often hear this question: when is the right time to hire an interior designer? I’m here to help you understand the importance of early collaboration with an interior designer and provide insights into when to bring them onboard for your project.


Early Collaboration Yields Better Results

It's a common misconception that interior designers are only needed once the architectural plans are finalized and construction is about to begin. However, involving an interior designer from the outset of your project can lead to more cohesive and well-thought-out design solutions. Designers bring a unique perspective to the table, helping to shape the layout, flow, and functionality of your space right from the conceptual stage.

When to Bring an Interior Designer Onboard: A Guide for Homeowners Slate Studios

Recently, we collaborated with a client who had already started a project with their contractor before bringing us on board. The contractor had developed a good plan, but there was room for a designers eye to elevate the design and reflect the needs of the client. While we were able to assist the team and refine the project's plan, it required some backtracking to address the finer details. If we had been involved earlier in the project, much of this backtracking could have been avoided.

On another project of ours, we began working with a client who had engaged with an architect for several months. Upon getting involved we meticulously reviewed all of the iterations of the plans, analyzing each revision to identify areas that needed improvement. Upon our onboarding with the client, armed with fresh insights and perspectives, we delved deep into the intricacies of the design. From exterior elevations to furniture layouts, closet sizes to plumbing fixtures, no detail was too small to escape our scrutiny. This allowed us to revise the space planning and then collaborate with the architect to get plans to 99%, much to the delight of the client.

Nevertheless, we're dedicated to supporting our clients in any way possible! Both of our clients are now proceeding with confidence, knowing they have our expertise to guide them through the rest of the project.


Setting the Tone for Your Project

Interior designers play a crucial role in setting the aesthetic tone for your project. By engaging a designer early on, you can establish a cohesive design direction that informs decisions about architectural finishes, materials, and color palettes.

Many times, contractors will make allowances for items during the bid process before design decisions are made. This often results in discovering that when actual design selections are made, change orders to cover higher installation costs or more elaborate tile cuts and patterns will result. Hiring a designer early on means design decisions are made at the time of bidding.

There are also many avoidable issues often arise in interior design projects when a professional isn't initially consulted. Interior designers think through these details where some contractors may not. It's not to say the contractor is at fault but they are generally more concerned with the big picture where designers get into the nitty gritty details.

When to Bring an Interior Designer Onboard: A Guide for Homeowners Slate Studios

Some issues we’ve seen include:

  • Improper placement of light fixtures or electrical outlets in relation to furniture layouts

  • Inconsistent countertop heights, disrupting visual flow and functionality

  • Poorly designed or inaccessible storage solutions (hello drawer that bumps into door trim)

  • Misplaced patterned tile, disrupting the aesthetic harmony of the space

  • Use of non-durable materials, resulting in premature wear and tear

  • Surfaces lacking proper sealing for everyday use, leading to maintenance issues and potential damage over time

  • Plumbing fixtures installed at awkward heights

The list goes on, but one this is certain, it takes having the right team to ensure every detail is executed to perfection.


Avoiding Costly Mistakes with your Interior Designer

One of the most significant benefits of hiring an interior designer early in the process is the ability to avoid costly mistakes down the line. Designers possess a keen eye for detail and can identify potential issues or overlooked opportunities in the early stages of planning. By addressing these concerns upfront, you can prevent costly rework and ensure that your project stays on track both aesthetically and financially.

We had a project recently where the light switches had not be relocated as we requested in the construction documents. During our pre-sheetrock walkthrough, we were able to catch this oversight so the switches could be moved much more easily than they would have after the sheetrock was installed. This is just one example of the many moving parts of a project.

When to Bring an Interior Designer Onboard: A Guide for Homeowners Slate Studios

We serve as your vigilant advocates, ensuring that our designs are not only implemented correctly but also that contractors avoid any shortcuts that could lead to future issues or visual inconsistencies for our clients. With our oversight, we aim to deliver not just a visually stunning outcome but also a lasting and functional space that exceeds expectations.


Streamlining the Design Process

Bringing an interior designer onboard early can also streamline the design process, saving you time and minimizing stress along the way. Designers are skilled project managers who can coordinate with

When to Bring an Interior Designer Onboard: A Guide for Homeowners Slate Studios

architects, contractors, and other trades to ensure that the design vision is executed seamlessly. From space planning to selecting finishes and furnishings, designers oversee every aspect of the design process, keeping your project on schedule and within budget.

Have you ever found yourself scrambling to find the perfect outfit moments before a big event? Picture this: you've procrastinated, and now it's too late to order online. You rush from store to store, hoping to stumble upon something that'll suffice. Eventually, you walk away with a decent outfit, but deep down, you know it wasn't your first choice. Now, imagine that same feeling of compromise and disappointment translating to your design project. You're forced to settle for readily available materials because you didn't plan ahead. That exquisite tile you envisioned? It's out of reach due to its lead time. Instead, you opt for something that merely does the job, leaving you with a space that falls short of your aspirations.

Just as with fashion, the key to achieving excellence in design lies in foresight and preparation. By involving a designer early on, you ensure that every element aligns with your vision and expectations. Don't settle for less than extraordinary – plan ahead, and let your project flourish with intention and creativity.

Explore our comprehensive design process HERE for a deeper understanding of how we meticulously manage our projects, striving to ensure a seamless experience for our clients from start to finish.


Enhancing the Overall Experience

Beyond the practical benefits, early collaboration with an interior designer can enhance the overall experience of your project. Designers are passionate about creating spaces that reflect your unique personality and lifestyle, and involving them early allows for a more personalized and tailored approach to design. By working closely with a designer from the outset, you'll enjoy a more collaborative and enjoyable design journey from start to finish.


Final Insight

When to Bring an Interior Designer Onboard: A Guide for Homeowners Slate Studios

In conclusion, hiring an interior designer early in your project can make all the difference in achieving a successful outcome. From setting the tone for your project to avoiding costly mistakes and enhancing the overall experience, designers bring invaluable expertise and insight to every stage of the design process. So don't wait until construction is underway – enlist the expertise of an interior designer from the very beginning and watch your design dreams come to life.

If you're looking to get some help with designing your home to be more of an authentic haven - I'm your girl.

Let's hop on a Discovery Call to chat. 30 minutes can be life-changing.

- xo Katie


bottom of page