Interior Design: Getting it right

When is the best time to engage an interior designer? And what exactly does an interior designer do? Donna White, an Auckland-based interior designer and recent finalist in the Dulux Colour Awards answers these questions and more...

An interior design living room
COLUMN Donna White

The process of interior design is extremely involved and depends on highly detailed decision-making. Anyone who has renovated before will totally support this statement as they will know through experience that it takes an extraordinary amount of time to plan, execute and get a design just right.
During a renovation, a number of professionals are involved from architects and builders, through to sub-contractors and interior designers. Each profession deals with space, but considers space from a slightly different perspective. For example an architect designs the exterior shell and divides the interior into appropriate spaces. A builder constructs the space, and along with a team of sub-contractors, plasters, plumbs, wires and tiles the interior shell according to the plans provided. Interior designers have the ability to see space, not as it is, but as it could become. They understand how space is meant to flow from room to room, and ultimately, an interior designer can visualise how a room will look once furniture and accessories are in place.
For this reason the best time to engage an interior designer is right at the beginning of a renovation, at the space planning and development stage. This way, the architect, builder and interior designer can all bring their own unique area of expertise to the table and work together to create a strong, cohesive floor plan; everyone benefits from this collection of talent, especially the home owner.
While the ideal scenario is to engage all of the above mentioned professionals, in reality this does not always happen. For many Kiwis, their first thought tends to be to do it all themselves. New Zealanders are after all, a nation of people with a ‘can do’ attitude – we’ll give anything a go.
However before you dive in it’s worth asking yourself: do I have the training and talent to tackle serious design issues? Even if the answer is yes, you still need to consider whether or not you have enough spare time and patience.
Others meanwhile have a concept of what they would like to achieve in a redesigned space, but they don’t know where to begin. Consulting an interior designer at this point can make all the difference as to whether or not your renovation project is started, or indeed finished, and ultimately and importantly, how good it will look at the end.
Over the years I have found that while some couples can agree on almost everything regarding interior design, others have a hard time reaching agreement on almost anything at all. If you fall in the latter category the best way forward is to engage a professional, as decision making is a continual process throughout a renovation.
Those who find it difficult to make their minds up, or who flounder when presented with so many choices, will most certainly benefit from working with an interior designer. Issues that arise are focused on and dealt with according to priority, and the interior designer provides advice and guidance throughout the renovation, alerting clients of potential problems and additional costs if decisions are altered later on.
On the other hand, while decisive people keep a project flowing, some become so set on what they want that they refuse to budge on decisions which simply must be reconsidered. Again, in this scenario, engaging an interior designer can be extremely helpful.
But no matter when or why you engage an interior designer, a good professional will listen to what you want, respect your opinions, and bring an unbiased, open-minded outlook to your project. Furthermore he or she will alert you to any decisions you’ve made which may not be for the best – and will present a range of other interesting options. After all, once you’ve engaged a professional, you’d certainly want to make the most of their expertise.

You might be interested in reading: The importance of interior design.

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This article by Donna White featured in Issue 001 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.


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