March 2018

Dreams by Design

Author: Gregory Vaughan

Planning to build a new house here in the Lowcountry? Thinking of remodeling? Need to add a little more square footage to your current abode? Want to freshen-up the outdated decor in a room or two? Desperate to tackle that tired tile in your master bath? No matter the scale or scope of your endeavor, chances are your project will go more smoothly with the help of a professional interior designer.

Working with an interior designer is probably every homeowner’s fantasy. Who wouldn’t want a little professional help pulling together their dream decor?

Surprisingly, many folks have the wrong impression that hiring a specialist is a lavish indulgence only the rich and famous can afford. Visions of an over-the-top, out-of-control character who comes into your home and depletes your checking account while imposing upon you an unwanted sense of style are simply not accurate. A professional designer can be an invaluable part of the decorating process and ensure the success of your effort.

Six Reasons to Hire an Interior Designer:
1. Design scheme
Whether you watch HGTV (and I know you do), thumb through shelter magazines, or have visited a home improvement center lately, you are already aware of the endless options of interior fixtures and embellishment. Having the expert guidance of a professional to help you navigate this vast sea of possibilities is crucial in establishing the direction for your decor. Unlike design shows on television, design schemes are not pulled together in five minutes nor are entire projects completed in an hour. A designer will spend time asking you questions about your lifestyle, personal tastes, and special considerations to better understand your needs and desires and to determine the best resolution. This is a working relationship built over time.

2. Problem solving
Designers are educated and trained to resolve awkward spaces in rooms that pose challenges. They can solve problems of poor traffic flow and less-than-ideal furniture arrangements. They can create excitement in boring, featureless rooms and address adding privacy to a problematic window. The designer brings to the table an understanding of color, scale, light, nuance, and flair that will enhance your spaces in ways you may not have previously considered. Having a fresh eye from a different perspective is never a bad thing.

3. Project management
Interior designers have experience coordinating the myriad contractors, subcontractors and artisans involved during the process. This ensures the project progresses in a logical manner instead of total chaos. Designers will know to schedule the painters in advance of the carpet installers and to make sure all contractors are finished on time before the upholstery and other furniture pieces are installed. This is an invaluable service for absentee owners who are working on vacation homes and need work completed in time for scheduled renters as well as permanent residents who want to minimize remodeling headaches. No one wants their new ivory colored sofa delivered the same day touch-up stain is being applied to the front door.

4. Time saving
Designers offer full-service, one-stop shopping for clients. Their vast resource libraries offer a variety of fabric swatches, furniture catalogs, window covering samples, wallpaper books, paint chips, and contacts full of talented and reliable tradespeople at their fingertips. It is one thing to research items online when decorating, but it pales in comparison to having actual physical samples on hand along with some professional advice and feedback when compiling a design scheme. Also, many designers have access to custom-made items that are not found in stores.

5. Money savings
An interior designer will keep you from making expensive mistakes. It may be as simple as avoiding the purchase of a non-returnable custom sofa that is too large for the intended space. Perhaps it is more complex where that extra set of eyes can scrutinize plans and catch design glitches before it is too late. From awkward door swings to misplaced electrical outlets, the interior designer can alert clients to potential problems before time wasting and expensive change orders need to be made. An experienced designer will know which items you may want to splurge upon and offer economical solutions for others. I like to call it value engineering.

6. Flexible fees
Interior designers can offer several options for their service compensation ranging from one-time consultation fees to hourly charges to flat fees. All you have to do is ask which option is right for your needs. For example, if you just wish to have someone come into your home and assess a particular room and provide some suggestions, they may charge a flat fee. If you are building and want help with cabinet design, granite and tile, paint colors and carpeting specifications, they will most likely charge you an hourly fee for these types of selections. Designers are also happy to work with your architect on space planning during the design phase for an hourly fee. If furnishing a whole house (existing or new) most designers will agree upon a pre-set mark-up of furnishings and provide a full-service installation of these items.

Selecting an interior designer
Once you have determined your need for an interior designer, selecting one is the next step. Ask your architect, builder, or realtor for a recommendation. Visit merchandised sales models in new residential developments or look through local home magazines. Surf websites. Start a Pinterest board. If you have a friend who has used a designer in the past, ask them about their experience. Don’t worry if your friend’s tastes differ greatly from yours; a truly talented designer is comfortable working in many different styles and will accommodate diverse tastes.

Most important, a professional designer will respect your budget and help you adhere to it.

After you have compiled a list of potential designers, conduct interviews to see whom you would like to work with on the project. Visit their design studios. Be honest about your expectations, desires and, most important, your budget. Ask to see their portfolio or visit projects in person. Get a list of references and make a few calls. Consider a visit to a recently completed project; most designers are happy to make these arrangements.

It is one thing to see a pretty picture, but to actually be able to walk into the finished product is truly telling. Communication is key. By doing a little homework, you can select the right professional to help make your dream home come true.

Gregory Vaughan is an interior designer with Kelley Designs, Inc., located at 841 William Hilton Parkway in South Island Square. For more information, visit or call (843) 785-6911.

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