Busting 5 Design Myths

Paul Miller, Interior Designer. Five Myths About Working With A Designer.

By Paul Miller

Interior Designer, IDS Professional Member

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Interior design makes spaces look great and function optimally. Thoughtful consideration of lighting, space, color, and organization can improve our quality of life and our mood. Yet many people choose not to seek professional help for a myriad of perfectly understandable reasons.

Read on for 5 persistent myths that may cause cold feet about working with a designer.

 
Our Daffodil Hill project, as seen in our  2018 Year In Design . A comfortable and stylish living space also provides optimal storage for the family.

Our Daffodil Hill project, as seen in our 2018 Year In Design. A comfortable and stylish living space also provides optimal storage for the family.

 

Where Would We Even Begin

Faced with a series of spaces that need attention, it is easy to feel that there is no logical starting point. All the same, the best places to start are the rooms that are working for you the least. If you wish the living room was a little more polished but working in the kitchen puts you in a bad mood, it is a no brainer that you need to start in the kitchen.

Generally the most commonly and most communally used rooms, such as family room, mudroom, and kitchen, offer the biggest immediate benefits once their design is perfected. However, when working with a designer for the first time, getting to know them better over a guest room design is another possible choice.

 
Before: This room posed a challenge for furniture placement because it is a through room with a dominant traffic pattern. High contrast trim and wall colors made the beautiful architecture look busy.

Before: This room posed a challenge for furniture placement because it is a through room with a dominant traffic pattern. High contrast trim and wall colors made the beautiful architecture look busy.

After:  We simplified the paint palette, creating a larger looking space and allowing the architecture to shine. Optimizing the furniture layout and decluttered the accessories created a space our clients could enjoy as a family.  Photo: Matthew Lofton

After: We simplified the paint palette, creating a larger looking space and allowing the architecture to shine. Optimizing the furniture layout and decluttered the accessories created a space our clients could enjoy as a family. Photo: Matthew Lofton

 

Design Is For Other People

What I suspect when people say this is that they imagine design clients to be very formal people who never eat food with their fingers and who hang wallpaper even in their cleaning closet.

 

“Paul listened and worked closely with us to make our home a perfect place to live.”

-Shyama R.

 

The truth is that our clients represent a lot of different kinds of personalities. Most are very specific about wanting their homes to be casual, relaxing, and unpretentious. Really the common threads for people who seek design help are that they want their homes to function smartly and look pulled together.

My Motley Crew Would Destroy It

Probably the most pervasive myth is that designed space is somehow too delicate for real life. There was a time (and there are still some places) where design equates to formality. Today professionals in the design and home furnishings trades are dedicated to producing outcomes that work for real people who have real kids and real four-legged friends.

There have never been more options for fabrics that feel good and clean up easily. Working with designers who advocate for durable natural and man-made materials, tabletops, counters, and flooring can be visually pleasing and enduring.

In our Downtown Winchester  Loudoun Row  project we employed rugs, art, lighting, and accent furnishings to add drama and warmth.  Photo: Matthew Lofton

In our Downtown Winchester Loudoun Row project we employed rugs, art, lighting, and accent furnishings to add drama and warmth. Photo: Matthew Lofton

Our Project Is Too Small

Many clients have told me that, leading up to approaching me, they had concerns that I would only want to work with them if the whole house was on offer. In truth, the majority of our projects are one or two room changes at a time.

“[Paul] has completed a couple of rooms in my new house, and I am more than impressed. He knew exactly what my husband and I wanted, incorporated our own items… and brought in new, exciting pieces.”

- Morgan O.

There are many reasons that this can be highly effective for both client and designer, not the least of which is that a well-designed room is a top to bottom, highly detailed plan, even when the finished results look deceptively simple. From the client’s perspective, going to the one room at a time approach is a way of getting used to the process, while managing the output of expenses.

It is a good idea to talk extensively with your designer about big picture goals to help assure that each room is setting up the next one for a successful design that flows visually and functions smoothly from space to space.

This does not mean that a detailed plan for each space needs to be drafted before any single space can be designed, but it helps to know you have always wanted a rustic country kitchen before the adjacent family room is designed in a sleek urban style.

It Will Cost Too Much

This is a trickier myth to bust, because design typically involves investing in furnishings, lighting, and other necessities of comfortable and usable rooms. Our firm advocates for sustainable and responsibly sourced furniture, which means that crafters are making a living wage and makers are practicing good environmental stewardship. This drives up the cost to a degree, but with quality construction comes lasting performance.

 

“[Paul’s] professionalism and exquisite concepts satisfied all our needs along with listening to our desires and budget.”

-Jane V.

 

What a designer can provide with little relative cost is a point of view. An audit of the space to identify simple layout suggestions and advice to include wall color and lighting improvements can be very informative and help to show a roadmap for how to get some changes started. As sage experts often say, mistakes are costly in and of themselves.

Letting a professional iron out the details before any output of expenses is a wise way to make investments in your space.

 
Thoughtful fabric selections and other small changes improved the overall mood in this breakfast nook.

Thoughtful fabric selections and other small changes improved the overall mood in this breakfast nook.

In this  kitchen , we doubled down on the sunniness of the space by balancing a light and cheerful yellow with bright white trim and medium greige cabinets.  Photo: Matthew Lofton

In this kitchen, we doubled down on the sunniness of the space by balancing a light and cheerful yellow with bright white trim and medium greige cabinets. Photo: Matthew Lofton

 

What To Do?

As with seeking any professional help, the first steps are reaching out to the person of your choice to find out more about their working style and how they can help you get started. Dispelling some of the most persistent myths about designers will hopefully make it easier to seek help when the time is right for you.


If you are interested in our design services, please tell us about your project!