Go With a Pro

Go With a Pro

by Sharon Staley

So you know you want cool, pale green walls and contemporary furniture with a neutral palette, but how do integrate the antique linen press that you always loved in your grandmother’s house?

And how do you decide which is the perfect shade of green by looking at a tiny paint chip? And find just the right sofa and fabric? And then there’s the rug – more neutrals, a swirl of color, maybe even an Oriental with a rich tribal pattern to add a bold touch?

So many decisions. And if you’re building a new home or remodeling, all those other questions keep popping up: Tile floors or hardwood? Granite countertops or Silestone? Which plumbing fixtures and hardware for the kitchen and baths…on and on.

The best decision you can make is to hire a professional interior designer. He or she can work with your ideas and dreams to shape a final vision and achieve it. And as a longtime designer, I can assure you that the knowledge and skill a pro brings to your project will save you time, money and headaches. Time because the designer knows the products available in the vast marketplace and the sources, and money by avoiding costly mistakes – which, of course, bring on the headaches.

As a past and current president of the Gulf Coast Chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), I encourage you to consider choosing one of our professional members. They are trained to interpret your lifestyle in designs that will make your home reflect your taste, making the most of your space and budget.

In addition to coordinating the numerous details – from working with the trades to arranging the accessories and hanging the art – a licensed ASID designer addresses environmental and health issues. Some specialize in a particular phase of design, such as kitchens, baths, physically challenged, aging in place, feng shui, “green” design, historic preservation, even closets. Each is required to complete yearly continuing education courses to maintain a license, as well as to abide by strict professional codes and standards of conduct.

Here are some things to consider when preparing to work with an interior designer:

  • Create a wish list. Before the first meeting write down your basic thoughts about your project, ie. size, style, layout, special features, how you plan to use the space.
  • Value chemistry. Get to know the designer’s personality. Notice how she/he carries herself/himself and communicates. Is she/he excited about your project? Do you like her/him?
  • Be open and honest. The only way a designer can meet your goals is to be privy to your world. That includes details about your daily life, as well as the truth about your budget and schedule. Communicate during the project and express your opinions.
  • Choose a listener. Thoughtful answers to your questions and copious note-taking are sure signs that the designer is paying attention.
  • Communicate your vision. Pictures can often tell the story better than words. Present the designer with a folder of magazine clippings. Walk through the space, naming not only your favorite aspects but also problems you hope to solve.
  • Strive for collaboration. The mutually beneficial way to achieve that great space is to conceive something together.

The key to a successful project outcome is good communication. The more direct and specific you are, the easier it will be for the designer to successfully meet your needs and expectations. Never hesitate to ask questions about any aspect of the project. Before authorizing the designer to begin work, take time to discuss fees, as well as other charges or expenses you may incur. Ask for a cost estimate that should specify the scope of work and the type of fee structure the designers uses.

When ASID finds an opportunity to present an ASID Showhouse, it is truly a special event. This is a unique experience where you can see numerous ASID designers work in the same showhouse. ASID designers collaborate to showcase individual efforts, keeping unity with the overall flow and function of the house. During showhouse hours, often the designers will be present in their spaces. This allows for the opportunity to actually meet them and see their work. ASID’s next Showhouse will be in Sienna Plantation in April 2011. You won’t want to miss it. Call the ASID office (713.626.1470) to get on the mailing list.

Another must see is the annual ASID Bazaar. This is where designer items are available to the public at unbelievable prices. Take advantage of the showrooms turning over their products for new inventory. Items that could be found at the Bazaar are: art, accessories, furniture, antiques, plumbing fixtures, carpet, fabric, lighting, etc. This is one place you really can find that item that is “just the right thing”. The next ASID Bazaar will be the last weekend of April 2011.

The Fantasy Gala is a very unique experience. This is a fabulous gala where interior design materials and products are used in fashion creations. Come and enjoy the fun of this incredible event. ASID is bringing back this event in 2011.

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