September 28, 2022

happy-House

The home veterans

8 things an interior designer can do for you and your remodel

5 min read

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Anyone who has ever built a home or launched a major remodeling project knows how time consuming and stressful it can be to get through planning, design and construction. 

Homeowners must make hundreds of decisions, and many of them are expensive. Those not familiar with the world of construction may even feel like their contractors are speaking a different language.

A good interior designer can help with those decisions, says Houston designer Cassandra Brand of Cassandra Brand Interiors, a speaker at a recent Access Design event, co-hosted by the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Design District.

A cowhide rug stitched into a geometric print sits beneath a custom table designed by interior designer Cassandra Brand. The walls are painted Sherwin-Williams “Peppercorn.”

French Blue Photography

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Brand talked about the designer-client dynamic and how designers can be a voice for clients. She offered these eight ideas for the role a designer can play in a construction, remodeling or decorating project.

1. Represent you

Brand, like other designers, begins projects getting to know clients to understand how they use a room or a home. Knowing even small details can help with ideas for a more functional kitchen or a bathroom that has everything in the right place. When a designer can make a home reflect its owner’s personality and lifestyle, the homeowner is likely to be happier with the finished product, she said.

2. Guide decision-making

Homeowners are expected to choose flooring, wall tile, hardware, cabinets appliances and even know where they want every electrical outlet early in the construction process. That doesn’t even include the myriad decisions made about furnishings, decor and paint colors.

Brand said that she and her peers see the big picture from the start and can be a guide for the order in which decisions need to be made and products that fit clients’ taste, budget and lifestyle. Since many products are available at a variety of price points, they can guide you to saves and splurges that help you get the look you want within budget.

They create a laundy room out of some of the breakfast room, and a stylish nod to the mod colors of the 1960s — when the home was built — come in orange and gray tile.

They create a laundy room out of some of the breakfast room, and a stylish nod to the mod colors of the 1960s — when the home was built — come in orange and gray tile.

FrenchBlue Photography

3. Problem-solving

No home construction or remodeling project is finished without a glitch or two. What matters most is how a homeowner’s team – the architect, builder, designer and sometimes even the landscape architect – handle them. They take everyone working together to find the best solution, whether it’s figuring out an electrical issue or getting windows right. Sometimes, Brand said, problem solving can result in something being even better than it started.

4. Part of a team

Brand noted that home construction projects really are the result of a team of people with overlapping skill sets. When the team is hired together at the beginning of the project, a homeowner won’t have to backtrack to make changes.

MORE FROM DIANE COWEN: Four Seasons Houston gets a top-to-bottom renovation

For example, if kitchen construction is underway without a designer, a homeowner might have chosen cabinets without seeing special options that add function, or they might not have seen a wide variety of flooring, backsplash tile or lighting. Ordering new things midway through can potentially stall the work. A designer might even offer ideas that a builder might not think of, such as adding electrical outlets for an operational hair dryer in a bathroom drawer or setting up a tech station in a mud room.

The Youngs’ new home in Briar Grove Park has a big living room connected to the kitchen and with a wall of windows looking into the backyard.

The Youngs’ new home in Briar Grove Park has a big living room connected to the kitchen and with a wall of windows looking into the backyard.

French Blue Photography

5. Keeping the design focused

When homeowners hire a designer and yet start making all kinds of purchases because they find things they like, designers half-jokingly refer to that as “going rogue.” Certainly, some design projects begin with the goal of an eclectic aesthetic, but often a designer has to guide homeowners to furnishings and finishes that will have a cohesive look when a room or home is done. 

At the same time, an experienced designer can help a homeowner use cherished family heirlooms that may not seem to fit a new design aesthetic, Brand said.

6. Providing access to unique things

The web has made home goods available to more people, but many luxury products are still available to “trade only,” meaning the general public can’t buy them without an architect, builder or interior designer. Designers also are constantly shopping for clients, so they know what’s new, where to find deals and where to find things that won’t make your home look like a cookie cutter design. It should also be noted that those things aren’t always more expensive.

The living room has a great bar with stylish tile, though with kids at home, it’s more of a beverage center.

The living room has a great bar with stylish tile, though with kids at home, it’s more of a beverage center.

FrenchBlue Photography

7. Avoiding costly mistakes

This might be the smartest reason to hire an interior designer. Their ideas can help you avoid bad purchases or mistakes in the layout of your home. Brand cited one homeowner who launched a new construction project and brought her in for help later. The home’s kitchen island had been constructed without a counter overhang that could accommodate barstools and make it a place for people to sit and visit or do homework or even at meals. They had to buy a new slab and reinstall a bigger counter, costing them at least a couple of thousand dollars.

8. Talk about money

A final note, she said, is that clients should talk to designers about money upfront. They need to know if a designer charges hourly or with a flat fee and if there are service charges placed on anything they purchase for you. You also need to ask how you’ll pay the designer, with a monthly invoice or lump sums.

Project budgets are important, too, so they’ll know how much you want to spend and they can distribute the money across things needed to finish a room. 

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