If you had to describe what an interior designer does, what would you say? Before I got into the interior design business I was in the financial world. I hired interior designers to do my design work and, I must admit, I really had no idea the depth of what they did. I knew they helped you make decisions about colours and furniture, but I really didn’t understand how comprehensive the job was. Until I started doing it.

Building or renovating a residential or commercial space requires a lot of skill. And the ability to make the space look amazing, while working with budgets and timelines, is not that easy. This requires several different skill sets.

I think the perception of designers has been that they are glorified pillow fluffers. Expensive and indulgent. The reality is, however, that the success of your project depends upon a solid design plan. And it isn’t enough to rely only on your builder or architect. You need a team to help you put your vision together. And getting the right team is crucial. Often the builders or trades want to be the designer – too many voices can become confusing. My motto is ‘why hire a dog and bark yourself?’. If you hired a designer let them do their job.

So what is their job??? Let’s break it down to four different steps.

1. Design Development

A designer will focus on the overall design concept for the home. It includes the selection of all interior and exterior finishes. Flooring, light fixtures, plumbing, paint, and cabinets etc. That part you probably expected. But it also includes interior elevations, which highlights tile details, plumbing and lighting locations, stair design and any focal areas within the home. Then comes millwork design – which includes the design of the kitchen, all bathrooms and any other built-ins within the project. Once all selections are made, you should be provided with colour boards for both yourself and your contractor for final visualization and future reference.

2. Documentation

Next your designer will be documenting all the information from the design development . This is all about the budget. It also includes providing a millwork plan, reflected ceiling plan with basic electrical layout, detailed elevations, a detailed interior specification document highlighting all interior and exterior finish selections as well as any specific installation instructions. Sounds easy, right?

3. 3-D Drawings

Very few people can visualize what their space will look like when it’s completed. I think you are better off spending a bit more to make sure you’ve chosen correctly. It’s amazing how realistic 3-D drawings can be. Your designer can include everything you’ve chosen, including actual artwork and furnishings. You know what they say, an ounce of prevention…

4. Furniture and Accessories

The final step is adding furnishings, fabrics, rugs, accessories, artwork, window coverings and any other finishing touches required. Then everything will be labelled and input into the floorplan to ensure correct sizing and make for an easy installation. Once everything has been received a team of installers should be arranged to deliver and assemble all of the items.

All that and helping you deal with the emotional side of a build – the waiting, the indecision, the possible design impasses with spouses or partners, and the many other things that come up with a build. Designers are great sounding boards! Even if all you need is a second opinion. It makes my financial career feel a lot less complicated. When you contemplate all of the many hats a designer wears I think it is clear we do a lot more than fluff the pillows. At the end of the day we certainly earn our keep – and make the process a whole lot easier.