One thing I noticed as my friends started buying houses is that the designers vs. non-designers bought based on very different priorities. In general, my designer friends seem a lot happier with the home they decided to purchase. Why? One reason is because they don’t let aesthetics and cosmetic issues overshadow the bones and functionality, but they also identify potential issues a lot earlier than non-designers.
I seldom watch house-hunting or renovation shows because many are not very realistic, but when I do, a frequent comment I hear is “I really don’t like that paint color.” It drives me nuts! Changing a paint color is literally one of the easiest and most affordable things to change in a home. Paint color is often addressed while things like the floor plan circulation are often ignored.
To be fair, most non-designers just don't know what to look out for. This is why hiring a certified interior designer can benefit you. A formally educated and trained interior designer can go with you to visit prospective properties and give you an idea of what it would take to make a house more like your home before you go to settlement. Further, an interior designer can save you money by not only pointing out some foreseeable issues, but also giving you solutions so you can buy that home on that perfect street and renovate within your budget. Last but not least, an interior designer can recommend whether or not you should hire other specialists such as an architect or structural engineer. Don't know any architects or structural engineers? No problem, because many interior designer do.
Most people feel that hiring an interior designer is an unnecessary expense. I once did a walkthrough of a finished basement in which someone wanted to add a full-bath. They thought the best place for the full bath was all the way at the back of the basement past the tv room in a room they were converting into a guest bedroom. I was in the room for less than 5 minutes and already knew that it would make more sense for the bathroom to be adjacent to the stair in the current storage room that was nearly empty, where there was already plumbing for the half bath above. That would save labor related to new plumbing as well as building new partitions, but this plan would also make the bathroom available to those in the tv room when they did not have a guest visiting.
Locating the bathroom at the back of the basement would have likely cost more money and been less functional from a space planning standpoint. Most formally trained designers would have been able to figure out a more effective floor plan in a few minutes as I did - imagine what a designer could tell you in an hour. Further, imagine how much money could be saved in the long-run by meeting with a designer at a property before putting in an offer.
As defined by the Council for Interior Design Qualification, professionally educated and certified interior designers "...apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants' quality of life...
If you plan to make any renovations to a new home the earlier in the process an interior designer gets involved the better. I cannot tell you how many times homeowners call my studio 3/4 of the way through a project - that's way too late, especially if an interior design is coordinating with other professionals. The best scheduled projects hire interior designers before the current homeowners even move out. You would be surprised how much we can do with basic measurements.
Renovations take time and so do furniture deliveries. Some furniture can take upwards of 8-10 weeks to arrive if it is something you are not buying off of the showroom floor. In addition, there are other considerations. Thinking of removing any old carpet or refinishing wood floors? It is much easier to have this taken care of before your move in date. First, you do not need to worry about damaging any new furniture during install, but you also need to more furniture once instead of twice. If you are ordering new furniture as well, most interior designers would schedule things so that the furniture is delivered after a flooring install. Same goes for any painting - moving and tarping furniture is a pain and it takes more time and labor especially if you have a lot of furniture. Time is money.
If you hire an interior designer early enough in the house hunting process, and the scheduling pans out just right we can have your house remodeled before you move in. Happy house hunting!