Interior designer Trisha Isabey shares the real reasons why you should hire a pro for your next home project

1. ValueTrisha IsabeyI understand the dilemma. You have a project you want to begin and that project comes with a pretty big price tag. You are trying to fit in all of your wants and are concerned about coming in over budget. How, on top of all of the other expense, can you afford to hire an interior designer?

Let me begin by saying that I used to feel that way. I wasn’t sure if I needed someone to do it—especially if it meant sacrificing in other areas of my home. Before I started my interior design career, I hired a designer to help me build my first home. That was when I began to understand the value.

If you’ve never designed a home, or done any major renovations, you may not be aware of the amount of time it takes to do it. And trust me, it’s a crazy amount of work that involves a seemingly endless number of decisions. In addition to the time it takes, it can be a bit overwhelming for someone without experience.

If you are not involved at all, if you leave all the decisions up to a designer, you can expect that your bill will escalate. Having said that, there are many reasons why you can’t afford not to hire a designer.

Here's how an interior designer can help you make the most of your next home reno project...


1. Value

valueTrisha IsabeyThere are many homes out there that just don’t grab you. They are boring and predictable. There are also many homes that are disjointed with poor layouts and design features. There are a handful of homes that are amazing—and I may be overstating it when I say a handful.

So, what makes a home amazing? Design. Someone with the ability to take your wants and needs and put them together in a plan. It’s not as easy as it looks. You have to deal with the geography of your lot, the building restrictions in your area and the other homes around you.

One of the hardest areas to deal with is choosing all of your finishes. This takes talent—ensuring that all of your finishes complement one another. It can be a bit nerve-wracking choosing and committing to flooring, plumbing and lighting. Add in wall coverings and ceiling detail and you may find yourself rocking in the corner in the fetal position.

A good interior designer will help you choose the right finishes and should be able to provide you with 3-D renderings. If you nail your design, I guarantee you will increase the value of your home. You can expect to pay anywhere from $100 per hour up to $300 depending on where you live and on your designer’s experience. You can get a quote in advance—typically outlining the scope of the designer's work and how long they estimate it will take. There are many things that are involved—review of your plans, selection of finishes, weekly site visits and furniture planning. Your designer can work on all or just parts of your project. It depends on what fits your needs and, of course, your budget.

2. Sanity

2. SanityShutterstockLet’s face it. Building a home or undertaking a renovation is hard. You have so many decisions to make and, on top of it all, you need to find the right products to work with. Then, throw in negotiating some of your choices with your spouse and you have the makings of a perfect storm.

My job always entails a little mediation. I can usually help couples get over some major hurdles, which means relieving some stress. That really is what I do. I relieve the stress of the build, not entirely, but substantially. There are so many choices on the market today, it can definitely be overwhelming for many. Even if you are good with design, it is beneficial to work with a designer as they can help confirm that you’re making good decisions.

3. Experience

3. ExperienceTrisha IsabeyThis is not a designer's first building project. There are so many things we learn along the way that can save you time and money. Materials that are higher quality, trades that do better work and many other details. Going on your own can be an expensive learning process. And when it comes to an investment as massive as building or renovating your own home, you often can’t afford to learn from your mistakes.

An example of this is room size. When you look at your house plan, it’s hard to tell whether or not the room sizes are going to work for you. I place furniture to scale in each room to show you how it will feel. This can eliminate a lot of problems. It’s like the old saying: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."


4. Time

timeTrisha IsabeyBuilding a home is a full-time job. Renovating a kitchen or a bathroom or two can take dozens of hours. If you are working in your own career, you will be taking valuable time away from it, from your family and from other obligations. And because it’s not what you do on a regular basis, it can take you a lot longer. I call that the opportunity cost: time you could be spending making money at what you do best.

You are often better off taking some time to put together photos of designs you love, whether it’s tearing sheets out of magazines or creating inspiration boards online with sources like Houzz, Pinterest or Instagram. It gives the designer a feeling of what you are going for. I find that if a client supplies me with their design wish list, it helps speed up the process immensely, which can also cut down on costs.

5. Results

5. ResultsTrisha IsabeyA good designer will give you gentle nudges, help you think outside the box and hopefully, give you some ideas you’d never have thought of yourself. They should still be able to keep your vision in mind, but also expand on that vision and give it more depth. Being safe is OK. It just doesn’t stand out.

Of course, there has to be some measure of trust between you and your designer, so when hiring, choose someone who has a consultative approach and takes the time to understand your tastes and even more importantly, your lifestyle.

One of my favourite parts of the job is when I can provide that little extra something—that surprise element that can truly make a room, or a home, unique.  And the look on the client’s face when they see it! That is why I do what I do.