Well don’t ask me. I’m just making this all up as I go along. But it is something i’ve been asking myself a lot since I started “treading the boards”.
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Our loft extension starts in two weeks so we've been busy clearing out our loft. Aren't old photos just the best treasure? Here's me, aged 4 in me tutu. I was a dancer in a former life. Trained for 17 years and graduated from the NSCD with a degree in 2000. Life has so many chapters doesn't it? Dance was my biggest chapter to date.
I have no formal training in interiors or design whatsoever. As you may (or not) already know, my background and training is in dance and it went on to be my career as a teacher and project manager until I became a mum nearly four years ago.
I have learnt A LOT about what it is to be an interior designer since setting up Making Spaces and it might not be what you’d expect. Partly why I started this blog I guess, to share some of the realness behind all the lovely glossy photos you see in magazines. Those photos are about 2% of what an interior designer does from day to day.
Most people i’ve worked with on a design project have been reluctant to tell others they’re working with me. And I get it. It sounds like you’re minted, you’ve got money to burn and you’re “proper posh”.
“Interior Designer? Ooh, check you!”
Not true. We live in a modest three bed semi, with a hefty mortgage and a slightly smaller income than we’d like. As do many of the people i’ve worked with so far so I thought it might be useful to share with you some of the reasons people have contacted me in the past….
… And what i’ve learned about my role as an interior designer in the process.
- I just don’t have time
This is the main reason people have been in touch. Believe it or not, not everyone likes decorating and re-doing rooms in their home. I know!? Isn’t that mental? People work full time. Spare time over evenings and weekends is rare and precious. How the hell are they supposed to redesign a room too?
Aurelia clock – made.com
How many days would you have to take off work to re-do a room? If you’re able to work that out and action it, you probably don’t need someone like me. If not, your options are to moan about your room for the rest of your life or get an interior designer in and get on with it.
Interior Design = dedicating time to make things happen
- I’ve got too much stuff
People never actually admit this initially. They go down the “I need more space/storage” route. But ya know, it’s the same thing in my opinion. Most projects have required some serious downsizing of stuff. We’re all guilty of it.
I’m certainly not adding more furniture or shelves to your room so you can fill it with more “stuff”, or you’ll be needing me to come back in another year’s time for me to re-design it. Let’s work the other way around and fathom out why you’re running out of space.
Interior Design = sensitively dealing with negative lifestyle issues such as hoarding, clutter.
- I can’t see the space any more. I need fresh eyes
This one’s a biggie. And it’s so important to get some perspective from a “stranger”, as it were. Have you found when you buy a new rug, cushion, anything for a room, when you walk in, it’s the first thing you see? It takes some time to get used to it and then you just stop noticing it all together. Well for most of us, that’s what our whole house is like (unless you’re a faffer like me, where I move things all the time to keep the husband on his toes).
We don’t see our homes anymore. To us, it’s all normal and fine and then suddenly it isn’t.
Interior design = A fresh pair of beady eyes that can see past the now and focus on the “potential.”
- My husband and I don’t agree. Help!
Working with an interior designer is an excellent route to go down if you and your partner have differing ideas about how a room should look and function. I’m an objective eye, on nobody’s side. I’m on the side of good design. And if something goes not entirely to plan, you have someone to blame. Doesn’t that make everyone feel better?
Interior Design = creating harmony, avoiding discord, providing evidence and reasoning behind decisions, taking responsibility when things go wrong. And sometimes, a bit of stealth marriage counselling
- I don’t know what I want
Yeah you do. Honestly, you really do. And I think this has been the most interesting thing i’ve learnt so far. I don’t design a room I like and plonk it in your house, I work directly with you, tease it all out of you. You are my inspiration. You, your life, your belongings, your home.
After a little extra push, I convinced these homeowners to wallpaper their entire front room. So glad they did. Final reveal of this room coming v soon.
I’m a body language reader, tone of voice checker and most importantly a big fat enabler. I’m here to challenge and push you a little bit more than you may have wanted to go, not money wise, but with the design. We get your room looking how you imagined it. Only better.
Interior design = mind reader, enabler, bordering on empath
- How much will it cost?
This is the question I dread and can never answer. How long is a piece of string? How much work needs doing? Are you expecting Ikea or Conran? Do you want me to do everything or do you just need ideas? You can certainly do a room on a budget, and I have as I do love a challenge. You set the budget and I work to it. Just don’t tell me you want your living room decorating, a new sofa, lighting, artwork, rug etc. for £500. I’m not a magician.
I’m there to manage expectations and have been the bearer of bad news at times bringing giddy clients back down to earth on the £’s front. It’s here where the creative thinking comes in, that and some savvy product research.
Interior design = managing budgets, expectations and thinking outside of the box to find solutions
- I need someone to sort it all out for me. Can you just do everything?
My job really does include everything. Project management, problem solving, co-ordinating and communicating with trades (nightmare), product sourcing and ordering, signing for deliveries, overseeing works, snagging, styling, generally being available to everyone involved at all times. This is by far the most difficult bit. And the bit I lose sleep over. This is where the expense lies. Designing a room itself is not expensive, but the execution and project management is. Want to take three months off work to plan and manage a refurb? Please be my guest. Want me to manage your project for three months but only wanted to spend £500? I’ll get my coat.
Interior Design = Communicating. Liaising. Planning. Budgeting. Site managing. Quality control. Customer service. Personal shopping. Key holder…. (i’ve ran out of words)
ANYONE who thinks i’m caressing cushions all day or flipping through fabric swatches and charging £100 an hour for the privilege… take note of the very delicious Mr Cary Grant. I hate curtains. Cushions are ok. I’m much more interested in solving problems creatively and making things look good at the same time. Multi-tasking at its best.
Have you worked with an interior designer in the past, considering it? Tell me your experience. If not, would you consider it? Would love to hear your thoughts ladies and gents.