If you have a home design project on the brain (and you’ve already downloaded our Interior Design Project Planner), you’re probably wondering how to start assembling a team.
Although I’d love to say, “hire Blakely Interior Design!” — the reality is that starting with an interior designer may or may not be your best move. It depends on your particular scenario.
So let’s dive into exactly who you might want to invite to the table…
Who Is Actually Involved in a Design Project?
Let me quickly define the role of each person who might help bring your home dreams to life. You may need one or all of these people for your project, but we’ll cover that in a bit.
A Realtor can help you find the perfect home OR the perfect plot of land on which to build.
Surprise, surprise, this is the person (and team) responsible for the actual building of your home, from studs to standing, and managing the construction end of the project.
Architects are the pros behind designing newly constructed homes. They’ll take your lifestyle wants and needs into account and plan out the structure of a space to match. Think structurally-sound floor plan.
An interior designer oversees the space’s design AND its project management. We plan the flow of the space with respect to your lifestyle and desired home products, suggest/select your materials and furnishings, oversee installs, and more.
A structural engineer is responsible for the structural integrity of a major renovation. For example, if you want to create an open concept space (like in our Greenwich Remodel), you’ll need a structural engineer to assess the walls you want to remove and make sure the upper level won’t come down with them!
Project Scenarios to Consider
Depending on your scenario, you’ll want to start your team with a different person. These are the scenarios I’ll be walking you through…
- Project A: New Build
- Project B: Existing Home Renovation
Project A: How to Assemble a Design Team for Your New Build
A Realtor can help you locate that perfect plot of land. Once it’s yours, the project passes into the hands of everyone else.
KEY PLAYERS: Realtor, Builder, Architect, Interior Designer
STARTING POINT: Realtor AND… Builder OR Architect OR Interior Designer
First, some words of wisdom… If you’re constructing a new home, the BUILDER IS KEY, and the best ones are those who consider themselves one part of the team.
Think of your project’s team like a hub and spoke. You, the client, are the hub. We, the designer, architect, and builder, are all spokes that equally contribute to serve your goals. We will collaborate and make recommendations without putting that burden on you.
I’ve seen so many relationships where the builder goes directly to the homeowner and the homeowner says… “Wait, let me check with my designer and get back to you.” We don’t operate that way.
Our teams work together to bring a solution to you, not a problem.
So, where do you start recruiting?
You can start with any of these 3 key players, most typically the architect or the designer. However, we’re partial to starting with an interior designer, and we have a good reason — it’s the depth we go to when designing for your lifestyle.
Whether you start with an interior designer or an architect, it’s imperative they’re both brought into the process as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’re bound to have some re-work based on all the little details of how you want to live in the home.
For example, we worked with a client recently who wanted a super-sized TV, but the wall space didn’t allot enough room. Since the architect and builder didn’t know about this client’s wish from the get-go, we eventually had to eliminate a window to make it work.
When an architect and designer work together from the start, we can get into the nitty-gritty to be sure that all your goals will be met and your dream house can be achieved.
Another advantage of starting with an interior designer is that we typically have experience working with a range of architects and builders and can direct you to the best options based on your style and design aesthetic.
Project B: How to Assemble a Design Team for Your Renovation
Your Realtor can help you find the perfect neighborhood or home for you. Bonus: if there’s an interior designer you’re planning to work with on the reno, you can bring him/her into the home-shopping phase. They’ll help you map out your needs and envision the potential of the homes you’re vetting.
KEY PLAYERS: Interior Designer, Architect (if doing a major addition where the exterior footprint/roof lines of the home is impacted), Structural Engineer (if removing load-bearing walls), and a Realtor (if you’re looking to buy something you intend to renovate).
STARTING POINT: Interior Designer OR Architect
Many people tend to start with a builder or contractor for their renovation project. While that’s certainly an option and achieves the basic need of getting it built, you may compromise the final outcome without engaging a design professional.
Some people start with a builder because they have no idea what their renovation project will cost, but the reality is, without a plan and general selections and finishes, the estimate will never be accurate.
Builders will give you allowances for all of your materials (such as tile and countertops) and fixtures (such as lighting or plumbing), and then it’s on you to find all of these elements… AND make sure they all work together… AND fit them within your allowance.
This is where it gets overwhelming for most people.
An interior designer’s role in a renovation project is to select materials and fixtures that harmonize with your overall aesthetic and work with the rest of the home. A designer is also trained in space planning and making sure you maximize your space for the intended function.
Some renovations don’t require an architect, but if you’re planning a large addition or significant structural changes, your interior designer will loop them in early to ensure you’ve got the proper team on board. You could also start with the architect, as long as they loop in an interior designer early too.
Either of these approaches will help you get a space that authentically reflects how you want to live.
I hope this advice has been helpful and that the process is a little more transparent now that you know your options. Whichever your starting point, we can guarantee that opting for a professional with a buttoned-up process is the way to go.
Keep in mind, too, if you’re planning to work with a designer, they’ll also have resources like wallpaper hangers and window treatment installers who are all part of their expanded team. You need not go out and find all these people — we’ve vetted them for you!
Last but not least, if you haven’t yet downloaded our Interior Design Project Planner, I highly recommend it. It’ll help you with realistic budgeting, understanding timelines (so you know WHEN to start assembling your team), and more.