Q. The kids are getting older, and I can finally plan to build a new home. I know basically how I want the house to look inside. Do you think it is wise to hire an interior designer to review my plans?
It probably is a good idea to include an interior designer in the intermediate design phase of planning a new home. The initial meetings should be with the architect. Bring along any house photos, magazine clippings, etc., to give the architect an idea of what you are looking for. A picture truly is worth a thousand words when designing a home.
Once you have a basic concept of the style and layout and a target budget, you can include a builder (general contractor) and an interior designer in subsequent design meetings. The builder may have the most input at this point because builders typically have the best handle on current construction costs. Your budget may call for some design revisions.
You may want to discuss some alternative building methods with your builder. Stick-built lumber houses and concrete block houses are common in cold and warm climates, respectively. The newer, more efficient construction methods often produce a stronger house, which allows for fewer interior support walls and greater interior design flexibility.
Your architect — or actually, the engineering staff — can advise you about what is possible with various construction methods. If you prefer large exposed timber beams or arches, these often provide adequate strength for longer, unsupported free spans and open room layouts.
With your basic layout and construction concepts in hand, your interior designer can give input as to how to decorate and position furniture in the rooms.
Provide the designer with as many catalog photos as possible and photos of the pieces of existing furniture and wall hangings you plan to keep from your present home.
This is particularly true for the kitchen and bathrooms, so the builder will know where to provide blocking inside the wall for attaching items and fixtures. Any recessed lighting should also be planned.
Also discuss what activities will occur in each of the rooms. This will be very helpful to an interior designer to determine the type of furniture and its spacing. The foot traffic patterns are also important. The interior designer may suggest changing the locations of openings to adjacent rooms to provide more effective traffic patterns.
Most local architects and builders can provide names of interior designers that they have worked with. The key word here is “designer” and not “decorator.” Many designers have a college degree in design.
If you cannot find a local interior designer, contact the American Society of Interior Designers, at asid.org or 202-546-3480; and the International Interior Design Association, at iida.org or 888-799-4432.
There are two basic questions interior designers will have for you. They need to know about your decorating and interior design budget. They also will ask you to decide between your “wants” and “must-haves.” Neither your builder nor your interior designer will be able to provide everything within your budget. Having to make changes at the last minute can be expensive.