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Welcome Back Advertiser Michael O’Neill Interiors!

We’d like to welcome back NPB Advertiser Michael O’Neill Interiors, who want us to share the following information with our Readers:


Designer or Decorator?
The technical definition of a designer often used is one who reconfigures the space i.e. moving or eliminating walls, windows and architectural elements; adding or changing built-in elements such as cabinetry and fixtures. Interior decorators’ forte is usually construed to be finishes, furnishings, accessories and artwork.

You are looking for professional results when designing your project. Some professionals only do interior design and some do only interior decorating, but there are many who overlap and do both. In reality most professionals will call themselves either interior designers or interior decorators even though in essence they are an interior designer decorator because they do both designing and decorating. For our purposes we’ll use the term interior designer to be all inclusive.

Interior designers serve as artisans for clients looking to cultivate a certain type of look and or solve problems for their space. They advise clients on how to think out of the box and allow their creative ideas to synchronize with the realities and possibilities of the space being designed. They help to set overall design concepts and incorporate budget-saving ideas that still allow the space to reflect a certain level of taste and function. A good designer will take stock of the resources you already have in place and help you determine how those resources should best be allocated to ensure that your design goals are met within your budget.

A degree or professional organization affiliation does not guarantee a designer’s abilities or creative talents. Their portfolio, work history and references are the best gauge of their qualifications. Interior designers who have many years experience may not have a Bachelors in Interior Design, but usually are well educated and have learned their craft in the real world.

You should consider a few things before deciding on an interior design company. These considerations include:

1. Personality

Are you compatible?
Get a feel for the person or firm. Do you feel comfortable working with them? Do you have confidence that they can manage the task of designing your project? Being able to work closely with your designer is important because clear communication between client and designer is what will ensure a great result. Pay close attention to how well they receive your ideas and whether they are willing to take the mix of your ideas and their expertise to create a beautiful space.

Ask what size projects the interior designer has worked on, where, and what the budget range was.

Competent designers will a have many questions for you about you and your project. Be prepared to talk freely about problems and concerns.

2. Vision

Does the designer understand your aesthetic vision for the project?
Peruse the interior designer’s portfolio, but remember that the designs will reflect other people’s tastes, not necessarily the interior designer’s, and possibly not your own. Look instead for overall effect – use of color, composition, dramatic appeal – wow factor.

It always helps an interior designer when his or her client has some ideas in mind before beginning the design process. Pulling pictures out of books or magazines helps to give the designer a visual of the direction you want to take with the decor in your space. While you shouldn’t expect to get the exact look of your examples, your designer should be able to get a feeling for the style you are after. However, your reason for hiring a design professional should be to tap their creative juices and achieve a unique, personal and outstanding look.

After they have seen your site, how well do they understand your project? Listen to the types of ideas they have. Do they seem to understand your point of view? Do they seem organized and remember points you brought up?

3. Budget

Can the designer work within your budget?
Establish a budget. Work out details. What can you afford? Many companies specialize in working with people on a budget. However, before you hire a designer, you do need to figure out exactly what the limits of your budget are. The designer may be able to give you rough guidelines, but budget ultimately needs to come from you. Remember, it is not the amount that is important (because the best designers can work with any reasonable size budget), but rather that you understand your monetary limit before you hire an interior designer.

Ask how the established budget will be handled, and the kind of payment schedules the interior decorator requires.

4. Time Frame

Can the designer commit to the deadline you need?
Discuss time frame. What are your time constraints? Estimate how long the project will take. Will the project be phased? If so determine priorities. What should be accomplished in each phase? Bear in mind the more work that can be completed in one phase the more economical the whole project will be. How long can the space be “under construction”?

5. Fees

How do designers charge for their services?
Hourly Rate: The interior designer bills a per hour rate.

Per Diem: The designer bills a daily rate.

Flat Design Fee: The client pays a flat fee for the professional interior designer’s services based on the design plan, time required, and scope of services.

Cost Plus Method: Professional interior designers charge a set percentage on all merchandise purchased and tradesmen’s services rendered.

Mixed Method: The client pays both a set percentage on purchases and a base design fee for hourly rate.

6. Role

Exactly what is the scope of the designer’s involvement?
Ask about the types of services the designer can provide. Will you require construction drawings and or renderings? Who will purchase product? Who will hire subcontractors? What do you expect as far as project management? This later consideration is of utmost importance. Some clients feel a designer’s job is done once the specifications and drawings are done and product ordered. Releasing the designer at that point is a recipe for disaster! In order for a designer to best serve their client they should be on board until the project is completed. Cost, quality and maintained vision invariably suffer if this is not the case.

Michael O'Neill

The most common misconception that exists about the interior design industry is that the process of using professional design services is expensive. The converse is usually the case. Without a designer you could likely end up spending much more money because of the process of trial and error or avoidable mistakes and end up with a mediocre project. Particularly in today’s budget-conscious economy, interior designers are working with clients on how to get the best interior design concepts for less. The best way to navigate the process is to bring this topic up during the interview stage to ensure that the company you choose has some experience designing and sourcing on a budget.

Finally, if an interior designer, or anyone for that matter, tells you the process is easy, stress-free, and will be complete in two weeks, they’re either lying or naive. Don’t hire that person! It should be, however, an adventurous, fun and definitely rewarding experience.

To learn more about Michael O’Neill Interiors, click here, or call (206) 290-3303.

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