There are a number of misconceptions about interior design and what interior designers actually do. The one I hear most is that interior decorating with a professional is expensive. That’s both true and false. You can spend as much or as little as you’d like, but interior designers don’t determine that. There are much more important things for us to consider when it comes to beautifying your home, and I think those are vital for potential clients to know. Thinking like an interior designer will ultimately help you save money, time and possible frustration when making decisions regarding the space you invest and live in.

What’s your motivation?

Here’s a tip the typical interior designer won’t tell you: your budget shouldn’t be the first thing you think about when designing your space. I, like many of you, believed that for years when I lived in an apartment. Now I know the most important thing is being intentional with your decisions. That starts with asking what you want to do, and why you want to do it.

I recently worked with a client who had a multi-million dollar home. After several rounds of exchanged thoughts and pitched concepts, I finally had to ask her, “Can we talk about why this is important to you?” The conversation took us in a completely different direction with design. I think she is a much happier home owner because of it.

Before you consider how much you want to spend to design your space, ask yourself a few questions: Why do you want to design your space? What’s most important to you in a space? What would you notice was missing? Is there something about the entire space you don’t like, or only certain aspects of it? Do you want a complete overhaul, or does the space need just a few adjustments? Asking these or similar questions will help you properly plan the design.

How do you want to feel?

The next question to consider is how you want to feel when you spend time in a room. Whether it’s the living room, bedroom or kitchen, ask yourself what mood you want to be in when you’re in that room. Do you want to feel vibrant and alive, or relaxed and calm? Will it primarily be a social area where people hang out, or a place for rest or moments of clarity? Does red create the energy you want, or is blue more impactful?

This line of questioning is key because many clients stop at what they want out of a space visually. But that’s simply making a series of choices. What I do as an interior designer is focus holistically on creating the entire space! When skilled interior designers do that well, you can walk into a space and immediately sense the intentioned vibe. It’s not just one piece here or something there; it encompasses everything! You don’t necessarily see it; you feel it! As an interior designer I want you to think about experiencing that feeling whenever you step into the space we create together.

What’s your timeline?

Making a space yours is a step-by-step process. It. Takes. Time! There’s no rule that says you  have to design every inch of your space at once. Think about it: we all naturally but slowly add things to our homes: new photo frames, rugs, art, etc. Just begin with what’s most important to you.

Start with one desired purchase at a time, and make more as you are able to. If you cannot purchase the coffee table you want right now, get some of the books you want to put on it. You will be one step closer to completing the intentional feel you want in your space! Opt to get the lamps or lampshades you want, and wait to get the side tables. Switch out your bed sheets or comforter, then do the head board. It will ultimately shape up to be all that you want it to be.

Did you notice none of the considerations mentioned have anything to do with specific dollar amounts? That’s exactly my point, and that’s what an interior designer should help you think about. It doesn’t matter to me how much or how little a client has. I can furnish an entire home from what many would consider “budget” retailers or online sites. When it comes to interior design, it’s never about choosing a high-end retailer over a less expensive store. A beautiful pillow is a beautiful pillow, regardless of where it was purchased. What matters is if it evokes something special within you, and if it enhances the overall appeal of your space.

This is how I and other helpful interior designers think when it comes to designing a space. I encourage you to consider these questions for your next interior project. I guarantee it will bring more meaning, definition and long-lasting happiness to your interior design plans!

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