Could Beth change your life?
10 ways that enlisting the help of an interior designer has not only helped save hours of my time - and money - but my sanity too.
If you thought that an interior consultation is something only for big builds – or a budget busting service that you can’t afford – think again! I had one room in my house that I just couldn’t get right – and I didn’t want to waste my time or money stressing about it any longer.
When we moved in five years ago, our sitting room contained no less than two large windows, a front door, a hall door and two sets of double doors. I kid you not. We’ve filled in one set of double doors already, giving us some much needed wall space. But there’s still much more to be done (watch this space for a Sitting Room Update feature and some Before and After pics!)
So I enlisted the help of brilliant local interiors guru Beth Barker – and here’s everything you need to know about why I am now evangelical about design services.
1) You can save money
Interior design doesn’t have a reputation for being cheap. But reserve your judgement. Even some of the top designers, now offer a single room service (see below). Gone are the flat fees, followed by hourly rates, followed by a mark-up on purchases. Pricing is increasingly transparent and services offered in simple packages – so don’t rule it out.
I’m just as impatient as the next person, but one thing I have learnt the hard way is that jumping in feet first – and thinking I could do everything myself – cost me more in the long run. Beth’s advice? ‘Avoid buying twice. Get someone in early enough so you don’t make mistakes that you just have to undo. Even buying the wrong sofa is an expensive mistake you don’t want to make.’
2) They are the experts
I don’t even trust myself to dye my own greys, so why would I let myself loose on something that arguably requires even more experience and skill? (Okay so I did my own roots during Lockdown – but with very varying degrees of success!)
When we took on our ‘project house’ I realised that while I might be happy to select cushions and paint colours there was slightly more to getting everything right than that. We had doors in the wrong places and rooms that just served as corridors. ‘If you need someone to help you with your vision, let the experts solve your house woes in next to no time – so that you can get on with your job/life.’
3) Bite size services are available
This was the real game-changer for me. ‘Even some of the top designers, now offer a single room service to just focus on any tricky spaces you may have,’ says Beth. If it’s just inspiration for soft furnishings in one space – Beth can do that – she has extensive knowledge of fabrics.
She offers a £85 per hour door-to-door consultation service (this fee takes into account time travelled) and included in this fee is a full Report provided afterwards. Prior to that you’ll also have a phone call with Beth to talk through the very basics at the beginning.
‘I ask clients to gather any images or ideas in advance of my visit – whether it’s a few bits they’ve seen on Pinterest or a full-on Mood Board,’ explains Beth. ‘Obviously sometimes the client has no idea of anything or why something isn’t working – and that is fine too. They don’t have to have any sense of direction. Hopefully, by the time I leave, they will!’
4) Gives you confidence
I had a good idea about what I wanted, and had been going around in circles for years, because I didn’t want to make mistakes that would cost me more money in the long run.
But it turns out all I needed was a good designer to be my sounding board and tell me that I was thinking along the right lines – and this is a very common experience, according to Beth. ‘For a lot of clients all they require is a bit of hand-holding so they feel able to go ahead confidently and be far less afraid,’ she explains. ‘With an interior expert onboard you can build on your ideas and just get it done.’
5) All about the feels
All houses give off a feeling, a buzz if you like, from the moment you walk through the door. ‘There are simple ways to create atmosphere in a space,’ says Beth, ‘and on the flip side it’s easy to make mistakes that ruin the vibe – but these can be easily corrected,’ she continues.
Beth’s approach is very holistic – even if you’re enlisting her help for a single room project she will want to tour the house as a whole to see how it fits into the puzzle. Beth says: ‘Each individual room needs grounding and they need to be part of a whole.’ She adds: ‘Having a working vision for the end goal, look and feel of your property is so important to help you navigate through each part of the project.’
6) The space will reflect YOU
Beth says that you shouldn’t be able to walk into a room and know which interior designer worked on the project. ‘I always say, it’s not about me – it’s about YOUR character and tastes.’
Beth prides herself on being a good listener and interpreting what her clients want – or if they don’t know – what reflects their personality. It’s not her aim to leave her mark or become known for recreating one signature style – each project will be original – with the common denominator being satisfaction.
And on that subject, it’s important when choosing a designer to feel the right chemistry between you and them. ‘Your interior designer might be in your space for anything from a few hours up to six months – or even a year,’ points out Beth.
7) Time, time, time
Is there anything more valuable than the gift of time? Studies show we are a nation who feels increasingly over-worked and time-poor. And, if there’s one thing in common with each house project, it’s that you need the headspace to get it sorted.
Whether you have a young family or you work – or both – what many of us don’t have is the luxury of time. ‘One of the things I hear most often is how much time clients have spent deliberating on how to move forward,’ says Beth. ‘By investing in an expert from the beginning you will avoid expensive mistakes and missed opportunities that often take so much time to rectify or that never allow the potential of your space to be fulfilled.’
From not knowing where to begin, concerns about cost, running out of steam half-way through – renovation and remodeling stress takes on many forms. ‘Usually home renovation stress isn’t the result of a singular issue but rather multiple issues or challenges,’ says Beth.
Creating homes for families and couples is a personal thing. A good designer will integrate themselves into your daily life and understand your family’s wants and needs. By delegating interiors projects to the hands of interiors experts you can get on with your day job – or just life – which is busy enough already, right?
9) Relationship saving
Plenty of things test the strength of a relationship: Christmas, breaking down on the motorway, emptying the dishwasher. But nothing has the potential to cause rows quite like embarking on a property renovation project.
‘Before I embark on any project I also insist that I tour the property in question with your husband or partner too – so that I get a complete picture of what both people want,’ says Beth. ‘All too often the reason that couples get stuck on moving forwards with projects is not agreeing on what it is they want or having different tastes.
‘I pride myself of being good and finding that middle ground, drilling down to what they really want. In the end it all comes down to compromise and balance – I’ve never been in a situation where I can’t make it happen,’ adds Beth.
10) The big build
Beth has worked in architectural interior design for over twenty years, and she is highly accomplished as a designer and project manager. She has skilfully co-ordinated a wide range of developments, including hotels, show homes and listed buildings.
‘Sometimes clients need help on a complete home remodelling project – and I’m fully comfortable with construction, conservation and building regulations,’ says Beth. ‘Getting someone onboard who fully understands the workings, costs and logistics of this tricky territory can save you time and money in the long run.’
Do not under-estimate how much having a house that really works for you and your family on a daily basis has the potential to massively improve your quality of life.