Preventing costly design mistakes

Hiring an interior designer can save headaches on renovations

Lana Lounsbury (left) and Andrea Bauer of Lana Lounsbury Interiors in Central Saanich.

So you’ve bought a home, or maybe you own a home or office in need of some renovations. The task to plan a project within a budget can be daunting, but hiring an interior designer can help with the bulk of a project’s stress, says Lana Lounsbury.

Lounsbury, who is a registered interior designer out of Central Saanich, says hiring a designer can help with a number of things, cost savings being one of the most important.

“Hiring a designer can ensure that you’re not going to make huge, expensive mistakes,” Lounsbury said.

“I’ve come in halfway through renos in some cases where the people are just so defeated because the project isn’t turning out how they’d planned. An interior designer can see a project through from beginning to end and ensure that it turns out exactly how you planned, and in most cases, better.”

Lounsbury said a general fee for an interior designer usually works out to be around five per cent of the project cost.

“Of course, it’s dependant on the size and scope of the project, but five per cent is a good rule of thumb,” she said.

Interior designers, she continued, will come and consult with the homeowner or renovator and work up a plan for the space.

“Generally, a designer will work up two or three versions of a plan after the initial consult. Once the homeowner has decided which plan they want to go with, a designer will follow the project through the whole way,” she said.

This includes the designer overseeing things like installation, layout and any final checks before any portion of the project is started.

“When you hire a designer, what you’re getting is someone who is thinking about the whole process and someone who is there making sure it is done right. The role of a designer is not only to plan and inspire but also to implement and make sure that what you envisioned actually comes through,” Lounsbury said.

Lounsbury said hiring a designer comes down to personal preference, but there are some specific factors to watch for.

“Most interior designers are registered with the Interior Designers Institute of B.C. (IDIBC) but it’s not mandated,” she said, adding that if someone isn’t registered, it doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t good.

“The most important things are going to be ensuring that you look at samples of the designer’s work and see if it speaks to you. Any good designer should have ample references, testimonials and project photos,” Lounsbury explained.

She also noted that all designers should be covered by WorkSafeBC and errors and omissions insurance.

Ultimately, Lounsbury said, an interior designer will ensure a homeowner’s satisfaction with a project.

“You might spend a little more on the designer’s fee, but what you save is liability, the headache of planning and executing a project on your own and having someone there who can pull it all together for you. Even if a designer saves you from one mistake, that’s a cost savings,” she said.

And, Lounsbury added, there’s the benefit of having a designer purchase the renovation materials for you.

“Designers often get wholesale pricing on things, so even with the designer fee you’re probably looking at close to the same cost of buying things at retail. Plus you get the expertise of the designer who knows the best places to source things and what materials you should be investing more or less on,” she said.