Questions We Want To Know Before Your First Interior Design Meeting

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So you’ve never used an interior designer before? We get it, using a professional interior designer can be a daunting and intimidating experience. It doesn’t have to be. It’s not about letting someone into your home to supposedly impose their vision and good taste. A good interior designer will listen and hopefully make it an exciting creative process for you, and if you start the relationship with an open mind and with a clear idea of what you want out of the process, it could be one of the most rewarding things you can do for you and your home. And this doesn't just mean, a brand new bathroom, kitchen or bedroom. Any designer thrives from having as much information as possible, as that gives clear parameters and a goal to work towards, so "I don't know," or "I'll know when I see it, "just won't cut it. There is a degree of anticipation between both the client and the designer when a project begins, and a good interiors specialist will want to make you happy, it's your space, your money and you have to live with it at the end of the day. We've taken the time to give you a few pointers on what to expect during your first meeting, as this conversation is the foundation of the project, and the right information and attitude will go a long way.

Where is the location?

It sounds obvious but knowing the location beyond the postcode is essential. What kind of building it is it, how old, and where is it situated will affect any renovation. It's critical we get easy access for our builders and equipment so they can get inside or behind the property. We may have to remove doors or walls which will affect living conditions and then increase the cost dramatically. Giving your interior designer the heads up on this before they arrive is useful as they can do some homework or already have some inherent knowledge about where you live if they've done work there before.

What is the age of the property?

Certain buildings are made of certain materials that were popular at the time of the build. Asbestos can be found in older buildings. Having plans of your building will help us locate any load bearing walls which need be supported if there any major structural changes. Chimneys often cause issues depending on how they are constructed and part of the outside walls. We also may find characteristics of the original makeup of the building during your renovation which you may want to keep, and very old building can be listed and there have restrictions and require special planning requirements and permissions.

What is the local area like?

Is your property near a local conservation area or area of outstanding natural beauty? Does the council have strict regulations on how high and long a loft conversion can be in your street? Again, planning restrictions will be required when it comes to adding elements to the outside of your building when it comes to extensions, lofts, chimney removal, or changing the visual aesthetics which can directly affect the local area and neighbouring properties. One thing you can do is check out the buildings around you and talk to neighbours who have successfully added to the homes. Another way to see what other buildings have done is to contact your local council or check out their website to see what's been approved or unapproved. Most planning permissions have to be made publicly available so people can contest them, and this will give you an idea what issues may lie ahead without having to spend anything or get into any stressful bureaucratic red tape. Of course, we can help take a look at this for you too!

How much help do you need?

Interior design help isn't always a significant renovation, perhaps you just need styling of a room rather than a new kitchen or loft extension. Each project comes with its own requirements which can be creatively demanding. Making a small space attractive is just as daunting as building a brand new patio extension for a designer. Sometimes we need help, or you might need your designer to source other professionals like architects, engineers, contractors, wall art curators, textile designers. Getting a group of specialists can be the most exciting part of any interior project! We can take care of the whole process for you, from start to end and manage all the different works people so you don’t have to worry!

A good interior designer will listen and hopefully make it an exciting creative process for you.
— Omar Bhatti

What are you looking for design wise?

Tell us your idea for your home, it doesn't matter how crazy or simple they may be. Do you prefer open plan living, are you looking to move a room into a different part of the home for example, like a kitchen to the back of the house or to install a bathroom in the loft? Putting all the ideas on the table to formulate a brief is the fun part, so don't hold back. Another great way of sharing your thoughts with us is to do our next tip. Another important consideration for any designers is knowing what furniture you intend to keep as that may inspire or dictate the look of your new interiors. Go through your property room by room with reasons why as you could potentially source alternatives, try to mark them with post-it notes for the initial meeting as it will help a designer pick them out visually from your itinerary.

How many rooms or spaces need work?

An Interior designer isn’t about just making your home pretty, it is a functional space after all. There is no point installing expensive ceramic side lights when you have a two-year-old on the loose. We want to know how you use your home, do you entertain a lot as space will be essential and designing a kitchen where the host can socialise whilst preparing is important, will children share the communal, therefore, giving a living or dining room a dual purpose, do you have any pets as durable soft furnishings will be a priority? Practicality is key for any major design choices, so come up with a list of how and when you use your home.

What are the timescales like for this project?

Knowing if your home project needs to be completed by a set date is essential, as planning permission could take up to three months and any renovation work could last weeks and last over several months, especially if unexpected problems delay any part of the process. Consider if you want the building work to happen over the summer or winter period, as you will have to put up with noise, drafts, dirt and dust in your home. If you are living in the space, we also need to know as this will affect how we stagger the renovation, so there are private spaces for you to reside in. If you are planning to go away or receive visitors we also need to know as we can add this to the calendar of activity, ensuring we get your new home complete for your moving in date.

What is your budget?

An interior designer will break it down and create a scope of work and budget allocation for you, but you will need to have an idea of the amount you'd like to spend.  Ask your designer for a list of considerations if it seems all too overwhelming for you, then you can research and put some numbers to paper ahead of the consultation which we can review with you. Depending on the work required your budget will need to cover contractors, building materials, fixture and fittings, planning permissions, building regulation approval, architect and structural engineer fees, furniture, and our interior design services. Understanding how payment is made to contractors is handy to know, depending on your suppliers they may demand certain fees up front, but you also have the right to negotiate to hold money back from contractors upon completion depending on the scale of the project.

Have you factored in a contingency fee?

Be prepared for unexpected problems to crop up, a good interior designer is always prepared for this and will factor them into their proposal, and flag them up in plenty of time. Though sometimes a hidden pipe or a rejected planning submission may require you to rethink how to realise your vision. A good design team who can problem solve situations like this involve an understanding client who is prepared for such events. A client who doesn't care about the details and wants to doggedly stick to a deadline will end up disappointed and frustrated. We want all our clients to be happy but realistic, so having a contingency budget set aside is a good fallback. We suggest 20% of your overall budget. If you don't end up spending it, you have more money to buy things later!

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Will your builders need parking permission?

You will be surprised how many people overlook parking. With trucks, diggers and skips appearing outside your home, your builders will start getting annoyed with you if they don't have the right permits or discover they're not allowed to park outside because they receive a ticket from your local traffic warden. You will end up footing the bill for any unexpected parking charges.

How will building debris be removed?

You will need to load and unload a skip for all the debris at some point so looking into how much a local skip permit costs from the local council is essential, they may have a daily rate and charge for blocking a car park space. HIPPO waste bags are a fantastic alternative to skips and come in various sizes, they also include pickup and removal as part of the price! https://www.hippowaste.co.uk

Have you created a Pinterest Board?

Pinterest is a social media channel designed for interior lovers. You can lose yourself down a rabbit hole of pins and boards. Create boards based on the type of room, use of space, fabrics and materials, colours, furniture styles. Don't forget, it's also a good way of showing us what you don't like too. You can visit the Space Shack Pinterest for inspiration. Don't forget you can also use Instagram and visit our blog for further ideas.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

Ask us anything, we are there to make the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible, we are there every step of the way to help you realise your dream home.

If you have any more questions or would like to chat about a project you have in mind get in touch by emailing us at omarb@spaceshack.co.uk or call us on +44 (0)7943 284787