Décor Diva: At what stage should you enlist the services of an Interior Designer?

During the course of a conversation in the office the other day, one of our old gripes emerged again. It is an old bone of contention that we tend to chew on every now and again. But I feel it is a very valid one.

Well, the beauty of the Décor Diva column is that I am able to express my opinion. Let’s always bear that in mind – it is just my opinion, but in this case I know that I am not the only one that holds this opinion.


Here goes:  It’s all about timing! What timing? This timing – at what stage do you enlist the services of an Interior Designer? The answer to this must seem pretty obvious. “At the time when the actual construction of the house, office, shop commences?  Not so! The correct answer is – during the planning stages. (Please note I am talking about the Interior Designer – not the Interior Decorator. The Interior Designer deals with construct, hard finishes and space planning issues, way before the décor is considered).


If your intention is to build your home or office who would be the very first professional in the design business that you would work with? The Architect naturally – they design and plan the structure that you have in mind.

But, now this is such a special project to you and you want it done right, plus you have budgeted for the services of an interior designer to assist you with features and finishes.

Well then, once the architect has the initial plans up and running, that is the IDEAL time to include the expertise of the Interior Designer, not after construction has begun and the space has begun to take shape. The reason – a good design team consists of an architect, interior designer and developer / construction company – working hand in hand, each bringing their brand of expertise to the project. For this reason there are a great many architectural firms that have an interior designer or dept on board. They work together from the start of the planning phase.


Too often have we come on board after the planning stage, with construction well on its way already. Too often have we encountered big space planning issues on sites which puts us under tremendous pressure to perform, without having the time to go through the proper design process? Too often have we had builders demanding plans from us when we have actually just come on board? Bad Timing!!

Please don’t get me wrong, I have a ton of respect for architects and their extensive knowledge. They are a breed of professionals who come out of years of University training and carry extensive technical knowledge.  Something that blows my mind at times.


Interior Designers spend more time working with floor layouts, space planning, interior features (bulkheads) etc and have thus sharpened these skills and developed a keen eye. Interior spaces are their turf and as such their interpretation of space is a vital link from the start. A skill which compliments the architect.

I have seen how our skills and services can make a huge complimentary difference to the architecture and so, I would say – for a successful project build, ensure the inclusion of the interior designer happens from the start…

4 thoughts on “Décor Diva: At what stage should you enlist the services of an Interior Designer?

  1. Great post Rose. And so pertinent. Words can’t describe the frustration I’ve had when I come onto a project and ZERO space has been left by the architect to stack curtains so they end up covering half the window when not drawn. Or should we even talk about how nice it would be to install wall lights sometimes without the prospect of chopping out a brand new wall in order to fit three electrics. Just a bit of planning in advance by allowing the decorator/designer to have some input into the electrical plan would be great! On the other hand, there’s no great joy when clients have the foresight to get you involved early…

  2. Hey Kim – when I wrote the article I really thought that since it was me expressing my personal gripe, that it may be a boring read for others. Turns out that there are more that share my gripe. BTW – what about the power points in a room – sometimes the architects allow for them in the oddest spaces – particularly in bedrooms. “And the gripe goes on….” ( hummed in tune to Cher’s song ” and the beat goes on”.

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