Get upto speed: are you ready to meet an interior designer?

“Your house is made by its own needs. Those others are made by the need to impress. The determining motive of your house is in the house. The determining motive of the other is in the audience.”
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Words of wisdom. It’s your home. Design it the way you have always dreamed of.

Double height ceiling living room culminating in the terrace. The living and dining with tall, wide windows. flanked on either side by garden. A flood of natural light fills up the house. Long walkway leading to the bedrooms on the first floor with double height living room on one end and staircase on the other.

That’s our home. It’s dramatic. We fell in love the first time we saw it.

The architectural simplicity made the task of designing interiors hard as we wanted to retain the essence as we saw it the first time.

Laminate or veneer?

Wallpaper or paint?

Ethnic or contemporary design?

When you start interiors, you are faced with a million questions and choices. This is just the beginning.

You need to do a little lot of homework before you meet an interior designer so you are familiar with the terminology, materials used, etc. Here’s a quick list to get you up to speed and how to judge from your interaction if the designer is right for you:

  • Visit the house without an agenda a couple of times. Ideas will flow freely; you will start visualizing yourself living in the home ; where you want the wardrobes in every room, how you cook in the kitchen, TV positioning as per your family habits etc. Make a note of all the basic wood work you intend to get done. In my experience, you are the best judge for this. For instance, some designers asked us to have the TV in the family room and not in the living room as the latter is for entertaining. But, if you are a family that likes to gather around the TV every night for dinner watching anything from Dynamo Magician Impossible to The West Wing, there’s no way you are going to change that habit and walk up to the first floor.
  • Measure: Note the dimensions for every piece of wood work.  For instance, let’s take the guest bed room. We earmarked the wardrobe location in the bedroom: 7 feet width and 7 feet height. this makes it 49 sq. ft. Similarly, note down the sq. ft area for every bed room and other miscellaneous units.
  • Budget: Prepare a master excel sheet with the sq.ft area to be covered. Why this exercise, you may ask? To compare apples to apples and not with oranges. This will come in handy to compare quotes as every designer will give you a per sq.ft quote such as 1,000 per sq ft to 2,300 sq.ft based on the material. This will give you a rough idea of how much to spend on wood work and serves as a reality check.
  • Educate yourself on materials. Decide on the material: ply with laminate, block board, marine ply all over, ply with veneer finish, rubber wood, teak wood etc. There are many informative blogs such as Positive Indians. the other day I was checking msupply and found it interesting if you intend to procure the material yourself.
  • Most importantly, almost all designers we have met so far first ask you what your budget is and work backwards. It’s good to budget for interiors and know the number in your head. But, I prefer this approach. Knowing what wood work is must-have and what is nice-to-have. The previous post on budgeting should give you an idea of how much to allocate for interiors. .
  • Experience shows. When someone is able to advise how to make judicious use of a space, or if a bathroom is too big, or if a wall should be knocked down, in the first interaction, then that is worth something. Some of the memorable and enjoyable interactions I have had with are carpenters or people who have been in the field for long. They look at a space and talk dimensions.
  • Lastly, go with your gut. Reviews and testimonials are fine, but personal comfort is more important.

Our brief to select a designer was simple: minimalist, no false ceiling, work along with us on the design, and keep up with the timeline.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the tools you can use to design and work along with your designer if you are keen on designing yourself.

Lastly, this is what I have learnt. The lesser the notes compared, lesser the confusion and more peaceful sleep at night. And resist the temptation to do it all at once. Let the home grow with you. Leave space for memories to be made.

“Why is it so important – what others have done? Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why is anyone and everyone right – so long as it’s not yourself? Why does the number of those others take the place of truth? Why is truth made a mere matter of arithmetic – and only of addition at that? Why is everything twisted out of all sense to fit everything else?”
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead