Hiring an interior designer for a home improvement or other building project may not be at the top of your list of things to do. But without one, you may find realising your dream a difficult task. This is especially true if the project in question has a lot of interior space. Yes, an architect will help you design the layout, but if you really want the space to sing, then nothing beats what an interior designer offers.
A good interior designer will help you find the right colour scheme and furniture as well as guiding you on how to place them to make the best of the space provided. They can even help with functionality if the new building has a specific purpose, like an office for example.
Of course, you may feel you know exactly what you want from your new indoor space. But even with the best intentions, the sheer amount of work involved in any home improvement project can often push things seen as less important to one side.
Even if you know you need an interior designer, getting the right one is never easy. But don’t worry because in this guide we’ll dig into what an interior designer does, how they can help your project, why you should hire a local interior designer, and how to choose the best one for your project. Let’s get started with our guide on hiring an interior designer in Oxford.
What does an interior designer actually do?
An interior designer’s main purpose is to create indoor spaces that look and feel exactly how the client wants them to. Their main purpose is to source and place furniture, decorative items, colour palettes, or other functional decorative items to create a space that is both usable and aesthetically pleasing. They will also help with things like lighting and artwork to make rooms really stand out.
Interior designers can be hired for small jobs, like a bedroom or living room, or for larger projects, like a whole house design or an office space. Here are a few of the areas that an interior designer may specialise in:
- Corporate Design: Some interior designers focus on office and business spaces where they will be focussed primarily on functionality.
- NHS and healthcare interior design: Healthcare interior is a thriving niche of the industry. Every GP, hospital, and dentist office will need careful planning to ensure that equipment is placed effectively as well as being pleasing on the eye for patients.
- Kitchen and bathroom design: Some interior designers focus primarily on kitchen and wet room design. This is a thriving part of the industry due to the regularity in which people improve these spaces.
- Living space interior design: Some interior designers work primarily on living spaces. They help to design the layout of things like bedrooms and living rooms and will make sure the spaces are functional and aesthetically pleasing.
At what stage does an interior designer come into a building project?
Whilst an interior designer doesn’t tend to play a role in a project until work is almost complete, it is often a good idea to get them involved as soon as possible. This way, they will have plenty of time to figure out the requirements of the job and come up with ideas (which they can then run by the project manager). It will also give them time to source, create, and order materials.
Once the main internal and external structural work is complete, the interior designer will step in to bring life to the space with decorations, colours, furniture, floorings, and style.
Where can I find an interior designer in Oxford?
Interior design is a niche part of the building and decorating trade which can make finding a good designer near you tricky. But never fear because here are a few tips to help you out:
Use the Internet
The internet is a great place to start any search these days. Google “interior designers in Oxford” and look for professional websites with plenty of pictures of previous work. Look for testimonials or customer reviews and read the comments of previous customers. Unlike builders and plumbers, you won’t find most interior designers on rating websites like Checkatrade.com or Ratedpeople.com, but it might be worth taking a look anyway.
You can also browse social media. Sites like Facebook and Instagram are great for getting a feel for what previous customers think. Instagram in particular is a great place to see photographs of previous work so you can assess it against your own needs. The BIID website (British Institute of Interior Design – link here) has a handy list of members that can be searched by location to find those based in Oxford.
If you know anybody who’s recently completed their own building project, ask them who they used and if they would recommend them. They may give you a glowing review which could help you to cut down the amount of times required searching. On the other hand, they may provide you with a negative review which will help you understand who to stay clear of.
Ask friends and family if they know anybody they would recommend. But don’t take their word for it. Once you’ve received a recommendation, do a little background research yourself. Check websites and social media for reviews. You may find that your next-door neighbour’s sister’s friend may not be all that reputable after all.
Look in trade magazines and publications
Many trade magazines and online publications will feature the work of designers. Browse through the images they provide and if you like the look of the work, take down the name and contact details of the interior designer. It’s safe to say that a designer who’s work is featured in a publication may be in demand or expensive, but there’s no harm in making an enquiry. And even if you don’t end up hiring them, you will at least have a better idea of the sort of things you are looking for to pass onto the person you end up working with.
The benefits of hiring an interior designer
Most building projects complete without an interior designer’s involvement, mainly because homeowners tend to feel that the cost of hiring one is unjustified when they already know exactly what they want. But not hiring an interior designer can be a mistake and may lead to problems as a project progresses and your time becomes stretched. In this section, we will look at the reasons why we think you should hire an interior designer for your project.
They can sometimes help you save money or even make money
If you are a building project or home improvement newbie, you may not fully understand how difficult the process can be. It’s easy as a first-timer to get dragged into the “I want that” syndrome and throw the budget out of the window to get exactly what you want. An interior designer will work within the budget you set and will look to provide you with exactly what you want without breaking the bank.
On top of this, using a professional interior designer may actually increase the value of your home. A property listing with an interior designer’s name attached to it can be more appealing to potential buyers.
Professional assessment of what can be done
An interior designer is a professional and will have completed hundreds of jobs similar to yours. Because of this they will be able to better assess what can and can’t be done in a project and will not be swayed by emotion. They may even surprise you with some of their suggestions and deliver a design that exceeds your expectations.
An interior designer will know where to find the best materials for your home. They may also be able to get them much cheaper than you can. This can be vital if you’ve set your heart on an ultra-expensive oak dressing table that you just have to have in your newly designed bedroom. Or you want an expensive cast-iron bath that your interior designer can source from a reclamation yard for a cheaper price.
Most interior designers think outside of the box and will look for ways to improve the space they are working with. This can often lead to suggestions and results that give a bigger wow factor than the original plans would have provided.
Take a load off
Nobody fully understands the pressures of renovating or improving a house until they are neck-deep in builders, plumbing issues, and decorating problems. Even with the best intentions, no building project is stress-free and very few run without a hitch. Hiring an interior designer can help remove some of the stress that comes with the project, especially in the later stages.
The benefits of hiring a local interior designer
Hiring local is more than a buzzword these days. Getting tradesman and designers that work in or near the area you live, offers a variety of benefits over hiring somebody from out of town. Let’s have a look at a few in detail.
- Local interior designers understand local buildings: Hiring an interior designer local to the Oxford area means hiring someone who has worked on properties similar to yours before. They will have a better insight into the best layouts and will understand how to bring the best out of the building.
- They can work quicker and are generally easier to contact: If the interior designer lives nearby, then they will have fewer issues getting to and from your property. Communication will also be easier and they should be able to address problems quicker and with less fuss.
- Local reputation is king: All businesses rely on their reputation and word of mouth to be successful and make money. But for businesses local to your area it is even more important. If you hire a local interior designer whose work is poor, then the odds are you are going to tell somebody about it. They will then tell somebody else and the people they speak to will tell other people too. Word of mouth can destroy a business quicker than a pandemic. This means a local interior designer is likely to try to protect their reputation at all costs.
How to choose an interior designer in Oxford
Realising that you need an interior designer doesn’t make choosing one any easier. Here are a few tips to help you select one:
Before hiring an interior designer ask them about their style. Look at pictures of previous work and see if they can provide what you are looking for. There’s no point in hiring an interior designer who specialises in ultra-modern stylings if you are looking for the country cottage look.
Make sure they understand the timelines of the project
Because an interior designer comes into a project much later than a builder, plumber, etc., its important that they understand the timeline of the project. Getting them involved early is the key and making sure they are available when building work is complete is essential. You don’t want to end up with a lovely new space that you can’t use because it has no furnishings.
Look for somebody you get on with and understands your needs
This is perhaps the biggest tip we can offer when hiring an interior designer, look for someone who you enjoy working with and who listens to and understands what you want from the project. There’s nothing worse than a fractious relationship when you are already under stress. Make sure the interior designer listens to what you want and be wary of anybody who seems to be ignoring your requests to shoehorn their own ideas into the project.
Understanding that you need an interior designer is half the battle. Finding a good one for your building project is the other half. We hope you found our guide useful and that it makes the job of choosing an interior designer easier the next time you’re looking to improve your home.