Top 5 Reasons to Hire an Interior Designer vs. Doing it Yourself

Image of interior designed elements of a living room

As I was preparing to launch Katie Alabiso Home Design in 2010, I spent an extensive amount of time conducting market research. I asked friends and family if they would ever hire an interior designer. Why or why not? Of those that wouldn’t; the primary reason was that interior designers are too expensive. Interesting.

There appears to be a misconception that hiring an interior designer is a luxury only available to the rich and famous. In all honesty, it is an investment that can save you valuable time and money. I could expound for hours on the many reasons to hire an interior designer, but I’ll focus only on the top five here.

Reason #1 – A Professional Designer Can Save You Money

You may scoff and roll your eyes, but I kid you not. An experienced interior designer has been schooled in the many facets of lighting, architecture, design styles, space planning, and so much more. By contrast, the average DIYer is simply winging it. If my many years in this industry have taught me anything, it’s that winging it never works. HGTV shows may make things look fun and simple, but we should know by now that reality TV is anything but real.

Let us run through a scenario of your average living room redesign project.

The Smiths want to redesign their living area. They make at least three trips to the Benjamin Moore to find the perfect shade of gray. Thinking they’ve finally found it; they invest in four gallons of high-end interior paint to the tune of $59/gallon. Having painted the first wall they realize that the color is not gray at all but an off shade of gray-green reminiscent of their grandmother’s living room (which was very hip, back in the 70s).

On top of the paint snafu, the Smiths soon realize that the sectional sofa they ordered is not only too big for the room, but won’t fit through the front door. The furniture was custom, and therefore non-returnable.

On to Plan B: hiring a contractor to remove and enlarge the existing front door so the sectional will fit. Our valiant DIYers are now out hundreds of dollars in paint and thousands of dollars in custom furniture that they will be stubbing their toes on for the next 20 years, not to mention the front door that they now need to replace.

Now let’s run through the same scenario had the Smiths hired a professional; we’ll call her Katie. Katie first consults with the Smiths to understand their style, get a feel for the space, take measurements, discuss colors and textures and, most importantly, discuss how they use the space. Is it for watching TV or entertaining or a little bit of both? Does this room get a lot of use by kids and the family dog?

Armed with knowledge, Katie finds the perfect shade of gray paint which perfectly complements both the natural and ambient lighting in the room. She then procures just the right furniture set (confident that it will fit through the front door because she measured that too). With the money left in the budget, Katie curates just the right accessories to round out the space.

While the Smiths did have to pay an additional fee for the services of a designer, they were then able to purchase designer items that they wouldn’t have been able to find at a retailer and save the time, money, and frustration of doing it themselves.

Reason #2 – A Professional Designer Will Save You Time

Life is hectic. Free time shouldn’t be spent staring at walls (painted with color samples). Most people, given the choice, would much rather head to the beach than wander the aisles of Home Depot looking for the perfect paint color, or scouring the shelves of Home Goods looking for just the right accessories to style a mantel, coffee table, and bookshelves.

By hiring an interior designer, you are freeing yourself from the shackles of your home improvement project. An interior designer is your personal project manager, with lots of creative ideas and design skills. They know exactly where and how to source items, have relationships with skilled laborers and installers, can quickly build a team of experts, and can anticipate any obstacles that may arise. No brainer, right?

Reason #3 – A Professional Designer Will Give You Real Insights

A project partner should be willing to offer a fresh pair of eyes on your space and take into account what works for you as opposed to their personal taste. We have all been there when we try to DIY and end up asking friends or family for input. And we all know how that ends up when your well meaning sister-in-law tells you that the fabric you spent hours choosing looks a bit “too loud.” A designer can help avoid ‘design by committee’ and give you confidence in choosing items that fit your style.

With experience comes knowledge. Your designer should be experienced enough to know the most common renovation mistakes and how to avoid them. If a granite countertop is not in the budget, the designer can suggest comparable budget-friendly options that will give you a similar look. If kids and pets are in the mix, a designer can focus on items that will withstand some abuse but still feel stylish. Setting realistic expectations within budget limitations is the cornerstone of being a professional designer.

Reason #4 – A Professional Designer Will Give You the Wow

A professional designer knows how to incorporate textures, colors, lighting, and accessories that will bring the WOW factor. Knowing how to tie a room together is truly an art. The average homeowner may be able to paint walls and purchase furniture but falls short when it comes to tying it all together. I call this final layer of design, “styling” a room.

A styled room showcases the designer’s touch and highlights the homeowner’s personality. A curated assembly of high-quality pieces to accentuate a fireplace mantle, a selection of accessories to adorn the coffee table, or a flight of pillows to make that new couch pop are what bring that extra something. A good interior designer can tie everything together, seamlessly.

Reason #5 – A Professional Designer Has Resources

As a professional designer, I have spent my career building a vendor resource library to ensure that my clients get the best quality at the best price. I steer clear of big box stores because, let’s face it, anyone can go to a home store and purchase the same off-the-shelf item that thousands of others have. My goal is for my clients’ homes to have unique items that can’t be found at major retailers.

My database of tried and true vendors contain manufacturers who make the best furniture, unique and stylish rugs, as well as accessory vendors. I have done the legwork to find the best so your home looks beautifully curated and you can enjoy the process of working with someone to style it to make it your home. Please reach out when planning your next design project to see how I can save you time and money.

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