Should you hire an interior designer?

Melanie Whitehouse / 11 March 2016

Do you need help making the most of your home? We ask the experts why they recommend using an interior designer.



Redesigning and redecorating your home isn’t easy and getting it right, with such an abundance of paint colours, fabrics, furniture and accessories to choose from, is a challenge. 

In the States, it has long been the norm to hire an interior designer to do the leg work but here in the UK we’ve always been pretty resistant to that idea. However, times are changing and an increasing number of high street names are offering interior design visits or colour consultations as part of their service.

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What does an interior designer do?

An interior designer will redesign and decorate your home, taking into account what the space is used for and how to best use it. (An interior decorator will only decorate.)

On her property website Tepilo, TV’s Sarah Beeney says: ‘Enlisting the help of an interior designer can be a fulfilling and inspirational journey that can save you money, time and headache. An interior designer is a professional who deals with the space, layout, architectural elements, project management, construction management, lighting plans, specifications, furniture and soft furnishings on a budget and within a time frame.

‘From simple schemes requiring the most modest of furniture layouts to the most complex and extensive projects, form one room to a whole house, a professional interior designer is a cost-effective necessity.’

Find out how to brighten up a dark room

How much will it cost me?

The cost of hiring an interior designer varies greatly. The British Institute of Interior Designers says there are no standard fee scales and fees reflect the experience of the designer, the amount of bespoke work the project requires, the location of the designer and the type of project being undertaken. Fees may be calculated on an hourly basis, or as a percentage of the cost of the work, or as a lump sum.

Sarah Beeney says that a good interior designer will bring with them a wealth of resources and knowledge and can usually get a client amazing discounts on furniture and materials as well as services. ‘For me, it’s about being practical and working within tight budgets… Because of my knowledge and experience, I can save a huge amount of money for my clients.’

She adds: ‘Ensure your interior designer is qualified - diploma or university degree is best - and also that they have a portfolio to show you as well as Professional Indemnity and Professional Liability [insurance].’

Find out how to make the most of your space

Who should I choose?

More and more high street ‘names’ are offering a consultancy service of one kind or another.

Farrow & Ball has a colour consultant that comes to your home to discuss your decorating plans, favourite colours and ideas and assess the space, light and architecture of your room, for £195 per hour. You get a written specification with recommended colour schemes, wallpaper designs and finishes plus a £50 voucher to spend on Farrow & Ball paint and wallpaper. See www.farrow-ball.com or ring 01202 876141.

John Lewis’s home design advisors offer anything from a complete redesign to a seasonal update of one room, working closely with you to create something that's both practical and unique. Either book a free in-store appointment, or opt for a more thorough home consultation for £250 (redeemable against made to order purchases). www.johnlewis.com.

Laura Ashley’s design service begins with a home consultation with an interior designer, who’ll bring swatches, catalogues and sample books, all for a very reasonable £100 for two rooms and £200 for larger projects. Within a week or so you’ll get a mood board and detailed estimate. Call 0333 202 1197 or see www.lauraashley.com.

The British Institute of Interior Design will put you in touch with an accredited interior designer. Go to biid.org.uk/find-a-designer to find one in your area that suits your project and your budget.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.