Friday, November 9, 2012

(Editors Note: The following is an excerpt from my new book Raising the Roof! A Homebuilder's Secrets to Saving Time and Money. So often homeowners take a "Ready, Fire, Aim" approach to the building process. Raising the Roof! attempts to re-orient the process so most of the planning occurs upfront, before leaving the architect's office. This piece is a snippet from the section dealing with the third of the team members, the interior designer. 

Sizzle – The Interior Designers
Some interior designers absolutely drip with style and vision for what is truly beautiful, but can’t quite offer the kind of information the contractor needs to actually get the vision built. There’s an enormous difference between seeing and understanding beauty, and knowing how to deliver it to the client.

It should be as simple as following the American Society of Interior Designers or ASID professional designation. Anyone with an ASID behind their name should really know their stuff, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Just like the AIA (American Institute of Architect) designation behind an architect’s name, all the designation really means is they have advanced schooling in their craft and have interned with another designer before being allowed ot sit for ASID testing.

But ASID doesn’t always buy “taste” or “vision.” In fact, some of the best interior designers aren’t ASID. In the construction industry, when it comes to interior designers it’s apparent that “you either got it, or you don’t.”

All the fancy showrooms down in the Design District of Dallas have a wonderful little sign on their door that says, “To The Trade Only.” The vendors started putting the sign on the front of their shops to try and wave off everyone who thought they knew something about design and wanted wholesale pricing. Years ago the interior design business was “the wild west” before the Design District’s rules concerning showroom accessibility were instituted.

Talent + Information = Success
What a contractor needs most from the design process is talent and information. Interior designers must be able to communicate with the contractor (in plain and simple terms), so surprises are minimized. 

A truly effective interior designer starts his/her work immediately after joining the Project Team. Shortly after the conceptual drawings are released to the owner and the team, an interior designer should start by roughly positioning the client’s furnishings on the plans. Normally, conceptual plans are drawn at 1/8” =  1’ 0”, so it’s hard to properly scale furnishings on plans that size. The inventory of furnishings should come shortly after the interior designer is hired. Surveying what furnishings will and will not be used in the new home or re-model will provide an inventory necessary throughout the job. Without the initial furniture layout on the conceptual plans, it’s conceivable that rooms will be designed that either don’t accommodate furnishings comfortably or at all.