Do I Need a Designer for My Renovation?


do I need a designer?


If you watch HGTV or read design magazines you may have been led to believe that it’s impossible to complete any kind of home renovation or decorating project without a designer. A designer definitely brings insight that can be invaluable and will save you hours of frustration along with cost savings. Once a project is underway it moves quickly. The questions will come at you rapid fire and can be extremely overwhelming for a homeowner going solo so a designer is a huge asset. That being said, it’s possible to manage a project on your own and just have a designer consult with you as technical guidance.


One of the main reasons people don’t hire a designer is because they think they’ll be coerced into agreeing with the designer’s vision and their opinions will be invalidated. It’s reasonable that you would have that fear but nothing is further from the truth. A designer brings technical expertise as well as the ability to create a vision based on YOUR desires, lifestyle, budget, etc. A designer doesn’t bring their preferences to the work. Instead they evaluate your space and create a vision that will be unique to you.


What Can I Manage on My Own?

do I need a designer?

SOURCE: Veronica Solomon


There are aspects of every project that excite a client and where you may feel you have strengths. Consider what your strengths are before the project begins and agree to tackle those areas. You’ll never be excluded from participating in your own project but it does make sense to have these conversations with your contractor and designer early on. Establishing an understanding of the role you’ll take should be determined early on in the process.


Conversely, recognize which areas you may need help and don’t take on aspects of the project that feel overwhelming or areas that you genuinely don’t enjoy. I guarantee, you’ll become overwhelmed if it’s something you don’t like. So what aspects of a design project can a qualified homeowner tackle on their own?


How To Get Involved In Your Project


BUDGETING & BOOKKEEPING – if you’re great with numbers and enjoy spreadsheets you can take on all aspects of budgeting. Your designer will need to know this early so they aren’t duplicating your efforts and charging you for the time.


MATERIALS MANAGEMENT – there’s a lot of work involved in keeping track of product eta’s and timelines. This can include price changes, delays and cancellations in products. If this doesn’t feel daunting you could take this on and be part of the day-to-day operations. 


SITE MANAGEMENT – A really important aspect of the project is being present on the job site and tackling the daily issues that arise. You will act as the point person to answer questions quickly (immediately sometimes). You’ll also be putting out fires and looking for incomplete or deficient work. 


If you’re accustomed to being in a managerial position this could be exciting for you. Make sure you have communicated to your trades that you need time to consider questions that arise. While a designer has experience and can quickly answer technical questions you may need to do some research before answering. 


An important part of this role is timeliness. If you have a full time job and kids to shuttle around, you’ll lose a lot of valuable job site time and this could cost you more money in delays in the long run so consider carefully before taking on this role.

What Aspects Require a Designer?


do I need a designer?

SOURCE: French Fancy


There are some areas that I would recommend never tackling on your own, particularly in a renovation project. These are areas that can cause delays or cost money if answers are not available.


FLOOR PLANS AND LAYOUTS – unless you have the skills and a computer program to make digital drawings and changes as required, leave this to your designer. Plans with errors or missing elements can be extremely costly and set a project back by weeks or months.


KITCHEN AND BATH DESIGN – there’s not a lot of creative work involved in these rooms. It’s extremely technical and you need someone skilled at determining how to maximize the space. While it’s possible to be a part of the sourcing for these rooms, leave the strategic aspects to your designer.


MATERIALS SELECTIONS – Your designer will present ideas to you as a whole as opposed to one material at a time. When excited homeowners start sourcing on their own, they sometimes make purchases that are not cohesive to the overall design. This can cost money and time so keep your input for the presentation where you’ll always have a say. You can also request to go shopping with your designer so you’re part of the initial process of selecting materials.


ELECTRICAL PLANNING – your electrician may assure you that he/she can handle the design of the electrical plan but there’s a reason to consider involving your designer. We consider the way you live in your space and will take into account additional lighting in the seating areas as well as ensure that ceiling fixtures are centred above tables, etc. 


Additionally, when switches are being installed we understand that you want a path of light from your main floor up to your bedroom and that switches need to be installed to accommodate this. We all love to work harmoniously with our trades but they don’t always consider the way homeowners will live each day in the new space.



How Designer By Your Side Services Can Help You

do I need a designer?


One of the more recent services being introduced by designers is Designer By Your Side. I offer this service and have seen people manage a big chunk of their project alone while feeling more confident having me on standby.


This service allows my clients to access me for 20 hours for whatever aspect of the project is challenging for them. Here are a few of the ways I can help:


  1. Guidance for kitchen and bathroom design
  2. Hard surface selection assistance, such as flooring, backsplash,and countertops
  3. Floor plans and space planning
  4. Design Concepts for spaces that include furniture selection, fabric selection, furniture layout, custom draperies, artwork and paint colours
  5. 3D Renderings
  6. Email or phone assistance when questions arise
  7. Liaise with contractors, builders and vendors
  8. Exterior Selections


There’s a lot to consider when you’re taking on a renovation or even a redecorating project. If you’re unsure of the direction you’d like to take, contact me to set up a phone call to discuss.



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