Turn on the TV these days and channel-hopping will likely land you on a home renovation program full of design inputs.
But you have the likes of Kevin McCloud, whose every word we hang has made the public more inclined to involve a design professional on a project, or do we still think that money should go into the fancy kitchen and the dazzling lighting. Saw in a magazine?
says David O’Brien, interior designer at RJ O’Brien Building Contractors and finalist at RTÉ’s public house 2021.
“I feel like people are also worried that interior designers will impose and taste their ideas,” he says. “Remember that the role of the interior designer is to listen carefully to you, the client, and help you translate your ideas into a cohesive design.”
But he also stresses that hiring a designer saves money in the long run.
“It might be too easy to go off during a renovation or build and spend a fortune on items that wouldn’t really make any impact,” he says, citing fancy plugs and accent lights that serve no purpose.
But the first problem he sees is the lack of flow and continuity, which can be, he says, “too many different types of flooring ending abruptly in every room, compromising the overall sense of flow throughout the house.”
And sometimes there are missed opportunities that the design eye will immediately notice, such as “…not taking full advantage of the side of the room or the connections and views in their garden,” adds David. “It can be hard to visualize regeneration when you are in the middle of it. Sometimes, it only takes new, experienced eyes to see hidden potential.”
Something he is also aware of is the impact of diligent decision making on the client.
“Decision fatigue is real,” he says, “especially in the middle of a project when contractors ask you to choose radiators, sockets, light switches, and ledges. Having an interior designer on board means these decisions are made early on, removing stress and meaning no decision has been made. Quick to regret after that.”
When it comes to the finishing touch and adding the top layer of design, David says, “The devil is in the details and many people struggle to bring the finished look together. An interior designer will help you bring texture, warmth, and a sense of style to your new space.”
“Hiring an architect can be prohibitive for a smaller job,” says Lucy Jones, an architect at Antipas Jones in Dublin. “An architect’s fee can be around 10% which seems like a lot, but because the design and construction are complex, professional advice And good design is so valuable. It can be hard to see that when allocating costs from the start.”
But there are things that can go wrong without an architect, including poor design where the end result isn’t what you hoped for, according to Lucy. “This could be because the strategy was wrong, or you didn’t mention the details or specify correctly, or the builders were poor,” she says, “that’s hard to fix and can be really disappointing.” Compliance is another issue, including building regulations, planning legislation and health and safety codes that an engineer can help you navigate.
“It can be difficult to understand these regulations if you don’t have professional help,” she explains. “And if I get something wrong, the implications can range from difficult to obtain compliance documents that will hinder the sale or lease of a property, to serious legal repercussions.
“If you are planning a project, you need to put everything down on paper early with a price tag and compare it to your brief and budget,” says Lucy. “If either is exceeded on site, it can be very cumbersome and difficult to solve.”
To start, she suggests buying an hour out of two hours of the architect’s time to explain what’s involved. “This can help you make informed decisions and plan your next steps,” she says. “Architecture can be wonderful and there are some great events that illustrate this. Check out the Architecture Diary platform What is Out: Diaries of Architecture in Ireland.
“Knowing more about the topic may help you understand the value that an architect can bring.”