How to Choose an Interior Designer

When talking about the renovations of our new home, the most asked question has been, ‘How did you choose an interior designer.’ In today’s post I am going to walk you through exactly why we choose Kelly Flynn from Studio Shelter to be our designer and also give you a little update on where we are at in the process.

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How to Choose an Interior Designer

Why get an Interior Designer?

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why you should hire an interior designer on themilleraffect.com

Are you building a home, moving into a new home, or do you just want to make some updates to your current home? If so, I would recommend getting an interior designer. Why? With the shortages going on in the world, the lack of manpower, the manufacture delays, etc, having an interior designer can save you tons of time and stress.

I also do not have much design experience at all and wouldn’t say I have ‘an eye for it’. If something is going to be done in this house I want it done beautifully and I want it done right, so I am putting my trust in someone else to have it done for me. If you are the kind of person who loves a project and likes to have total control, a designer may not be for you.

Designers, like Kelly, can help you whether you have a huge project, like a new build, or a small project, like designing your living room furniture.

What do we have her doing for us?

*listing photos from the seller’s realtor

Here are the lists of items we would like done in our hours in order of importance (some of the items at the end of list may not even be done until 2022.

  • Total kitchen redesign. We are ripping up everything in the current kitchen and building a brand new, dream kitchen! I am so excited.
  • Wood flooring. We need to pull the carpet from the living room and office and add wood flooring. Then, we will sand down all wood floors and put a light stain on it.
  • Staircases. We have two stair cases leading up to the second floor. One is in the entry way and the other is in the living room. We need to pull the carpet from both and add a pretty runner. We also need to sand down the wood on the staircase to match the wood floors and we need to update the bannisters (they are also wood but very traditional). We want to give them a more modern vibe.
  • Level arches. We have a few arches in the home that are a bit outdated. One is between formal living/dining and the other is between the kitchen and living room. We are going to make both of these entries square rather than curved which will also open up each area more!
  • Fireplace. We will use dry wall to fill in the space above the fireplace and then we are going to paint that black and have it paneled. We are also going to paint the current fireplace white.
  • Guest and kid’s bath. Both of these are extremely outdated and both need to be completely remodeled.
  • Blinds. We need all new blinds/shutters throughout the house.
  • Basement. We have big plans for the basement. We would like to build out a bar down there and we would also love to eventually create another bedroom and add a shower to the bathroom.
  • Main bedroom- we would eventually love to panel the wall behind the bed!

Kelly is also designing the furniture and layout of living room, kitchen, and main bedroom for us. She will also be ordering all of the furniture and will be managing all of the shipping/lead times as well.

How did we find her?

OK, now we can finally talk about how to choose an interior designer.

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Kelly Flynn, Studio Shelter

#1-Word of Mouth. I 100% always rely on word of mouth first before anything else. If other people used them and had a great experience, then that is what you should count on as well. I took to Instagram and asked my readers if they had recommendations for a Denver designer and Kelly from Studio Shelter was mentioned multiple times. Then, I checked her work. You can always ask on Facebook, Instagram, Next Door App, etc.

#2-Style. The interior designer you choose needs to have a similar style to what you are looking for. After you receive some recommendations, head to their website and/or Instagram page and take a look at their work. Does it align with your style? This is so important because if you have opposite styles the project could take so much longer (more $$) and you both may not be completely satisfied in the end.

#3-Availability. Great, you got a glowing recommendation and your styles match, now what? Check their availability. I called another designer that has an office closer to home but they couldn’t even pick up the project until Feb 2022. Kelly was available within a few weeks. It made the decision so much easier for me. You really need to get started as early as possible on your project due to all of the current delays.

#4- Cost. Most designers charge around the same in each area, but not all. Ask for payment structure early on so you don’t get too excited or too deep into the initial project before getting hit was a large bill. Definitely shop around and pick a designer that has all of the above but also fits within your budget. That leads me to the next section…

#5 Compatibility- This is someone you are going to be around for A LONG TIME. Make sure you get along and can see yourself liking this person for a long time. I knew I wanted to hire Kelly when she shared her charity mission with me. The name of her firm is called Studio Shelter because their mission is to provide shelter for the homeless.

Another thing I love about Kelly- she always shows you a few options. A couple of them will be what ‘everyone else is doing’, but then she will have one that is elevated, different, and what she thinks will be very popular in the future. Some are hits and some are misses but I love that she thinks out of the box and has this cool, elevated style. The appliance guy we used says Kelly always knows the trends before they are trends!

What are the costs?

It is definitely not cheap to hire an interior designer. My best friend in Texas is a designer, Myranda Alya Designs, so luckily I already knew what I was in for.

If you know you want to use a designer on a home you are building or a home you are buying, it needs to be budgeted in immediately. Troy and I had a total budget for the home we were buying so we had to factor in the cost of work that needed to be done in each home. For instance, if our budget was 500k and we saw a home for 450k that needed 100k in work then it was out of our budget. If we saw a home for 400k, but it was going to take 100k to make it exactly how we wanted it, then it was perfect and in budget.

I recommend doing it this way because you could buy a house at the top of your budget that needs work and it could take years and years to budget for the renovations and possibly never get done. You could also be living through renovation projects the entire time you live there and then poof, it is time to move again.

In terms of costs, most designers charge an hourly rate anywhere between $150-$250 an hour. You should expect to take the total cost of the work you are having done and add 25-30% on to that for the designer fees. Most designers also take a payment upfront to get started and then will start billing you once that upfront payment has been chewed through.

Again, it is not cheap but it is totally worth it to me and I know we will make the money back when we sell the house in the future. Also, I just don’t have the time to do it myself with a full-time job and two kids and I know so many of you are in the same boat!

Luckily, Studio Shelter charges a very fair fee, especially since she is considered a luxury designer! I highly recommend checking her out.

Project Update

Whew, I wish I had more to share on this front, but I will try to keep you updated every couple of weeks or so (or when anything big happens.)

1.We ordered our appliances for the kitchen! And thank GOODNESS. Lead time on appliances when we ordered at the beginning of OCT was 6 months. Our appliances are expecting to arrive in March but Kelly says to expect them closer to April. Yikes. That pushes everything else back of course because we can’t do the kitchen renovation until we know our appliances are about to arrive. We don’t want to have to go without them for long. It also really stinks because the current appliances aren’t great at all. The gas burner is definitely on it’s last leg and the fridge is very small. The microwave needs more cooking time than instructions say. But the oven and dishwasher both work fine thankfully. Here’s a look at what we ordered from JennAir:

*We also ordered a JennAir dishwasher and a beverage/wine fridge. The dishwasher and main fridge will both be paneled to blend in with the cabinets.

2.We had our initial meeting to share the kitchen design. We will actually be selling the renderings once we have the final design, so if you love the final project you could buy them to use in your own home!

3.We had our initial meeting for the living room, kitchen, and bedroom design. I will be sharing these on Instagram Stories and saving them to the HOME highlight if you want to go back and look at them. During the meeting I pointed out what I loved and didn’t love about the design, furniture pieces, etc. Kelly will scrap what I didn’t like and find me more options for the items that I liked at different price points.

Coming Next:

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intial designs for tmahome

Hoping all of the items below happen in the next week or two:

-We will be meeting with the cabinet brand we are using to go over everything. This includes each and every cabinet throughout the kitchen (how deep or shallow, drawer or cabinet, where we want silverware to go, etc.) And then we will get them ordered!

-Kelly is bringing some contractors out to get bids on the different projects we have going on in the house so she can include these in our budget. This includes the staircase, flooring, drywall projects, and the kitchen.

-Kelly is going to send us a spreadsheet for furniture to choose from for each room. She has the ability to get 50% off most furniture and then adds a designer fee on top of it for doing the ordering. She can also see the stock of everything so we can pick and choose based on availability as well.

-Kelly and her team are drawing up a budget that includes renovation AND furniture costs. We will look over it and approve or say we can go higher or need to go lower and she will make the furniture and design changes based on that.

Thank you so much for following along! I will give you another update once the above mentioned items are completed. In the meantime, you can keep up with everything in real-time on my Instagram Stories.

xo Amanda

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