The Home Design School
October 18, 2016

What I Learned From Hiring Two Interior Designers (It's not what you might think!)

To me, having a beautiful home environment is really important. I mean like super important. As in (friends and family aside) it’s one of the most important things in my life. I know that’s probably a strange concept for some people to understand, but I also think that some of you reading this will feel the same way too. My home is my sanctuary, and the way it looks and feels is right up there on my list of priorities. 

It’s not about having other people’s approval of it (although it’s always nice when people comment on how lovely my home is) and it’s certainly not about showing off. It’s just that, if things don’t look right, I don’t feel comfortable in my own space. Does that make sense? It’s a bit like if you have a picture that’s hung up a bit wonky, it keeps catching your eye and bothering you until you go and straighten it. Well I get that sensation if colours clash, or if the style of a piece of furniture isn’t appealing to me, or if something is missing from a space.  

It’s also a reflection of me, of my unique personality. My home is a reflection of my identity and an expression of my taste. It showcases who am I, and what matters to me most. That’s a bit deep for a few cushions and a dab of paint, huh?

So, because of this, you might think that I’ve always had a lovely home, and that I’ve always been able to create a perfect little sanctuary for myself wherever I’ve been. Well no, actually that’s not the case. If you’ve read the About page on my website, you’ll know that I spent many a frustrating year trying to decorate my dream home and not getting very far. 

Whilst I’ve always been able to identify what I don’t like about a room, and whilst I’ve been able to point out in magazines and on Pinterest what I do like, actually making it happen in my own home was something that used to baffle me. I just couldn’t seem to get it right.

So a few years ago, I hired an interior designer to ask for some advice. I had a day’s consultation with the designer, and she came to my home and looked around and we talked about the “space”. I didn’t really know what I wanted and I was really vague in giving her any direction. She was very patient with me (!) and she suggested a few things she could source. We talked about including some vintage items (her practice was attached to a reclamation yard) which sounded lovely. All well and good. But after she’d gone, I started to bring in some of her suggestions, and it just didn’t well… feel right. I wasn’t sure where to put things. I didn’t know in which proportions to use the fabrics and paint colours we had discussed. Again, something was missing, but I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know how to bring it all together.

And so, what did I do? I hired another interior designer! Crazy, huh? I reasoned that perhaps the first one just hadn’t been on my wavelength or she hadn’t interpreted my ideas well (or something). So along comes designer two. Now this one got my style down to a tee. Most of you will know that I like clean, fresh modern country style with classic elements (although I’m not sure I could have articulated it this clearly at the time). No fuss. No frills. Well she got this, and suggested furniture, fabrics and accessories that I would love and we talked about how to make it happen. She even went away and made me a mood board with some beautiful images and fabric samples.

The problem this time? When my husband came home, he didn’t like the designs! Huh?! The designer had suggested that we paint the kitchen units, and he was like, “No way!” because he thought it would chip and damage. He hated the chandelier she had suggested, and he was horrified that the chairs he had chosen for the dining room would have to go, because he loved them. Now, I like to think that we’re both quite reasonable people, and the fact that he hated the design meant that I wasn’t just going to force it upon him. I mean it’s his home too, right?

So, as frustrated as I was, I went back to the drawing board (if you’ll excuse the pun) and began to learn all about how to design my home the way I wanted, but also the way that it suited my family too. It wasn’t the designers’ fault that it didn’t work for us. It’s just that, your own home is something very unique and personal to you and the way that you live, and there’s no real way that someone else can get under your skin and understand how your family lives better than, well, you!

Interior Designer

To tell you another quick story, I have a friend, Anna, who hired an interior designer to design, source and decorate her whole family living room from scratch. What a luxury, huh? You’d think she would be delighted with the results, right? But actually, Anna ended up hating the room so much that she redecorated it herself within 3 months! So what had the designer done wrong? Nothing! It was just that my friend didn’t feel as though she owned the space. It wasn’t her brain child, and she never really felt comfortable there. It was someone else’s vision, a reflection of someone else’s personality. As lovely as it was, it just wasn’t “her”, and she could never truly connect with the space.

So am I on an anti- designer rampage? Do I think that interior designers are a waste of time? Well, yes and no. Here’s what I learned from hiring two interior designers:

  1. You, and only you, have a better insight about what you like and dislike for your home, way better than any interior designer can glimpse in a short time spent with you.
  2. When you design your own home, you feel as though it is your own space, your own sanctuary. When you design it, you own it.
  3. No-one has a better idea of what works for you and your family than you. When designing your home decor you need to bring your partner on board and work at it together.
  4. When you design your own home, you can add pieces as you go along and make the process organic rather than forced.

I really do think that the best person to design their own home is YOU! So, be brave. Get inspiration, gather ideas, educate yourself in the know-how (just as I did) and away you go! Don’t forget to check out my courses if know-how is your issue, or read through the blog for tips and ideas. 

Happy Decorating!

Until next time x

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