As a Designing your home can feel like an impossible task. You may have a vision of where you want to end up, but the process to get there is what you struggle with. Guess what? You’re not alone! Many people desire to see the home of their dreams come to life, but they’re just not sure where to start. That’s where I come in.

I’ve worked as an interior designer in Southampton for over 20 years now, and I walk each of my clients through this daunting process. Many of them are working with a designer for the first time in their lives. So I thought I’d write a post on my process for working with clients, the benefits of hiring an interior designer, and how I use sustainable materials in my design.

I hope you find this information useful as you embark on your own design journey!

The Benefits of Hiring An Interior Designer

Working with a designer provides numerous benefits to any project you might be taking on.

Here are just a few:

  1. Oversight from beginning to end.  An interior designer creates design plans that lead to your vision, and can coordinate with contractors to do what needs to be done, working to solve anything that might pop up along the way. They often act as a "the translator"— and they will communicate with tradespeople and others involved on the project so decisions can be made with foresight and in a timely manner so your project can keep moving.
  2. An extensive network of skilled tradespeople. Interior designers have worked hard over their career to connect and build relationships with general contractors, tile installers, electricians, and other insured, vetted tradespeople. This saves you the hassle of finding just the right people for your project! I love the wonderful relationships I have with the professionals here on the East End.
  3. Access to more design resources at better prices. Not all furniture, textiles, and finishes are available to the general public — and if they are, prices are often higher. Working with an interior designer ensures you have access to a wide range of choices and can often save you time and money.
  4. Keep the timeline and budget on track. Working with a professional designer helps to ensure accurate budget and timelines. Designers can better estimate costs, timelines, and potential problems with both since they have extensive experience managing projects.
  5. The custom home of your dreams! Designers can take your vision and your dream and transform it into reality. This is often the hardest part for homeowners, and designers handle it all. From sourcing the exact shade of paint to the perfect textile to bringing it all together, you can be assured that your home is uniquely you.

So now you have an idea of just how beneficial it is to work with an interior designer! But what are the steps involved to get started working with a designer? Let’s go over my unique process.

My Design Process

I strive to make the design process as worry-free as possible for you from start to finish. As a result, many of my clients who’ve worked with designers in the past have told me how easy and organized my process was compared to their prior experiences. 

I truly care about your home and your time — and want both of us to have a clear and detailed plan. This helps avoid problems that can come up midway through the project!

Here’s what you can expect when you work with me:

  1. Discovery. We schedule a phone call to get to know each other. Or, you can book a design chat, for us to meet via Zoom. I learn about your design needs, including how you want the space to look, feel, and function when the project is complete. We discuss budget, and timing and together we determine which design service fits best. If we're a good fit, you'll receive our Letter of Agreement, and my team and I will dive into designing.
  2. Design.  This process takes a while as we prepare space plans and work on sourcing the best options for all of the materials required for your project. I’ll put together samples, digital mood boards, and renderings (as needed) of your vision. 
  3. Present. This is where you’ll start to see your vision come to life! We review the design concept with you. We discuss any changes needed, and once you sign off on the final plan execution begins.
  4. Execution. During the project, we manage the project by communicating with contractors, ensuring progress is being made, and ensuring plans are going as scheduled. Through this all we provide you with updates weekly so you can relax, and we can minimize surprises. 
  5. Styling, While we love the idea if "the big reveal", this is typically scheduled in one to three phases based on lead-times, after any contracting projects are finished and the house is thoroughly cleaned. We’ll ensure correct placement of furniture and rugs in each room, install window treatments, etc.
  6. Review. We tour your home together and go over any additional details. Often we'll continue with additional accessories to really help it feel like home.

Many of my clients ask about timelines for completing projects. The answer is — it depends! A large project may take 9 months or more to complete, because of factors such as scheduling contractors, furniture lead times, and time needed for unexpected hiccups. My clients generally all agree, though, that having the coastal retreat of their dreams is worth any wait.

Sustainable Interior Design: A Unique Benefit for You

To me creating a sustainable environment in your home means creating a space that sustains YOU! That means working with you to understand how you and your family live and helping you to create a home that allows you to relax and rejuvenate so that you can maintain your well-being. In my design practice, I also offer the additional benefit of sourcing sustainably made products. You won’t find this benefit with every interior designer. However, I have learned in my training with the Sustainable Furnishings Council, that there is an abundance of options in almost every budget and style to choose from.

I’ve developed strong relationships over the years with companies providing fair trade, hand-crafted, and non-toxic furniture, paint, and other eco-friendly products and bring these resources to you in the design process. It’s important to me to use furnishings that are well-made and healthy for you, your family, and the planet whenever I can. We always  share our knowledge so you can make the decision that's best for you and your  family.

I may also discover that your existing furniture can be repurposed, and maybe an ottoman has good bones, for example. We can cover it in a new fabric to fit your current aesthetic. We’ll walk through this process together — perhaps you have sentimental items that you’d like to incorporate into your new home. With a few updates, it’s entirely possible!
I hope you’ve found this guide to working with an interior designer helpful! If you’re ready to create the coastal retreat of your dreams, why not book a design chat with me today? I’d love to turn your dreams into reality.

March 05, 2024 — Shannon Willey