Norma Williams


Interior Design 101

In 20 years of business, this is one of the most common questions I receive. Who needs an interior designer and why?Let me give you a perfect example of how designing works.


Let’s say you are finally ready for that perfect kitchen. You have 3 reputable general contractors (GCs) come to the house and view your plan. You talk briefly about budget and more about design. What kind of cabinets you want, walls taken down and a pretty new island with storage. You might even provide a couple of pictures for review.

Your 3 contractors come back a week later and you are surprised to find the estimates were much different, in price and scope, than you expected; ranging from $40,000 to $90,000. You think the latter must be out of touch. Not so fast! Your $40,000 contractor has $40,000 kitchen experience. They are going to give you the same cabinets, backsplash and appliances they give other clients in that range. And the $90,000 GC is in a different league. He works with experts in each field. And he will definitely work with an interior designer. But he might work with an interior designer who designs similar high end finishes in each house. In other words, the designer works for him and not you.

Insert Interior Designer

Design is all about line-items. There is no room this is truer in than the kitchen. Line items are decisions that have to be made regarding every aspect of your design. Cabinet layout, color, door design, interior positioning, and quality should have been made before the GC ever visited your house. But because you were not equipped to make those decisions, he made them for you based on his years of experience.

Your interior designer (me!) would ask questions first. And a really great designer is going to give you homework before she even comes through the door. For example, I have each of my clients create a Pinterest board of kitchens. I ask for no more than 12 photos. I view the photos prior to visit one and can assess pretty quickly what your overall design style is. Questions I might have after can more easily be answered at our first meeting. Once in your space, we talk about the realities of your budget and what you can expect financially. And if you are finally ready to move forward, we start with the design. Back to those line-items, we start with an inspiration and build the entire space around it. Once all of the items have been approved by you (cabinets, flooring, electrical, lighting, plumbing, appliances, etc.,) the Designer creates a RFP (Request for Proposal). The proposal goes to the 3 reputable contractors and now they can return an apples to apples estimation based on all of your decisions. Together, the Interior Designer, GC and You make an awesome team leaving you understood and protected.

outdated kitchen with black marble counters and medium wood tone cabinets


kitchen design mock up, rendering, 3d,


Joyful after. The client is able to bake her heart away!


The Power of Sketch-UP

One of the most delightful benefits of designing is the rendering process. In the case of the kitchen above, we needed to rework the pantry and refrigerator. We also needed to widen the island and elongate it. Creating a 6 foot cabinet, (encasing the large refrigerator) on the left allowed us to also enlarge the island without it looking like it was floating without cabinets are each side to anchor it. This client is a prolific baker and needed space for daily prep and work. We gave her that and more.

Without the software to create and recreate renderings of your space, you can’t truly fathom whether the ideas in your head make sense on paper; and ultimately in real life. This software offers rendering in scale making the information filtered to the GCs much easier to follow. These services are not something you are going to find with a GC because these are design services. A GC’s job is to create and manage the construction schedule. He (or she!) is going to manage the job site and hire all of the subcontractors. He is also responsible for licensing and making sure all material is on site.

There are always compromises that are made along the way but that is with every job. Collaboration is key. We each have our part to do. And when we do it well, we end up with a beautiful and functional space that brings JOY to the client for years and years to come.







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