Why hire an interior designer?

This is a kitchen renovation I did a couple of years ago together with design professional BVH Design in the Comox Valley (now Codesign Lifestyle Interiors in Canmore). The vision in this project was superb and inspired me to share my opinion on why to hire a designer.

WHY HIRE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?

Shiny new things in your home are always nice BUT incredible design doesn’t happen by chance! Truly great spaces are always explored, planned and curated. If you are planning a renovation and aren’t sure where to begin, a meeting over coffee with an interior professional can get you on to a sure track to a successful outcome that you will love to live in, (or bring more revenue to your vacation rental suite.)

Where to start? Many designers have a unique style. Research local interior professionals and take a look at their online portfolios. Find one who resonates with you before you pick up the phone. Read reviews and go with your gut. Most will be happy to have an initial meeting over coffee or tea even before seeing your space: it’s important to feel comfortable with them and to establish good communication. Talk about your needs and expectations and establish a process.

Here are some good reasons to start with a professional.

HAVING A PLAN

The first and most obvious benefit of having a professional design your space is simply having a place to start. Having no plan will inevitably cost more because disorganization is expensive. A plan is the starting point for a budget, saves a lot of time and saves the client a lot of headache. A good designer will be able to point out how to get the best value for your money, where to spend and where not to spend.

LIAISON

Designers come with reliable connections, making it easier for the client to find an electrician, plumber and/or contractor you can trust. Good communication can also ensure that details like placement of lighting and locations of outlets so they don’t interfere with furniture layout or cabinetry don’t get missed, among a myriad of other things.

RESOURCES

Interior consultants & design professionals have access to hardware, lighting, furniture, fabrics and other products outside of your local big box retailer that typically aren’t visible to the general public. This is a resource that will create a space that looks collected and unique, giving it that WOW factor.

VISION

Most of all, interior professionals have the ability to think outside the box. They see the big picture and consider things that most of us often can’t visualize. From colour palette and material choices to reorganizing floor plans, a pro will bring forward a cohesive space that really works and looks amazing as well.

Origins of a cabinetmaker

My business began as Hamilton Construction and Renovations in Prince George, British Columbia in 1996 pretty much the moment I obtained my Red Seal certification. My work involved formwork, framing, residential and commercial construction to lockup. In 2002 I moved to Courtenay on Vancouver Island where I contracted to a highly respected builder there, adding fine finishing and exteriors to my list of expertise, quickly earning the title ‘master carpenter’.
Late in 2003 I sustained a work injury which resulted in having two of my cervical vertebrae fused permanently together, prompting my surgeon to recommend I leave heavy construction.
Once I was able to do light work I received a call from someone asking if I could build some cabinetry to house their new flat screen TV. Sure, I said. I had some basic equipment I had inherited from my dad and was pretty confident in my skills, so once a plan and a price was agreed upon I set to work in my single car garage for my first piece of professional cabinetry.

After I was finished installing the unit, Madman McKay Home Electronics completed the wires and cables and installed the TV.

2003 was right around the time that flat screen televisions became popular, and customers had no where to display them. Madman was so pleased with the work I had done that 80% of my work for the following year came through referrals from them. It was a beautiful partnership that launched my cabinet making career.

Thanks Madman! And thank you to my first customer, who was very happy with the project 🙂
Since then I’ve built many more built-ins, kitchens and furniture pieces.

Today I am a kitchen contractor & renovator serving Squamish & Whistler BC.

Have a question? Advice is free!

Kitchens- Start Here

There are lots of do’s and don’ts in planning a kitchen renovation. I’ve seen and brought to life a lot of good kitchen plans, and guided clients away from bad plans that just wouldn’t have worked in their space. I’ve also helped many clients find solutions to their specific needs through the design phase; here is my basic ‘start here’ list before even talking about aesthetics, which I’ll talk about in a forthcoming post.

The first question I ask in an initial consultation is, “What are your needs?” This is often a question that gets neglected because we are all so used to making do with the space we have, so I suggest starting with a fresh look at the room available as blank slate. Out comes the paper and pencil, and an empty outline of the floor area is drawn. The next question is access; this usually predetermines a significant part of the design. Can doors/windows be relocated or altered to improve function if necessary, and does the budget allow for it? How about moving the major appliances? Sometimes even a small shift can make a big difference.

Main Design Considerations

TRAFFIC

How many people are usually in the kitchen at the same time? There are different needs for a family than a single person or a professional couple. Where are the doors into and out of the kitchen and how will they impact the space? Is there room for an island (suggested minimum 42” between counters) if desired or a peninsula countertop? Is there adequate space for stools at an eating bar? Is there a direct line to the coveted coffee prep area that doesn’t have to impede other morning traffic?

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WORKFLOW

The classic ‘work triangle’ between prep & cooking area, cleaning zone and food storage is a starting point. Generally speaking, there shouldn’t be a long walk to any of them. Ergonomics is everything because there’s nothing more frustrating than daily inconveniences in the kitchen. The food prep area should be close to both the refrigerator and the cooktop. It should also have convenient access to knives, cutting boards and food storage containers. Within reach of the cooktop should be cooking utensils, with pots and pans as close as possible. If there is a separate wall oven, make sure there is a heat-proof drop zone close by and keep those oven mitts handy! Are you a baker? A spacious floor plan might allow room for a dropped counter for kneading breads or rolling pastries. Ideally the cleanup zone should not come between any of these.

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STORAGE

How many appliances do you have? Where will they be stored? They don’t all have to go on the counter. What about baking supplies, canned goods and food sundries? Most kitchens don’t have space for a walk-in pantry; tall pull-out pantries in limited spaces are a good option because the entire depth of the space is reachable, so nothing gets buried at the back of the shelf. Pull-outs above the refrigerator make great use of a hard-to-reach space as well. Lower cabinets are almost exclusively drawers and sliding components these days, because who wants to get down on their hands and knees to dig through the bottom shelf? And of course don’t forget waste, recycling and compost! Clean dish storage should be adjacent to the sink and dishwasher, preferably closest to the eating area for convenient dinner set up.

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BUDGET

It’s very important to know what the limit is before you begin. Sometimes this can predetermine much of the above conversation, and sometimes the ‘need-vs-want’ card has to be played to keep things realistic. On the other hand, more of the ‘wants’ may be possible than previously thought, making that dream kitchen within reach. Much of the budget scope can be adjusted through material choices, for example quartz vs laminate, natural stone floor tile vs a man-made material (so many excellent new products!) Dovetail drawers or doweled melamine? The choices are many. If your wish list produces a number that’s too high, don’t give up, ask for some more cost-sensitive options that would still fit your needs.

Above all, be comfortable with the designer & kitchen contractor you choose. They should instill confidence and be easy to talk to, listen and have answers for all of your questions and be willing to work within your parameters.

Happy renovating!