I am sure this is a question you ask yourself when considering a renovation or home update.
Initially it might seem like an additional expense that you don't want to incur or, perhaps it feels like something you can do yourself, or maybe you just assume a specific trade (like a flooring company) could help you equally as well, but in my experience this is just not the case. Before I elaborate on that thought though let me ask you some questions.
If you went to see a play or a movie would you think you could recreate it at home, and it would be just as good? If you didn't have the stage manager or the producer, if you didn't have the lighting team, the set designers, the actors, the audio team, if you didn't have all those people would the result be as good? More importanly, would any of those people be as good on their own without a plan to follow? Without an idea to get behind and create?
Now take a home renovation. Imagine your Interior Designer is your movie producer or artistic director. They understand your vision and the know how to help you achieve it.
As an expert in colour, texture, material, and how these go together to make a space feel like home they can advise and help you make choices to bring a colour palette together.
They can pick the paint that compliments the hue of the wood, and the tile that compliments the shape of the furniture, or the lighting that highlights in just the right places.
Think of your interior designer as an artist, they are painting your room, they are painting your house, and they are pulling it all together perfectly. This is a skill they likely trained although in most cases it will come naturally to them.
In addition to the above though; for those that have been in business a while, they will know the trades they would recommend and where to go to get the finishes you need. What is more, they are invested in the vision because they created it with you and they want to see it through to its successful conclusion. With reference back to my previous analogies they will probably know which 'lighting team' to hire, which 'set designer' to go to for flooring (and which to hire for the walls). They know which stage manager (project manager/general contractor) is best at managing a production and they help you find that person or, in some cases, they offer that service themselves.
Above all else, they are experienced in their field. In summary:
More than that though, they do the hard work for you. A renovation or home update shouldn't have to be a headache, and it shouldn't have to stressful for you, the homeowner. Your Interior Designer is there for you and is trying to make the process as fun, engaging, and stress-free as possible for you.
As an Interior Designer myself, I am highly invested in my client’s happiness and I try my hardest to make sure my clients get what they need for the price they can afford. Nothing is more important than a client happy with the results of a project.
I could go on forever on this topic but I hope that what I wrote here is helpful to you in understanding how an Interior Designer can help you with your project and why it's always worthwhile to consult an expert.
If you found this article engaging, then please read on for a little more about what we do at ReImagine Home.
At ReImagine Home we offer full project oversight, design to completion. We like to work on renovating existing homes and working with what you have as opposed to re-building from the ground up.
As your designer I will work with you to come up with your vision for your project. From there I will work to find all the finishes, fixtures, and furniture that you need.
We offer a CAD drafting service where we translate the design, we discussed in to plans we can submit to the city for planning approval.
Once the project is approved, we are happy to recommend, engage, and coordinate trades on your behalf. This really takes the stress out of the renovation project for you as we are doing all the hard work for you.
If this sounds appealing, please click on the link below to view our website or scroll down this page for some 'Renovation Recaps' of our past projects.
This home renovation was focused on updating an out-dated main floor into something modern, interesting, and engaging.
The house was originally a home builders’ home and had been built 10 years prior. There were cream carpets, beige walls, melamine countertops, and some hardwood flooring which, whilst nice, didn't add anything to the overall aesthetic. Due to a water leak; which had caused some floorboards to separate, the homeowner was looking to revamp the main floor and keep the one thing that was still in good shape, the cabinetry.
We started by exploring the colours the client wanted to see in the house and went from there. They didn't like light floors, so we looked at a darker flooring that would compliment the existing cabinetry. They didn't want to risk water damage on wood again, so we went with a high-end vinyl plank that is exceptionally durable and looks similar to a wood floor finish. So, the flooring would tie in with the cabinets we found a darker flooring with a light honey coloured grain running through it which complimented the maple cabinets nicely.
The next step was wall colour. It is not enough to make sure the cabinets and flooring match, you need to tie them together with a complimentary wall colour. We went with a warm rich purple on the walls. Not some peoples first choice but an excellent choice in this circumstance. A pale colour would have looked washed out, and whilst nice, would haven't had the impact a colour would. As it turned out the golden hue of the maple sat nicely on the backdrop of the deep purple, and the now dark floor did not look out of place as there was a darker colour on the walls to tie it in.
Next, we turned our focus to the countertop and backsplash. All elements of a design must come together cohesively, and the sense of the finished product must be there prior to executing on anything. We went with a neutral up-to-date subway tile that matched the complimentary neutral paint colour that we had picked to accent the purple. This tied the other end of the room into the kitchen area and made the design cohesive.
Lastly, we picked the countertop. The countertop had to be light to make sure the room wasn't too dark and overwhelmed with dark colours. With the blinds drawn there wasn't a lot of light in the room and if we'd chosen a dark countertop too it would have really brough the design down.
So, with that, we picked a granite that was durable. It had the brown of the floor, with a hint of the purple hue in the brown and was predominately white to tie all design elements together.
The outcome was a beautifully updated home that the owner could love for many years to come.
This was one of the more fun renovation projects we have undertaken. You may have heard the phrase 'creativity loves constraints' and you don't find more constraints that when you need to make 500 sq ft functional for two people to live in comfortably. This project saw us turn a small cookie-cutter apartment in to a beautiful living space that anyone could appreciate.
The target market with this project was clear, young 20-40 year old business women with partners (or not) with pets (or not) regardless, the intent from the client was to have a space that they could successfully rent out to good tenants for many years to come.
There was a lot of work to do. The apartment floors were an old worn dark brown laminate that, whilst it matched the cabinetry had seen better days and couldn't help but look cheap. The walls were a neutral off white and the baseboard heaters were outdated and had seen better days. The bathroom tile was the same tile found in the stairwell outside and was again a nondescript brown that did nothing to add to the appeal of the apartment. Lastly, the window coverings were the old vertical blinds that whilst cheap to install, gathered dust and really darkened the room, blocking the beautiful natural light that could come in.
We started as always by building our colour board. Since we were going to change the flooring, the wall colour, the bathroom, it needed to come together cohesively, and intentionally. Any colour or design misstep would be easily noticeable due to the small closeness of the space. Since the space was made dark by the blinds and the previously chosen flooring we wanted to lighten up the flooring. Since the space was going to be rented we chose tile because it's durable, and also because it needed to run through the whole apartment which included the bathroom. The reason we decided to do the same flooring throughout is that in a small apartment, lines which cut off rooms can make areas look smaller whereas a seamless flow gives the feeling of space. Additionally continuous flooring would tie all the rooms together with intention so the design was connected throughout every room. For the tile type we chose a wood look tile, because we wanted to give the feel of wooden floors as these nearly always feel warmer and more luxurious.
The floor tile had lots of neutral colours in it which allowed us to tie easily in to the existing cupboards and gave us the opportunity to pick two complimentary colours for the walls that continued to give that feeling of a clean, fresh, and bright renovation. We went with a soft blue green and a neutral grey brown accent which had a soft pink hint in some lights which warmed the space. We added a back splash to the kitchen which brought in the colours from the walls, and the other colours in the floor and gave interest to the kitchen area. We kept the original countertops and they were a busy granite look and so the backsplash needed to not have an overwhelming pattern as it would have clashed with the countertops busyness. However, it couldn't be too plain either because there were large expanses of painted wall and dark cabinets and if the backsplash were a simple subway tile or one colour it wouldn't have given the visual interest that was needed.
Lastly, we looked at the bathroom. This was a complete renovation. Since the bathroom was close to the kitchen but not in line of site with the kitchen we could safely remove the bathroom vanity but we kept it a dark colour so it felt connected to the kitchen cabinetry. So the dark bathroom cabinet didn't feel out of place against the light floors we chose a dark tile feature wall which we lightened with a pale tile on the remaining walls and a horizontal mosaic accent to draw your eye to the back of the room and artificially lengthen the darker wall.
In design we believe that little details matter so we picked glass shelves (so your vision was not obstructed in a small bathroom) and matched the mosaic tile detail to the width of the shelves. This may seem small but the balance that creates where the 90 degree angle is the same on both sides is important. There are many other little touches like this we did to save space and create storage whilst not overpowering the space. We added a niche in the shower to store shampoo bottles out of sight, and to again, reduce the visual clutter you see when you walk in to the bathroom. In the bedroom we added open shelving for hanging clothes which was aesthetically appealing but also, increased the storage space in the apartment.
When it came to furnishing we made the choice to buy furniture that fit the space and could be multipurpose. The bed was a queen bed, but we tucked it in the corner were it fit exactly and, because it was raised we could store items under it. Along the same wall as the open clothing area we added shelves and drawers that fit the space and were wall mounted. The storage choices were simple but by having them not take up space on the actual floor you got additional storage but continued to keep the feeling that you had more space as you could see the base of the walls. Lastly, in the main area we purchased a table that could fold away so when you weren't using it you had free space to use as you saw fit and we put in couches that could double as a bed if you did ever have a guest to stay.
Given all of the above and the result we were able to achieve I would say, it's not the space you have, it's what you do with it that really matters.
For this renovation, the client wanted to update their old kitchen cabinets and try and tie in the beautiful cherry floors in the kitchen. They were looking to lighten up the overall space and create a more modern feel however they loved their existing backsplash and counter-tops and wanted to keep this element in the overall design.
The old kitchen cabinets were made of oak, to match the trim around the windows but the yellow/orange of the oak did not contrast as well with the red/brown of the cherry. The cabinet interiors were mostly in good shape, but the some needed replacing while some could be retained, and we chose to do this to reduce costs.
The client liked the existing layout of the kitchen so very little was done there, and the main requirements became to simply make the new kitchen work with the oak trim and they cherry floors, whilst keeping the back-splash and the counter-top, and lightening the overall space.
As you can imagine this is a challenging problem because you must pull all the different tones together and make it all look intentional. A renovation like this need careful design and colour consideration. It wouldn't have made sense to introduce another wood tone because there were already two woods competing in the space.
If we had chosen a cherry cabinet, it would have made the overall space darker and would have drawn attention to the oak trim and made it stand out even more as different that the rest.
My suggestion therefore was to go with a painted finish for the cabinets. The cabinets themselves were still made of solid wood but we picked a pale, neutral colour found in the granite, that really brought out the beautiful red and brown variation of the cherry, and helped to tone down the orange of the oak and the yellow of the counter-tops.
The last element that brought this design together was updating the paint on the walls in the kitchen. Previously the client had a soft green, but this did not go so well with the new colour choices and made the counter-tops and tile look more yellow against the new lighter cupboards. We went with a slightly darker shade of white/grey for the walls, so they didn't blend in with the cupboards just simply complemented them. The client was extremely happy with their renovation and has since informed me that they get a lot of compliments on the newly updated kitchen and they themselves love how light and airy it now feels.
This client had recently moved into this old war time house and the bathroom was badly in need of an update. They wanted to look at what they could do to make the basement space more livable, the back entry-way more functional, and the bathroom a beautiful but more usable room in the house. The bathroom was shared between the whole family and was beset with a number of plumbing issues so this definitely needed to be tackled first.
Aside: When approaching a renovation, I like to understand the full scope of work a homeowner is planning to do. This means we don't look just at the immediate future, but also the long-term future. If we make a long-term plan knowing that there will be subsequent renovation efforts then we may be able to incorporate some changes in the first that will make phase 2 of the renovation a lot easier. For more context consider the thought, 'why revisit an area twice'. If the plumbing needs an update, perhaps it's good to plan for your future basement bathroom at the same time, if the HVAC needs updating, maybe we can look at reorganizing or changing duct work while the contractors are in there. This type of thinking really helps save costs down the road and is the type of thinking we undertook on this project.
When we started this project we began by listing out all the clients needs of their newly updated bathroom and other renovation items. The toilet in the existing bathroom was strangely located right as you walked in the bathroom door. It protruded into the entry way in an awkward manner and so it was important to the homeowner we price in relocating the toilet to make the space more usable.
The hall cupboard took up useful space in the bathroom but was not very functional for the family as a cupboard, so we decided to remove that to give more space in the small bathroom. In a four-person household storage space is still important, so we designed in niches in the bathroom for storing products in. We chose this option as opposed to wall cupboards as in a small space any object which protrudes into the room can make the space feel cramped. The unused wall space between rooms is the perfect place to fit some additional custom-built shelving.
The existing window in the bathroom was old and needed replacing so we took the opportunity to reduce its size and move it further into the room away from the bathtub so the tile of the tub surround could finish in a nice clean line.
With those items accounted for, we looked at the rear entry way. The hallway was very dark with a solid wooden back door and so we planned to replace the back door with a full-lite optionally shaded rear door.
The existing flooring was an old tile that was different than the flooring in the kitchen, was different than the flooring in the main living area, and different again from the flooring that was on the stairs. So to give the hall an update, but also make sure there was a seamless tile transition in to the bathroom; this would give the illusion of the bathroom being bigger than it was, we planned to replace all the hallway tiles and the bathroom tiles at the same time. This was a good choice as 5 different flooring types in a small space would give such a disjointed feeling to the overall home.
Lastly, we looked at the HVAC and electrical in the basement and started to plan out the future basement renovation. The electrical panel was old and had a bad track record for safety. The upgrade to the electrical panel saved the homeowner $200 on their insurance plan but also it made sure the family was safe in their home which is greater than any cost saving, or future renovation cost savings we might see.
All these elements accounted for; it was picking the finishes. I like to get full size samples and bring them in to the client’s home so you can really get a sense of what it will look like. Sometimes it is hard to see from a photo so this can really help. It is also a good idea to pick all the finishing items together so they are cohesive and work with each other that means, flooring samples, tiles samples, paint samples, cabinet samples, fixtures styles etc. It all needs to come together to give a cohesive and planned look to the finished product.
This renovation took about 3 months from start to finish. From planning out what we were going to do, to engaging contractors, purchasing materials etc. we were all wrapped up in 3 months and I can honestly say that the homeowners are as happy with their renovation today as they were then. We are now moving in to phase 2 of this project and looking at the basement and I am pleased to report the changes we made to the duct work, the moving of the electrical panel, and the upgrading of the plumbing are going to serve us well in our current plans. I will be posting that update here when it is done so check back then for more details on how that project goes.