May 28, 2012
By Glen Peloso
As you move around the city it is clear that both summer and construction season have started– it’s not just public projects around town it seems at every turn but also private residences that are engaged in the renovation process. We work with various clients and I’m often struck by how often people say, “I wish we had called you sooner.” Some people are very accustomed to working with a design company and others have more trepidation.
Clarifying the process from the start is helpful so that everyone is on the same page. It doesn’t matter which company you work with, what is important is that you feel comfortable with the person or people you are working with so that you can share your hopes and desires for the room, your budget and have a frank conversation about what is possible.
Before you get in touch with a design professional, have some ideas about why you want to go through with the renovation. Sometimes the process of speaking about what is wrong with the space will help give your designer some direction. It could be that the room doesn’t make sense for your family or it could be that you simply find the finishes outdated and want to reinvent the space to your liking. Once you start the process you want to be able to be an active voice in the process. The designer should be trying to make your ideas come to fruition while offering some ideas and products that you may not have considered.
I think it is helpful if you gather together a few magazines about home design and flip though them to select some of the images that appeal most to you. Put a sticky note on the page and indicate what it is about the room that appeals to you. It could be the wall colour, the flooring, the window treatments or just, “I love the way this room looks.” These will be good guidelines for the designer to understand what you are hoping to achieve so that they can get to work and assist you without trying to guess what you would like. It is important to listen to your designer when they point out some of the challenges involved in achieving what you want versus the actual space that you have to achieve it in.
Sometimes what looks great in a magazine just won’t work based on the architecture of your home, or the space the room has to offer. The designer is meant to act as a consultant on your project helping you with not only the decision of the design direction but also managing your budget. Knowing how to allot the funds you have so that you will get the most enjoyment out of the room is something you can look to your designer to help you with as well. Obviously something you use every day, or how to select multi-functional pieces to work with a smaller space is more important than an accessory on a shelf. They will also advise you on which renovations require an engineer’s or architect’s stamp for the building permits office and can often recommend someone they know and trust with this part of the process. Knowing what issues will arise from the renovation at the beginning as opposed to the in the middle of the project is a great way designers can better assist you during the renovation.
Another added benefit, aside from their experience, is a vast knowledge of products that are available, what is new in the marketplace and where to get it. Inevitably there are places that we use on a regular basis and understand. Places like BoConcept and Julian Armand for furniture, Prime Walls for wall coverings, Carpet One for floor coverings are all places I know well and can expeditiously find the product that is appropriate for your project. We also have knowledge of people to execute the project or can send you to websites like CasaGuru to find tradespeople who are qualified to do the work you need done.
All in all you can expect that the design fee will be approximately 10 per cent of your overall budget which I think is very reasonable. As I have said in the past, hiring a professional is much cheaper than paying to repair the mistakes of an amateur! Now that the renovations in the city have begun, the only real difficulty will be driving around during our construction, I mean summer season!
Glen Peloso, design editor at Home Décor and Renovations and principal designer of Glen Peloso Interiors, has been designing spaces for commercial, corporate and residential clients for almost two decades. You’ll recognize Glen as the host of such television design shows as Restaurant Makeover, Take This House & Sell It and Renovate My Wardrobe, to name a few, as well as from speaking engagements at home shows across Canada. glenpelosointeriors.com