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  1. #1
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    Jun 2011
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    Question Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    We live in a cottage built in 1910. There have been very few renovations done in it's 100+ years. Our kitchen is from the 60s and a laundry room was added in the early 70s. We love the character of the house and want to maintain the integrity of the original design, but need to make a few areas more functional and modern.

    Some of these changes will be big (i.e., expanding a powder bath to give us 2 full baths and doing a functional upgrade to the galley kitchen) as well as smaller tasks like carving out a "mud room" space in the laundry room. I have a lot of ideas of how I want things to work, but I think we definitely need a professional to come in and help make a real plan and keep things focused and utilize our little space in the best way possible.

    Which leads me to this decision-- do we hire a residential architect or more of a designer to help plan the updates? We want to do some of the work ourselves, so I don't need a contractor, just someone to effectively design the space so we have a vision to follow going forward. Which would you hire? and why?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    The classic problem with hiring an architect - they are more of an 'idea' person and not so good on the practical details. The same could be said about a designer. Input from a few sources will help a lot, especially if you are planning on doing the work yourself. I've worked with designers who had wonderful ideas, but the cost of doing exactly what they dreamed was 10x more than minor modifications to their plans. You'd be ****en if you can find a designer / architect / builder who has experience in your neighborhood.

    Typical problems are door swing, cabinet placement and reach, appliance placement, conflicts with HVAC, plumbing and electric.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    I actually know of two architects that live in my neighborhood. One is directly across the street (designed and built his house to fit in with the neighborhood about 10 years ago), and another specializes in old home renovations.

    So maybe one of those guys would be my best bet.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    Sounds like a plan. Interview them both and see what they have to say.
    An architect is more likely to be able to envision the whole project and possibly suggest ideas that you haven't thought of. Of course an architect is an idea person and details are part of the job description if you want to pay for it. Their job is to show you what needs to be built, not how to build it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    As with all trades, get references, especially ones where you can go and see their work. Having ideas is one thing, having functional ideas is quite another. A lot of architects/designers get trapped up in design over function, when it should be the other way around, function first with a flair of design to spice things up. Make sure that you give plenty of input to how you use the space and specifics of what you need/want, it is their job to incorporate those ideas into their own.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    I would say if you are planning on structural changes get an architect, but if you are just planning on redoing the same foot print get a designer. Often times creating a mud room in an existing area can be accomplished with just cabinets and seating rather than building walls.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    Let me just add this: Working with designers, I've always had a feeling that they can't stick to a budget. They think they design for the government, where going over budget is a normal thing.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    So invite the Architects over to dinner (but not both at the same dinner) and see what they think while you're relaxing afterward. That way you get free professional advice

    This is not really that hard to do for yourself, but you need to be aware that most people want more features than the defined space allows for. They also don't think in terms of a final goal as much as each single step so that the end result doesn't quite work out as well as they wanted it to. My approach is:

    1- Space. Do you want to add any more? If so, how much and for what purpose? Once consolidated, go on to:

    2- Budget. How much can you spend? Now reduce that by 20% to cover the inevitable cost over-runs and go on to:

    3- Job flow. What, if anything, must be done first? Keep in mind that you want to approach this as continual progress where you don't have to undo something completed to attain the next goal. If something may or may not be added on later, build to a design now which will allow those choices easily later on. It may be something as simple as putting in wiring and pipes which will be hooked up later, additional studding in a wall, or moving a door or window when it's most convenient to do instead of dealing with it later. If there's a conflict here, resolve it now while it's easy and try to keep your options open in case you change your mind later on.

    The rest are just design elements such as choices of wall coverings, fixture styles, color schemes and so on. Those mostly affect the budget part, and if you're lucky you won't have had to dip into the extra 20% you allowed for in step 2 which will give you more options here. Most of the visible elements don't matter in the basic design but these are what most people concentrate on which is why their basic design doesn't give them what they wanted in the end. Get the basics right and the rest will come out a lot better

    Phil

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    If the changes you're considering keep within the existing footprint of the house (I.e., you just want to move the location of INTERIOR walls, both load-bearing and non load-bearing), then you'd want to hire an interior designer.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Which would you hire: architect or certified interior designer?

    Quote Originally Posted by BamaBenz View Post
    If the changes you're considering keep within the existing footprint of the house (I.e., you just want to move the location of INTERIOR walls, both load-bearing and non load-bearing), then you'd want to hire an interior designer.
    The last person i would consult if moving and interior bearing wall would be a designer. Look pretty but the house fell down.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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