Most of us grew up watching HGTV – the polished shows made interior designing seem like a dream! And on some days, it most definitely is, especially on the big reveal day when renderings and mood boards come to life in your home with all of the beautiful items we’ve selected just for you. It’s such a joy to welcome you home, your space transformed and you love it! But there are so many details involved other than just selecting colors and the right fabrics. We interviewed four of our designers – Erica Kadlec, Deneen Schamer, Kellyann Gerson, and Michelle Sanders-Osborne – to share their experiences and describe what it’s actually like to be a designer.
The Biggest Misconception About Being a Designer
While a TV show displays a project in the span of 30 minutes, it takes much longer to plan, design, and execute the space. For most clients, it can take roughly 3-12 months from start to finish whether it be to remodel or furnish, both of which depend on lead times for custom items, selection process from the client and contractor timelines. The shows often don’t reference the budget, which Erica says, “is a big factor – it influences every decision. Additionally, television doesn’t show a lot of the running around you do or daily computer work. I spent all day on the computer yesterday working on emails and furniture layouts. They don’t show the tedious and not-so-glamorous side of the project.”
Not to mention that with a traditional design business “For the most part, there’s only one or two designers working on your project opposed to a team of 20 that are behind the scenes on HGTV that are able to come up with solutions at the drop of a hat,” says Kellyann. “I heard a really well-known HGTV star talk about how she looks back at her early projects and would just reposition things in different homes similar to a staging. In the end, the client’s home looks beautiful, but is it functional and does it work for the family’s needs? They don’t really get into the nitty gritty and what the clients’ needs are.”
What Is an Interior Designer and What Do They Do?
Kellyann describes an interior designer as “someone that helps clients envision their space in a new way; someone that can sometimes push a client outside of their comfort zone but at the same time, listens to them and identifies their pain points in order to produce creative, functional, and aesthetically pleasing solutions.” According to Michelle, it’s important to note that a designer is not only “creative, but also knowledgeable about space planning and building materials. They need to understand the construction requirements and details in order to best design within budget and on schedule.”
A day in the life of a designer is always evolving. Each day is completely different from the last as the designer works alongside clients who have different personalities, desires, and needs as well as working on anywhere from 4-20 projects at a time all at different phases. Each of our designers approach their days in a way that works best for them and their work flow.
Overall, it’s a general mix of researching, sourcing items, preparing for and presenting designs in client meetings, placing orders, coordinating with contractors, checking in on construction and current projects, planning for set ups and room layouts and a whole lot of driving for job site visits. Deneen comments, “I am usually putting about 50-100 miles on my car any given day… and I typically eat lunch in my car on the way to a meeting.” Michelle adds, “Within one day, I could take multiple loops around 270 – meeting with clients and vendors, sourcing materials and so on. We get really savvy at finding places to work on the spot; I’m a frequent visitor to Starbucks and the library just to get some work done between meetings.”
With all the busyness of the day, Kellyann makes sure to prioritize family time in the mornings and the evenings, “I start off most mornings with my littles and we start the day with a snuggle sesh. After dropping them off at school, I like to come back to relax a little. I use that time to do some research and any preparation for meetings… I try to be done by 6 to have some family time. But there are many times I put the kids to bed and then I’m back on the computer till midnight.”
Design by Kellyann Gerson
What Kinds of Research Go into Each Project?
Client communication and listening to the client’s pain points is at the core of all research for any given project. Kellyann says, “You don’t want all your clients’ homes to look the same – you have to be innovative and come up with new ideas. They don’t want a cookie cutter home, so we as designers, have to keep our ideas fresh and up with the times. Keeping their budget at the forefront of decisions is key in the selection process.” Erica also added that “other details included in research are the layout and sizing of each piece to properly fit in a client’s home, searching for items, making sure I have all the right parts and pieces for the plumbing fixtures, etc. Mostly, I’m responsible for getting the pieces you can see from the surface.”
These two bedrooms were designed by Michelle, as she listened tentatively to her two different clients. Our designers seek to understand your vision and bring it to life and as a result, no two designs are the same – we fully believe your home should reflect you and your family.
Bedroom #1 designed by Michelle
Bedroom #2 designed by Michelle
What Decisions are the Most Exciting for a Remodeling Project?
While each part of the process is fun and unique in its own way, we asked each of the designers to tell us what their favorite, or most exciting, part of the process was.
Kellyann has a background in fashion design and enjoys the process of material selections. “I love putting colors and patterns together – pairing raw materials, upholstery fabrics, and paint colors – to create something truly unique and representative of my clients.”
Deneen’s favorite part is “100% reconfiguring the space, opening up walls, changing locations of appliances or an island and just creating a space that feels very different and fresh for the client.”
Michelle loves the research phase and follow-through of the design. “I enjoy sourcing, finding the right item, pulling everything together with the overall design and style of the space and then executing it at the end with the setup.”
For Erica, “set up day and the big reveal are the most exciting, when you get to see it all together. For example, I had this idea for a kitchen I was working on for a hidden pantry and when I got to see it come together, that was really exciting!”
After – designed by Erica Kadlec
Where Does a Designer’s Inspiration Come From?
A designer’s inspiration can come from anything and everything. You can find us taking pictures of store displays and restaurant feature walls, tearing out magazine pages, stopping mid-sentence to jot down an idea a conversation triggered, etc. At KP Designs, we collectively research upcoming trends whether it be through social media, attending Market – a design show – or “looking to the East and West coast designers to see what ideas they are pushing because we know it will eventually trickle down in a year or two to the Midwest” (Kellyann). Our goal is to remain ‘in-the-know’ when it comes to design and seek to be innovative designers so that each home feels unique and special.
Screenshot by Erica of a Studio McGee sink drip rail as inspiration
Erica’s practical and beautiful drip rail design for her client
Why Do Clients Hire a Designer Instead of Doing It Themselves?
“Any sort of remodel you do whether it’s a newbuild or redoing a primary bedroom, the decisions that have to be made and coordination between contractors, sub-contractors and vendors is an overwhelming and time consuming job. I always tell the client that it’s a job in and of itself. I’m taking this second job off of their plate, because to really do it right, it’s a full-time job. I try to alleviate all their stress through taking on a project manager role which is more than just designing. The more full-service you can be, like communicating with contractors, sourcing, hanging artwork and making beds, the better for clients” (Kellyann).
As we’ve learned, being an interior designer is a lot of fun, from start to finish. But it also has its not-so-fun days, similar to any other job. It is a full-time career full of twists and turns and we’re here for the ride. To close, Deneen says, “I’ve been doing this for a long time, almost 15 years, and I never get tired of it. I love the relationships I’ve made with the clients and often by the end of the project, I feel like part of the family.”
Sun Room designed by Deneen
Great Room designed by Deneen
Are you interested in becoming a part of the KP Designs Family? Reach out to us for a complimentary phone consultation!