Our clients regularly ask whether it’s worthwhile paying for an interior designer. After all, they are often perceived to be expensive with a focus on picking cushions and curtains. How much extra value can an interior design expert add?
At Granit, we have architecture and interior design skills in our team. They often work together as a joined-up design team for our clients, although they also work independently. We believe there’s significant value-added when our interior and architectural designers work together as a team, guiding each other in decision-making that takes our clients’ properties from good to great.
To explain how I have interviewed our team to find out how they work together and explore the relationship between architecture and interior design. You can find their responses below. Lisa and Vicki are in our interior design team, and James and Emily are from the architecture side.
Q. What does an interior designer bring to a construction project?
I’ll take that one. I think the term “interior designer” sounds intimidating. It’s a luxury our clients believe they don’t need or perhaps can’t afford. Many of our clients initially picture us selecting fabrics and accessories that they don’t think they need. But, our services are much more in-depth than this.
What we provide is an extension of the architectural service. We give an added level of attention to detail, looking at room layouts, furniture arrangement within a room, how rooms come together within each floor of a property, and how the spaces interact.
It is best to address these conversations early in the design process—much before we get to wall coverings, fabrics, and paints.
The interiors team brings a different perspective to our design work. It’s an extra level of thinking that informs how we design at all project stages. Often their input in the early-stage decisions can be more influential on the outcome of a design than later-stage input on materials, fixtures and fitting specifications.
Our clients often have many ideas but don’t know where to start or how to bring everything together. That’s where we come in.
We can advise on the best approach to design and construction, including:
* Where to source materials, including everything from the big-ticket items such as kitchens and bathroom fittings to furniture, pieces of artwork, and cushions, of course. Alongside sourcing and sometimes supplying, we also produce schedules that help ensure materials arrive on-site when needed, keeping a build ‘on programme’.
* Setting out, which is the process of ensuring you get what’s on the construction drawings. Your contractors need direction, so a detailed setting-out prevents you from standing on-site, pointing to where you want the toilet or towel rail hanging.
* Which products to choose. What’s durable or trendy? What’s classic or going out of style? As interior designers, we spend a lot of time looking at the details and studying the fashions. We like to think we have a good eye for these things based on our experiences.
* Integrating design details into the overall scheme. We work on detailed elements such as lighting, storage, and kitchen layouts. We use our experience to think of design solutions our clients may not think of themselves.
* Creating something bespoke. Many of our clients want something unique that reflects their tastes and style. We are experts at delivering a tailored product rather than a copy-paste of a friend, neighbour, colleague, or something you might have seen in a magazine.
the value-added at setting out is massive. Designs can change from an initial set of construction drawings to being on-site, and our interiors team can be there to advise at every step of the way. Their eye for detail is always apparent when we look at a completed scheme. Every aspect is careful and joined up.
What we can do with our experience and knowledge of suppliers would take our clients hours and hours to do. And then, they would have the task of ensuring it all works together and communicating what they want to the contractor.
Perhaps the real value we add is taking the hard work out of making hundreds if not thousands of very detailed design decisions?
2. Why is it helpful to integrate an interior designer into the project team from an early stage?
Our interior designers are precious early on in the process, where they help with the strategic decisions around space planning and how different areas of a property will be used and work together.
These decisions are typically expensive or impossible to change at the later stages of a project. Once we have planning permission in place or for schemes without planning, once the walls are in, it’s challenging to make a change. Or if not difficult, very expensive.
By considering that extra level of detail early in the design phase, you can create a perfect scheme.
We see ourselves as a continuation of the architectural services.
Involving us from the start at the feasibility stage, we can pick up on room layouts and functionality, details it’s easy to overlook when trying to create an attractive architectural space. Sorry colleagues, but sometimes we can pick up on the impact of design decisions at a more detailed and practical level.
Our general knowledge of interior design is gained by working in the industry and acquiring years of experience.
The development of a concept, in other words, developing a vision for how the project looks, can also be about materials and lighting, both natural and artificial. When our architects and interior designers work together, the design can often be more coherent.
The trick is to have enough of a sense of what is likely to work without getting bogged down in detail, which is the classic trap many people fall into at the early stages of a project.
Picking up on what James mentions on materials and lighting, these are both areas that an interior designer will consider and integrate into a design scheme from an early stage. Good lighting design can really enhance a scheme, and ensuring that it is considered and designed from the outset means it can be tied in with any joinery or specialist finishes.
Q. What are the other benefits an interior designer brings to a construction project:
our interior designers are great at looking beyond the space, too and help to select materials. They have an extensive collection of samples of all possible materials and surfaces we refer to all the time.
They can compare whether colours are complementary and if they bring a pop of colour or add some texture to the space. They advise on the choice of materials too, thinking about where to use natural stones in a kitchen or bathroom, of which stone is low maintenance or very durable, for example.
Some clients look to save money on their projects by going directly to a supplier, for example, with kitchens. A kitchen supplier will typically visit your site, look at the space, take measurements, and draw up a scheme in line with the client brief for that room only.
An interior designer will review all of the drawings for a project. We will look at how the rooms fit together. How will the kitchen layout affect your enjoyment of the other spaces? Could it be arranged better? The result is more considered by looking at every possible option for the client—all rooms and areas knit together better.
As interior designers, we will also source quotes, advise on every supply item, and coordinate between suppliers to establish the best design. If we stick with the kitchen example, the client will have more options at different and sometimes wildly varying price points. All the information we receive from suppliers is integrated into the drawings to work out how the various items would fit within the entire kitchen. This holistic thinking can be constructive when controlling budgets.
As well as considering spaces in-depth, we also put a lot of thought into details which are just as important to the finished design. Where and what type of skirting is being fitted to each wall? How this junctions with any steps or other mouldings. Any built-in joinery will usually intersect with a cornice; how is this detailed? Are any doors going to clash with anything nearby when opened?
Pre-empting these types of details before construction starts makes a space look considered and eradicates nasty details.
Q. What about for commercial development projects?
For commercial development projects, we see the same standard materials and finishes over and over. What we give our commercial clients is something that makes their product stand out from the crowd, something more exciting and appealing, which can help them sell properties quicker and for the best price.
For example, rather than a standard grey and white bathroom, we can design luxurious or playful rooms that will appeal more to their target market.
We can also analyse the layouts to make the spaces work best for how people tend to live. So often, we see commercial developments where you can’t comfortably fit a sofa in the living room, or there’s no storage space, which isn’t practical.
Similarly, we can help introduce exciting materials to enhance the spaces for other commercial properties such as offices or lobby spaces. We also review layouts and how people use the space to make them flow comfortably.
When it comes to commercial property clients, we understand they want a property (or multiple properties) that looks great and will sell quickly but which is cost-effective to produce.
We have a wide knowledge of suppliers that we can draw from who provide attractive products and materials but which do not cost the earth. When designing multiple properties, we often push to modify some of the designs and finishes so that the residences do not all look the same, which often assists with marketing.
I hope that has given you some additional understanding of how our architects and interior designers work well together. I encourage you to talk to our team if you would like to find out more. Our contact details can be found here.
I’ll finish off with a recent testimonial from one of our clients who appointed us for both architecture and interior design:
“James, Mantas (architects) and Vicki (interior designer) working in partnership, hand in hand, was invaluable. It was a key factor in us not spending every hour looking for the right style of products, like taps and tiles, and getting the right quality in our price range.”