Seeing the Big Picture

An interior decorator shares reasons why hiring professional designers is important.

Seeing the Big Picture

With 28 years of experience as an interior designer, Susan Corson, owner of Susan Corson Designs in Newton, shares the benefits of hiring a professional designer before starting an interior décor project for your home. She also offers advice on home décor as well as sharing some popular decorating trends for 2014. Corson is a graduate of the Boston Architectural Center, which is now the Boston Architectural College. She has worked with clients on Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard.

Cape Cod HOME (CCH): Why should homeowners consider hiring an interior designer/decorator?

Susan Corson (SC): The best reason is experience. Designers are trained to look at the big picture and know how different elements can be put together to reflect your individuality and the needs of your home life. A great plan is to develop a “road map” for the overall project that can be a reference tool to keep you on track. Knowing that the cupboard you found at the flea market will fit the wall in your dining room—even if you hadn’t planned on shopping for that room right away—saves time and money.

Whether you know what you want your “look” to be, or need help defining your style, a good designer can set you on the right path. Do you have stacks of magazines, or online ideas—or are you totally a fish out of water when it comes to interior design? Either way your designer knows how to get you started. Your designer is there to prevent costly mistakes and disappointing results. (For instance, that sofa might look great in the showroom, but it can be totally wrong when you have it delivered to your house!)

CCH: Do some projects require an interior decorator’s services more than others?

SC: All projects can benefit from the advice of a designer. From safety elements in bathrooms, to window placement and selection, there are many behind-the-scenes decisions that can affect the durability and comfort of a home. The beauty of design is much more than what you see on the surface.

CCH: Is there a cost benefit to hiring a designer before a project begins?

SC:  It’s especially helpful to have an interior designer as part of your building team (along with the contractor and architect) from the very start. There are so many choices and decisions to be made that it can be overwhelming for someone without experience. Designers keep projects on budget by preventing time delays, while ensuring the appropriate choices are made. And designers prevent costly mistakes that new homeowners are liable to make and have to live with for years to come.

CCH: What kind of qualities should a homeowner look for when hiring an interior decorator?

SC: The most important quality is that the designer listens. The second is that you feel comfortable with that person. I’ve always said that there are many qualified designers out there, but this is a person who could be in your life for many years, so the personality compatibility is crucial. It’s also helpful to see the designer’s work and talk to their other clients. Consider whether you want a designer that will simply help on a consulting basis, or someone who will do all the legwork and be heavily involved in all aspects. How does the designer charge for their services? Do they have the time that you need to work on your project?

Seeing the Big Picture

CCH: What are the biggest design mistakes that homeowners make?

SC: Most mistakes happen when homeowners get impatient and jump the gun by buying a big sectional sofa, or bedroom set—something that seems like a good idea at the time, but then is the elephant in the room for years to come. Taking the time to make a plan with an interior decorator at the start helps bypass this situation. Understanding scale and the balance of color is another difficulty for first-time decorators.

CCH: What are some interior decorating issues brought up by homeowners frequently?

SC: Most people need help with paint colors to start. Figuring out how to lay out a room that is aesthetically pleasing, but also fits the needs of the homeowner is sometimes a challenge.  Many people say that they have a difficult time visualizing a room, or knowing how to put it all together to get the effect they want.

CCH: What are some popular interior decorating trends for 2014?

SC: I think there is a trend towards individuality, but with a classical inference. Color is definitely back, but in small amounts. And quality is more important—in design and materials. Bigger is not necessarily better.

CCH: What is the single biggest design element that is overlooked by amateur decorators?

SC: Well-executed window treatments can make or break a room. Simple drapes on rods that are the right color, height, and fullness make a huge impact!

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