Hiring an Interior Design Pro: When to Take on the Role of DIY Decorator, and When to Call in the Pros.

Guest blog posts are always so much fun for us!  We love to meet other small business owners and I was lucky enough to meet Michelle and Kyla a couple weeks ago at Port + Quarter. If you are looking for a savvy pair of ladies to do some interior design work for you, you should check them out! Below, is a blog post written by Michelle Miazga.

Your new home or renovation project is well under way. You’ve hired a professional contractor, electrician, custom cabinetmaker…but when it comes to the Interior Design you can handle that part solo. Sound familiar? Unfortunately it’s very common, and often times it can be a disservice to the beautiful transformation happening in your home.

Sure as a homeowner you know what your style is. You can easily identify the pieces that you gravitate to, or colours that excite you. But an Interior Designer’s job is much more complex and holistic than just selecting a few furniture items. So at what point is it a good idea to ask a professional for help, and when can you handle the task on your own?

I’ve outlined a few handy tips to help you analyze your situation and determine when you can most benefit from hiring an Interior Designer.

  1. Scope of the work: This is the first thing that you need to consider. How large is the project at hand? If we’re talking about all new furnishings, floor and wall coverings and lighting…this is a job for the pros. Just in need of a few quick accent pieces or revamp of your current items? This may be a case for the DIY Decorator to simply ask the advice of a sales person or hardware consultant. An Interior Designer is trained in a full spectrum or skills – everything from proper space planning, to colour theory, lighting selection and custom furniture design. It’s our job to determine the ideal size and location for each new purchase, anticipate the optimal flow of your space and coordinate a design that is functional, beautiful and uniquely you.
  2. Size of budget: As you know, your home is a large investment. You’ve already allotted a considerable budget to the hard goods: maybe a new kitchen, renovation or addition, so it’s easy to convince yourself that the perfect place to save some money is on the Interior Design. Think about it like this: you’ve had a custom outfit designed. The tailor has meticulously fit and measured the look just to you. The result is flawless. But to save a little money you select old scuffed up shoes, do your own grooming and use uncoordinating accessories because you happen to have them lying around. The look is blown. It’s a similar thought when deciding whether or not to hire an Interior Designer, but you may be surprised to know that hiring a pro may actually save you money in the long term.  Interior Designers tend to charge either hourly (for smaller projects) or as a set fee (for larger projects). In exchange for the fee that you pay them, they are able to receive and pass on Designer Discounts, for everything from large pieces, to linens and artwork. Designers are also privy to Trade-Only resources: brands and lines that are not available to the retail consumer. It’s not uncommon that the fee you pay the Interior Designer in the end is less than the money you save through discounts using their services. In the end you get a cohesive, thoughtful design using unique pieces, hand selected art and curated accents – and all for less than you would have paid retail if you did the project solo
  3. Time: Let’s face it. We live in a busy world. We all have jobs, hobbies, friends and family that take up the bulk of our time. Do you really have the time (and in this day and age time often equals money) to research, select and shop for each piece? Not to mention the time it takes to set everything up, rearrange it countless times because you were sure it would fit and now doesn’t seem to? Time is often a huge motivating factor when deciding to hire a professional. We’ve done this countless times. We know exactly where to go to source the perfect items, we have go-to people to help us install your look, and we work hard to take all the stress of the job off of your shoulders.
  4. The unique factor. If you want cookie cutter, we have a long list of places you could go shop. As an Interior Designer, one of my top priorities is developing a space that is completely unique to the clients. No two spaces are alike, as are no two clients. There are countless challenges on each project, and an Interior Designer is trained to not only identify these challenges before they arise, but to provide clever, useful solutions to each situation. On a daily basis we are trend-spotting, learning about the latest technology, fabric and styles and are constantly challenging ourselves to think outside the box on every project we undertake. So the results are completely unique to you, your family and your lifestyle.
  5. You need some inspiration: Not every project an Interior Designer works on is a full gut job. Often we consult on small-scale refresh projects that home owners can confidently undertake with only a small amount of guidance and inspiration. Colour consultations, space planning sessions and a service we offer at Port + Quarter called “Style Guides” provide clients with specific recommendations for their space. Many people are quite handy and comfortable both shopping and installing the look, but they want to insure the pieces selected with fit perfectly, work harmoniously and function correctly. An Interior Designer can be a wealth of knowledge, pointing you to the exact pieces that would work best – but allowing you to put your full look together yourself.


Yes, we’re all capable of selecting a sofa we love, just like we’re all capable of brushing our teeth. But when it comes time to filling that cavity we don’t hesitate in calling in the experts. If you’re unsure whether you truly need an Interior Designer it never hurts to call and book a consultation. For a minimal charge a Designer will be happy to come assess your space and let you know what services they can offer you. Ultimately you want to be happy in your space and hiring an Interior Designer is a great way to put the icing on the cake.


A native of the Alberta prairies, Michelle calls Vancouver home-where she is a founding partner of Port + Quarter Interiors. The Graduating Valedictorian of VCAD’s Interior Design Program she was also a musical theatre actor in a past life-having studied at The Canadian College of Performing Arts as well as graduating with Honors from Red Deer College’s esteemed Performance Program.

Website:  www.portandquarter.com

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