A Design Guide
Between you and your finished project there's the Designer; how well this union functions will not only determine the look, function and cost of the project but also your time of discovery, anticipation and enjoyment.
The decision to make a significant investment in your home is an undertaking that requires careful consideration as to how you will transform this desire and idea into reality. In this, the person you choose to provide design assistance will be responsible to translate your ideas into a plan that you are willing to commit to, your contractor/renovator can deliver upon and your budget can handle. A shortcoming in either or all of these responsibilities will most likely assure that your project will encounter setbacks and disapointment once the work commences.
A great design deserving of commitment must address and balance out aesthetics, function and budget. To do so the designer must take time to get to know how you will live and work in the area under consideration. He or she must consider the adjacent areas to ensure compatibility within the home as a whole. They should have sufficient knowledge to recognize potential construction related issues that could serverely impede the feasibility of the design. Budgeting must be openly and honestly discussed, it serves no purpose to design something no one can afford. The designer should have a good general idea as to what things cost and be able to bring this to your attention in short order.
Most importantly you and the designer must have compatability. Working together involves frequent meetings and effective bi-lateral communication, a great design will never materialize if you and the designer are constantly butting heads. Keep in mind that designers very widely in their style, approach and skill set, it's crucial to find the right match for you and your project. Make sure to see their portfolio, are there projects similar in size and style to yours? Does the designer express enthusiasm when discussing his or her work? Does the quality of design live up to your expectations? Are references available for you to contact to discuss and see a finished project? Does the designer demonstrate sincerity and an interest in you?
Watch for the Designers approach to you and your project. Over the years I have encountered 3 differing approaches. First the Designer knows everything and you don't, second the Designer just does what you ask for and third the Designer works with you in a mutually balanced relationship.
The Designer knows everything approach works providing you are willing to accept their advice under the belief that the Designer knows what's best for you. Be forwarned that these Designers often become overly defensive should you dare to question them and their enthusiasm is often related to the praise you expound upon them.
A Designer that just does what you ask for can work providing you have a very precise understanding of what you want and how it is to look. Don't expect the Designer to be overly proactive, remember you are the leader here and as such you are solely responsible for the outcome.
It is my belief that in most circumstances a mutually balanced relationship between you and the Designer works best. Designing is often an evolutionary process that evolves as a result of ongoing review and adjustment over several iterations by everyone involved. Each participant provides their own unique perspective which vets the design to insure that all elements have been fully and properly addressed.
Graham T. Korbey
The Kitchen Abode