darci hether

in my 20 years working in the interior design industry, i’ve heard a lot of myths and misconceptions about working with an interior designer. i decided it was time to debunk some of the most common interior design myths!

i love design reality tv shows and glossy shelter magazines as much as the next person (maybe more!). they highlight some swoonworthy interiors, but it got me thinking…. wouldn’t it be interesting to know what really goes into making them? the real world of interior design is a complex business, complete with its own language and jargon, and all kinds of twists and turns you might not expect from those beautiful  glossy magazine spreads.

i talked about some of these myths last week on facebook live and i addressed several of the questions i get asked frequently. i think it’s important to address some of the elephants in the room when it comes to hiring an interior designer. i’m so passionate about what i do and my industry and i want to share that passion with you!

so pour yourself a glass of bubbly and get ready to meet some elephants! (kidding… well, not about the bubbly. i don’t kid about that.)

 

 

 

designer showhouse bedroom - darci hether new york
designer showhouse

1. interior design is “fun”

don’t get me wrong—i love my job. but let me paint a picture for you: i’m at a dinner party and someone asks me what i do for a living. i tell them i’m an interior designer, and they respond “oh that must be so much fun!!” and it is, but there’s a misconception that all we do all day is shop with our clients, pet fabrics, and look at pretty things, when that’s such a small glimpse into what we do. in reality, that ‘fun’ part is only about 10% of the job. the other 90% is all business: managing projects, vendor and contractor communications, placing orders, filing paperwork, checking measurements, coordinating a team, tracking the process, and billing. that 90% is what makes the project actually a reality, but it’s all behind the scenes. so yes, i love my job and i do think it’s fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work!

 

 

tribeca kitchen with pot filler, wolf oven, metallic backsplash, and mixed metal finishes - darci hether new york
tribeca kitchen

2. the consultation should be free

the purpose of an initial design consultation is to see if we will mesh (think of it like a first date!), and my goal in a consultation is to be completely open with you about what i can do with your space. i want to provide solid design advice and inspiration, point out things you may not have thought of, and open your eyes to exciting possibilities.

when i meet with a prospective client, i want to feel free to share with you all of my knowledge and experience, down to the smallest details. partly, that’s to empower you to decide if we’re a good match, but that’s not all. sometimes a consultation with one designer can spark an idea or raise a problem that helps guide you toward something new, even if that’s with a different designer. (also just like dating!)

whether or not i’m the right fit for your project, i want to make sure i’m leaving you with a lot of valuable, solid, concise information, so you can feel comfortable and confident moving forward in your design process.

 

 

install day timelapse - darci hether new york

3. reality tv timelines happen in real life

nope! as much as i wish every project finished as seamlessly as depicted in a one-hour episode… that just doesn’t happen. as a potential client, if you were to call me today, during our discovery phone call, one of the first questions i’d ask you is “why now?” are you needing to get your home done by the holidays? are you planning to host a fourth of july party? do you want to show it off to family over thanksgiving? i want to have an honest and realistic conversation up front about your timeline.

with that in mind, even the simplest of projects take time when everything goes smoothly. for instance, here in nyc, condo or co-op boards have an alteration agreement packet that has to be adhered to before any type of construction can even begin. for these types of renovation projects, drawings have to be done, a scope of work has to be written, and all of the contractor licenses and insurance have to be submitted…. and that’s just to begin the approval process! and this process can take several weeks to several months!! even the most straightforward interior design project with no renovation can take time. custom furniture, especially upholstery, has a very long lead time. 

keeping things running smoothly is a big part of an interior designer’s role. and when things go wrong, this is where an interior designer adds a lot of value. on a project a few years ago, we created drawings for a kitchen gut renovation based off of the building’s official plans on file with the city — namely based on the location of the gas riser. can you guess where this story is going?? once demo began, it was quickly discovered that the gas riser was in fact 18″ away from where it had been noted on the official building plans. all of a sudden we had to completely redesign the kitchen layout after the cabinetry order had already been placed and demolition had begun. it all came together beautifully in the end but it added about 4 weeks to the overall project!

surprises happen, and that’s why you need a skilled designer who is able to manage the project, pivot around the hiccups, and come up with a resolution that’s going to move the process forward and eliminate any worry for you

 

 

park ave south living room with built ins - darci hether new york
park ave south

4. an interior designer won’t reflect my personality

as a designer, when i’m working with a client i want your personality to shine through! when an initial call comes in, one of the things i ask a potential client is what they liked on my website that prompted them to call. maybe it’s the clean lines of my park ave project, or the casual chic of my bridgehampton home. but if your aesthetic is more about heavy tassels and bold color palettes… chances are you wouldn’t be calling me. 

one of the first things i do when i start a working with a new client is to ask tons of questions to get a feel for your way of life. we’ll talk about your likes, dislikes, the feel you want to have. do you like to entertain formally? or are you more laid back? is it all about cocktail parties and hosting your business associates? or is your home all about relaxing and decompressing? ultimately, how do you wish to use your space and what mood or personality do you want to evoke? armed with this information my team and i set out to create the perfect oasis for you, reflecting who you are …..but i always like to throw in a little bit of a wild card: something surprising that goes a little bit beyond, but adds that extra je ne sais quoi to your home.

but the place where a client’s personality really shines is through the accessorizing. one of the first things we’ll do at that stage is what i call ‘shop from home,’ where we’ll discuss what meaningful or personal items you’d like showcased in your home. whether that’s art, an antique toy collection, a sentimental vase, pillows, or photographs. i’ve often asked clients to send me a dropbox link to photographs they’ve wanted to display in their home but haven’t yet, and we’ll shop for frames for the prints. it’s our priority to make the space about you, your family, and your needs!

 

 

bridgehampton master bedroom with wooden beams, 36" round ligth fixture. masculine design. - darci hether new york
bridgehampton master bedroom

5. hiring an interior designer is expensive (and an interior designer only relates to the interior of my home)

when you’re hiring an interior designer, we’re not just thinking about the interior dimensions of your home—we always measure the hallways, corners, freight elevators, door frames… because what good is a beautiful design if we can’t physically get that stunning custom sofa or 6-burner wolf range into your space? here in new york city, that can be a big challenge. everyone remembers the scene in ‘friends’ with ross shouting “pivot” and the couch gets stuck in the stairwell! when you hire an interior designer, you get the peace of mind that those mistakes will be avoided and handled professionally so you don’t have to suffer the consequences.

that can be true when you’re not in manhattan as well! on my bridgehampton project, for instance, there was a very large, round light fixture we were set to install in the master bedroom (photo above). it was about 32-36″ in diameter, and we knew ahead of time that the only way to get it into the space was to hoist it over the balcony and through the sliding glass doors. it would not have fit through the hallway, and it would not have fit through any of the other bedrooms doorways. thanks to my team and extensive measurements and planning, we were able to avoid a sticky situation.

one of my objectives as an interior designer is to keep the strain of a renovation off your shoulders. my team and i manage the project from top to bottom, place and track all of your orders (oh so many orders…), triple check measurements, coordinate a team of industry professionals (that i’ve vetted carefully!), and consolidate all your billing. this saves you time, money, and oh so much stress. (more time for that glass of bubbly?)

so is hiring an interior designer more expensive than doing it yourself? that depends! how much money do you think would it cost you in whiskey, marriage counseling, and therapy bills? (i joke… sort of.)

 

 

central park west kitchen black and white floral wallpaper - darci hether new york - interior design
central park west

so is it worth it?

well, that’s up to you and your circumstances. but if you’re looking for a striking, well-designed home, an interior designer can be a valuable asset. you’re not just hiring someone to “make pretty”—you’re hiring a project manager with extensive expertise in the field, connections to stunning pieces and professionals, with a strong vision and the ability to create a space that is as surprising as it is beautiful.

the kind of help a designer can provide is more varied than you might think! every designer works differently, and while our specialty is full-service design, that’s not always the right option for every project. for those other projects, we offer a ladder of services with a lot of possibilities to suit your needs.

full service – this is our specialty! i love providing that showstopping, turn-key moment. our full service design manages the project from top to bottom so you don’t have to. we’ll handle every twist and turn through the process, saving you time and money. i’ve talked about my full service projects on the blog before: if you want to learn more about what it’s like to be a full service client, check out the behind-the-scenes on my recent florida project!

designer-on-call – this is ideal if you feel confident managing the project, but want a professional consultant on hand. we’ll be available to help prevent costly mistakes and guide you toward choices that will suit your space and your lifestyle. you’re in control, but we’re here to help. this could be as small as a one-off consultation to get you started, or it could be a full scale design with you in charge of placing the orders and implementing the installations.

finishing touches – your home is almost done but just needs that extra little push with decor, accessories, lamps, and more to take it to the next level. we help you select artwork and shop for your finishing touches that will style your home to impress.

 

do you have any questions about working with an interior designer? would you like to learn more about our process? comment below or contact me!

 

cheers ~ darci

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