One of the scariest yet most rewarding projects you can take on this year is renovating your home. What makes it intimidating though is that you’ll need to do a lot of research, bargain-hunting, and decision-making.
January: Visualize. Interior decorator Ampy Galvez says the very first step is to know what you want to do with your house. “This way, you can help the designer with your own ideas.” Stock up on home magazines, scour the Web, check out furniture shops and friends’ houses for ideas. Devote this month to inspiration. “But if you are clueless, you can ask the designer to submit several choices for you to choose from,” she reassures.
February: Look for a designer. Most people ask friends for referrals, but you can also check out the Philippine Institute of Interior Designers website (PIID) for a list of all the licensed interior designers in the country, or call them at (02) 519.3672. You can also look through home magazines that feature different designers and their work.
How to narrow down your list? Interior designer April Sim Alcantara suggests the following:
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Look for a licensed designer. “This assures that the person has background and technical know-how,” she explains. “It’s not just about taste and matching colors. One needs to know the lighting, distances, human measurements, safety standards, etc.”
Ask for a portfolio. Besides meeting to see if you’re on the same wavelength, check out the designer’s work. “This can be tricky,” warns Alcantara. “We’re trained to match the style of the client, so sometimes the design is based on the client’s and not the designer’s taste.”
Check your budget. “PIID has standard rates, and we’re all encouraged to follow them to protect the industry,” says Alcantara. Designers who have been in the business longer charge higher than those who are just starting out.
Ask about his working style. Make sure your styles match. “Some designers don’t want to make working drawings,” says Alcantara. These are very important because the contractor will need them, plus they show you the proper spacing and sizes of your furniture and living spaces.
March: Meet with your designer. Cindy Tuazon*, marketing manager, mom to six-year-old John*, was very detailed when she talked to her designer. “I gave a description of the look and feel of the house I wanted - down to the specifics per area,” she says. “I identified what each room was for and the type of furniture I liked - including pegs and inspiration of the finishing, color scheme, and furniture.”
Alcantara says your designer should submit a floor plan and a shortlist of contractors.