Our architect experience was as follows, we interviewed a number of architects as we got closer to actually commiting to the project. We hired one whose work we had seen, to do some preliminary drawings so that we could get a better handle on the construction costs. After meeting with us and showing him some of our ideas, we sent him off with a check to his drawing board, we were told he'd get back to us in 2-3 weeks with some rough sketches. One of our fears was that he would try to please us too much and not give us something original. Especially since I had already shown him my computer generated sketches. I did mention multiple times that I was not an architect and that he was the professional, so please come up with a design that he felt suited our needs. 5 weeks later we finally met with him, and the sketches he came back with were so close to the ones that I spent 5 years creating that we could have just as easily shown my drawings to the contractors for bids, which is actually what we did. To follow up with the architect, I just told him that we decided to use a relative for the rest of the project.
And while in the end we didn't have a set architect for the project I did feel somewhat assured that an architect had seen my drawings and they were not ridiculous. In fact going through the whole process of interviewing architects, did give my drawings a fair amount of exposure and I did get a number of suggestions that I then incorporated into our drawings.
Being open to suggestions was crucial to our process. I showed my drawings to many people, friends, professionals, relatives. I got a lot of feedback some useful and some not. Not only was it a helpful process in tweeking the design to best fit our needs, but it also helped create "justified arguements" as to why we wanted various features. Did I really want the Laundry upstairs or downstairs? Which side of the house should we place the Master bedroom? How many bathrooms will we need? Where should the furnace go? Where all examples of questions that were up for debate, that also got enough feedback and thougth put into them. before breaking ground.
I did hire 2 different Interior designers on a consulting basis. Which basically ment I would go to them with my design questions and say for an hour or two of your time, what do you think. I felt this was invaluable, there were times when I would second guess myself and would start hyperventilating about the scope and size of the project that I was taking on myself. It was reasurring to spend a little to get an experenced set of eyes giving me a second or reasurring opinion. Where the hallways wide enough, did the Kitchen space seem functional?
We hired two different types of Interior designers, one was an accredited Designer with a degree in Interior design, she had a realively higher hourly rate, the other was a self made designer who had a good sense of color, at what seemed like a reasonable lower rate. In the end I got a lot of valuable advise from the professional, and I second guessed the self made designer, I also have a good sense of color. It is very important that you feel comfortable with your designer, and that you like their sence of style. At the end of the project I probably spent about 10 hours of Interior Designer time. Money I consider well spent. Of the hours spent with the designer the most were spent with the kitchen. Examples of the type of questions I would ask:
- Are these the right Window sizes taking into consideration the interior and exterior of the house?
- Room and hallway sizes?
- Trim sizes?
- Does the space planning for the kitchen work?
- Cabinet layout ideas?
- Carpet and Wall color second opinions.
Even thought I felt relatively confident that I had a decent sense of color, it saved me a lot of time working with a professional. I would say something like, "I want a sandy nuetral tone," She would confidently say something like, "Monroe Bisque, Benjamin Moore" and there it was a tried and true color we could use. Even a color as simple as the white trim for the outside of the house, I showed her the smokey grey-blue house color, she immediatly said, "White Swan, Benjamin Moore" of course saving me agonizing over the 100's of shades of white at the paint store. For the record there were 3 different white colors used on the trim and cabinets inside our house primarily based on the room color. I picked one, she directed me to the other two.
So here's my list of Architect and Interior Design notes:
- I would never discredit their value, be realistic about your own skills and abilities
- Don't discredit your own skills
- Get lots of opinions, and then listen to the ones you like
- Opinions don't need to only come from professionals
- You can hire a professional on an hourly basis, this might be more cost effective for you.
- Like the person that you are working with, don't put up with a designer that doesn't understand your taste.