The Pros and Cons of Hiring an Interior Designer for Your Custom Home

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June 16, 2023
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Arbor Builders
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The Pros and Cons of Hiring an Interior Designer for Your Custom Home

A custom-built home is the best option if you want a home that fits your lifestyle and taste. It also happens to be the most satisfying to own. You finally have a chance to live the way you always envisioned.

At the same time, a custom home requires more work to plan and build than a turnkey home. You will need to work more closely with your architect and contractor to bring your vision to life and navigate important structural or aesthetic considerations along the way. You will also need to make material decisions throughout the home, such as flooring, tile, fixtures, and cabinet finishes, in addition to some more unique aesthetic choices from your custom home that can be tricky and time-consuming to solve.

Not everyone has an eye for design and excels at making quick decisions to maintain a smooth and timely build – especially when juggling other responsibilities. Here is where an interior designer can help. You get professional assistance creating a gorgeous and functional home while maintaining that all-important timeline. Along the way, you gain unique solutions you hadn’t thought of and enjoy other benefits beyond design.

Still, not all interior designers are created equal, and hiring one comes with considerations worth knowing before you start. Here are the benefits and challenges of working with interior designers that are worth knowing before you sign that design contract.

Pros of Hiring an Interior Designer

Here are the top reasons why you benefit from an interior designer:

Design Expertise

For a designer, a home is a bit like a three-dimensional painting, which is more complicated than a 2D canvas. In addition to color, balance, and proportion, they pay attention to texture, movement, functionality, and home styling so that you have the best design for your home.

Their talent, training, and experience also mean designers often see things you can’t regarding a home’s final look. They catch issues early on and bring alternative solutions to avoid slowing the build.

They Know How to Design to Your Taste

Part of an interior designer’s job is to listen. They learn about you and your needs and make them happen while ensuring the home is beautiful and functional. They can follow your lead and combine and use their expertise to create a design that speaks best for you. If you prefer, they can take on all the design decisions and keep you abreast of things along the way.


Interior designers often bring out the best in a home. They maximize each space’s potential and know how to work with unconventional or awkward spaces to make them feel comfortable and purposeful. Their talent and history often lead to solutions and ideas you would never have imagined when handling the work yourself.

They Keep the Process Fun

A job site may be stressful for you, but for them, it is part of their everyday world – and many love what they do. They know how to navigate the design world to address and solve issues faster and less stressful while making the design and build process more fun for you.

They Save You and Your Contractor Time

One aspect of an interior designer’s job is to ensure you have a completed home on time. You and your contractor gain an expert to bounce ideas and help solve issues during production that speed up fixes and keep the job on course.

You also have a person who knows the best options for furniture, accessories, and other décor items to meet your design needs and deadlines, saving you time and hassle from having to research and shop independently. You can concentrate on other details and maintain a clearer view of the project quality without agonizing over every little thing.

They Help Ensure a Quality Build

Sometimes construction issues come up that lead to a less-than-desirable look. Some contractors focus on maintaining a tight schedule for ideal profits, which can lead to problems in craftsmanship if your contractor is less-than-reliable. If you spot the issue yourself, the contractor may try to avoid redoing it, telling you the problem can’t be fixed due to some structural issue.

An experienced designer will see right through this and work with them to ensure the home looks the way it should while maintaining a team-like atmosphere. They may even provide easy and fast solutions the contractor may not have considered to keep the job moving. Designers often catch the issues early when the problems are easiest to address.

They Often Save You Money

Designers save you money in many ways:

  • They know where to shop to get the best deals
  • They get designer discounts and may extend them to you (depending on your contract agreement)
  • They have access to resources not available to the general public
  • Sometimes their frequency in ordering with a particular vendor leads to special pricing you would not have had on your own

They May Have Worked With Your Builder Before

This is beneficial in terms of communication and budgeting. Your interior designer will know what issues contractors fall into most and vice versa. The contractor will also understand what the designer values most and can plan accordingly to ensure you get the quality work your designer needs.

A strong relationship between the designer and builder also leads to a happier, less stressful, and more team-focused build.

They Make the Most of Your Budget

Interior designers know where and how to allocate funds so that you can create the best possible look within your budget. They know which items and areas should be the best quality and which can be done more economically while still achieving a beautiful home.

Cons of Hiring an Interior Designer

Though the list of benefits above is long, some issues come along with working with an interior designer worth knowing:


Though a designer can save you money, their fee can be high, which can increase your budget. This is especially true of a designer with a reputation for quality, high-end design.

One way around this issue is to work with a design-build company with a design team. They often offer pre-selected design solutions you can view in photos or inside a sample home or showroom. For custom homes, they can suggest materials selections that work best for you and at varying price points to suit your budget, and they may get the same discounts from vendors as your designer would.

Even if you use an outside designer for specific aspects of the home, a quality and experienced design-build company also knows how to work with them as a team to ensure you have a home you love. This makes a design-build company an ideal place to start.

Less Control Over Design Decisions

A talented designer can pivot their vision here and there to accommodate your needs. Still, you may have to surrender certain aspects of your home’s design to ensure the full vision comes into place to save time, keeping the cost of using your designer down.

A High-Maintenance Designer Can Lead to Issues for You and Your Contractor

Some designers have a very acute eye and take their work seriously, but this can lead to some bumpy roads with you and contractors if your designer is too demanding. When a designer is on board, a contractor has less ability to cut corners (a good thing), but designers can be overly demanding, too. Time is money for contractors, and they need to be able to do what they are hired to do with as little interference as possible.

A designer with elevated tastes can also pressure you to increase your budget. Beautiful design is what everyone wants, but costs range significantly, and some items can often be overpriced – especially name-brand options. Designers may push you to achieve a certain status they want for your home and their portfolios, and that status can come at a significant cost.

Strategies for Staying Within Budget When Using an Interior Designer

Here are some ways to maintain that all-important budget:

  • Set a realistic budget for your project and be clear with your designer about budget limitations.
  • Discuss the balance between what needs to be high quality and what may not.
  • If you have furniture you love or heirloom pieces, see if the designer can incorporate them.
  • Have regular budget meetings and keep a sharp eye on all invoicing.

Tips for Finding a Reliable and Experienced Interior Designer 

Here are some ways to find a quality and reliable designer who works well with you and your contractor.

Do the Research and Ask for References

Talk to people who have hired the designer and ask about their experience. You can ask friends, neighbors, other homeowners, or even your builder. Most people are happy to give their advice and thoughts. If the designer has worked with your builder before, you stand to benefit since they know how each other works and how to complete jobs on time.

Additionally, check with people who have completed custom homes using the design-build company’s internal design team.

Ask for a Portfolio

Interior designers have a picture book or website showing their prior work done in the past. Reviewing them gives you a good idea of what styles they specialize in, their overall sense of design, and their experience in homes like yours.

Have Deep Discussions Before You Start

Communicate your vision clearly and ask lots of questions. You will gain an understanding of their expertise and if their personality and work ethic works well with you and your contractor. Ask questions about their design style, approaches to design, experience working on similar homes, and fee structure. Be sure to ask for references as well.

Request a Written Contract

Interior designers often work by contract because it benefits them as much as you. Ensure that the agreement clearly outlines their services, deadlines, and liabilities to avoid issues down the road.

Make Sure the Designer is Insured

Issues at homes can come from the designer’s work, such as damage to the house from furniture installations or custom cabinetry work. In some cases, a designer’s laborer may not be insured, which then puts the liability on the designer.

With or Without a Designer, Arbor Builders is Here

If you plan to build a custom home in the Bend area, Arbor Builders is ready to help, and you benefit from our experience. We produce all levels of homes, from fully-custom homes to semi-custom and turnkey models, to help you achieve a home that fits your needs at a budget that works best for you.

If you hire an interior designer, we will know how to work well with them and ensure you get the look you and your designer need, all while ensuring the all-important factor of timing. We may have worked with them before, making the entire process easier.

If your budget doesn’t allow for an interior designer, our onboard design team will help you make design and material decisions. With all services under one roof, we offer the benefits of streamlined options for design choices, approvals, and implementation and assistance with making and securing design choices outside our primary selection. We often get similar discounts as interior designers, helping you save even more. And since our design team is in-house, you enjoy an ultra-smooth build.

However you prefer to work, we’re ready to build you a beautiful and functional custom to live and work. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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