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architectural visualiser george nicola

By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

One frequently asked question I receive from homeowners I have worked with over the years is how my house designer profession unfolded.

This question is usually followed by a series of inquiries about how they can design their houses by themselves (offsetting the job of house designers) without hiring an expert or going through the lengthy and costly process of getting a design-related degree. 

As a professional interior designer, I want to assure you that you can design your house according to your preferences and to the best of your abilities via the do-it-yourself (DIY) process. You do not need to be an artistically gifted genius or graduate from a very expensive school for design since you aim to design your own house.

All you need is commitment and dedication to the process, which holds most homeowners from doing that.

This article will provide information about the responsibilities and description of a home designer, an action list to become a home designer, and the essential skills you need to develop.

Who/What is a House Designer?

To put this into perspective, let’s define what designers do in general irrespective of their industry.

A designer is an individual who skillfully creates a master plan of the appearance or moving parts of tangible or intangible objects before they are constructed or assembled. These could be products, games, graphics, events, services, procedures, laws, and even experiences. 

Therefore, a house designer plans how a residential structure would look by making strategic decisions on the layouts, the use of space, the most suitable materials to use, and selecting the best way to remodel it. They also customize designs as per the needs of specific properties, determine the purpose of rooms, and offer ideas on decor. 

interior_designers_desk_with_drawings
Home designer's desk depicting the process of ideation

What are the House Designer’s responsibilities

Active Bidding

A bid refers to a commitment that the designer will do the work for a specific amount. If clients have questions about the magnitude of design work and the output expected, the designer usually comes up with a proposal and discusses it with them.

In simple terms, house designers are responsible to prioritize the need to reach out to potential clients because they are the lifeblood of their professions. 

Today, a number of house designers either work for companies that provide design services or are self-employed.

Either way, the only way to attract new business is by seeking opportunities to make active bids. House designers who actively bid for projects know precisely the services they will perform along with their probable costs dictated by the local market.

Conducting Meetings to Discuss Design Requirements

Once a client accepts a bid from a designer, it is the designer’s responsibility to seek a productive conversation about how their ideas will be implemented in their living spaces.

Many designers take this as an opportunity to meet the clients physically or online, which is very important in helping them visualize what they want to be fixed in their living space.

Carrying out meetings with potential clients who accept your bids not only opens up more opportunities for bidding for other contracts but also provides you with a platform for discussing possible home design projects that would scale up your design business.

Calculating Costs and Time Estimates

Keeping the money topic alive is a large part of the house designer’s responsibilities.

Once the client is content with the designer’s skills and execution plan, they will automatically be interested in the cost of the design project under discussion. In most cases, the designer will give a rough estimate on the spot based on the limits of the client’s budget.

After conducting in-depth research in the local market on the cost of remodeling, a detailed breakdown may be required so that the clients know what to expect in terms of finances. Besides, the designer will provide a well-thought-out timeline for completing the design project.

Accurately Measuring Dimensions of Home Spaces

Measure each room in a home gives house designers the parameters for various elements, such as fittings, furniture, and other vital features.

Knowing the basic dimensions (length, width, height, and breadth) of various parts of an interior space helps a designer combine ideas into something organized. Often, designers use a measuring tape or phone app, paper, a pencil/pen, and a camera/smartphone.

Working with Construction and Installation Experts

House designers rarely work alone, especially when they are keen to deliver the best possible version of their clients’ visualization of their home spaces.

As such, they actively liaise with various construction and installation experts including virtual stagers, architects, interior designers, builders, engineers, plumbers, landscapers, and many others deemed important for the completion of the design project.

Finding Timely Solutions to Unforeseen Design Problems

Don’t be fooled! No design project under the sun usually goes smoothly from the beginning to the end. I’m not a naysayer here.

To put this into perspective, a designer and a client may see things differently, and this would call for revisions here and there along the process.

The designer must find timely solutions to such problems, especially when the clients want them fixed at short notice.

Helping Clients Select Appropriate Design Elements

House designers have the skills and experience to help their clients choose the most fitting design features, including furnishings, colors, textures, fabric styles, etc.

Their good judgment can effortlessly visualize the project and guide their clients to make informed decisions that work best for the project.

How to Become a Home Designer

Register for Online Home Design Courses

Becoming a home designer is more about having the requisite knowledge to carry out DIY projects without a degree certificate.

Today, many professionals allied to the real estate business offer consultation services packaged as online home design courses thanks to the internet.

Therefore, you can hone your home design skills by registering with them for a small fee.

Some of the very popular resources are:

*Be cautious when signing up for online courses, as more than half are recycled content that can be found for free

Skillshare

home-design-classes-skillshare
LINK: Skillshare

Domestika

home-design-classes-domestika
LINK: Domestika

Upskillist

home-design-classes-upskillist
LINK: Upskillist

Build Your Portfolio

This step may not apply to you if your aim is only to design your own house.

In case you are not ready to start designing your house but want to test your newly acquired skills, you can take up pro bono projects.

This is one of the key ways of building portfolio when a new designers enter the market, so why not do as they do?

Start locally or with your friends by offering your services for free, and always inform them that you are just beginning. Designing other people’s homes comes with its own risks, so it’s always a good idea to be more cautious.

Pro Tip: Prioritize trying out wide-ranging design project tasks.

Stay very involved in every operation done on-site.

Take photos of the project’s existing (before) condition and compares them with the finished product.

Keep the finished designs organized, so later you can draw inspiration for your project and also show the range of your skills to other prospective homeowners.

Build Your Network

This step may not apply to you if your aim is only to design your own house.

Networking not only introduces you to new potential clients but also exposes your design skills to the right people. In addition, visiting business networking events will get you familiar with all local tradesmen which later may come in handy with you starting with your own project.

To build your network, consider joining groups or attending events that give you opportunities to interact with people in the design business. Some include:

  • Industry-specific seminars 
  • Social media groups
  • Recommendations from family, friends, and colleagues. 

Work for an Expert/Get Your Hands Dirty With Decorating

To hone your skills further and build your design confidence, you have to go out there and create some designs!

A great way to do so is to work under an expert designer, even if it means you are not getting paid.

Some designers out there are looking to take passionate designers under their wing to show them the details of the job and sharpen their industry skills.

Since this is a win-win situation, it is advisable to start volunteering locally!

Learn More About 3D Visualization & Presentation

3D visualization or 3D rendering is the method by which things are designed using 3D computer graphics.

Today 90% of professionals and non-professionals utilize the software for their projects. It is practical and flexible and makes you work smart but not hard.

One of the benefits for homeowners without design skills is that the design and visualization software removed the need for artistic drawing skills, which has been a significant element for designers in the past.

It would help if you learned more about 3D visualization because it will help you detect internal design problems before the actual design takes place. This will ensure that the final design is free from errors that you might overlook in the process.

To show off the unique details of your latest interior design project to potential or existing clients, 3D rendering comes in handy.

Since 3D rendering can be complex for home designers just starting, collaborating with an expert 3D renderer is an added advantage since they can show you how to tweak various designs to give it the best output. In short, 3D rendering is the future of interior design.

Continue Your Education

Even if you initially decided to be a DIY home designer, we recommend that you continue your education.

This is because once you build an impressive portfolio and network, you’ll attract attention from big companies that’ll need to see your certifications and licenses.

Don’t leave such lucrative opportunities unattended. Register for a design-related course in a reputable institution.

6 Crucial Skills for House Designers

Unequaled Creativity

Most top-of-the-food-chain home designers are renowned for their unrivaled creativity. In other words, they can see the unseen and execute tasks that ordinary designers cannot.

For instance, they can ingeniously make a living space more functional per the client’s desires.

Every person possesses the ability to create things that no other can do; simply by engaging in the process of education for design, you may unlock your hidden abilities that will propel you further beyond the design of your personal property.

Out-of-the-box Imagination

Home designers often figure out their clients thought processes to create living spaces out of empty rooms or disorganized plans.

This involves intellectual imagination that can only be implemented after seeing the clear picture of possible design ideas.

Technological Know-how

To design your house to the best possible high-quality and affordable specifications, you, as a house designer, will need to constantly tap into digital technologies, materials, and optimization of construction processes.

This increases cost-efficiency and facilitates quick completion of designs with fewer mistakes, budget planning, and client communication.

Patience Pays

The home design process can be prolonged and draining, which calls for high levels of patience, especially for homeowners trying to play the role of a designer.

In the course of the project, clients (your family) may require many alterations to the original requirements, which can lead to unforeseen interruptions; therefore, you must produce a project checklist and process stages.

interior_design_drawing_moodboard
Four sets of interior drawings of one space

Pro Tip: A non-software approach

Generate and compile research in advance, including photographs of the existing conditions of your place, drawings, and notes, all in one place. Then, if you have not engaged with 3D software at this point, start playing different scenarios with the information.

Investigate and study the building, spaces, and junctions, and work backward to find the essence of the concept idea you want to achieve.

Choose the style of drawings and sketches you feel best to communicate your research. Look at how materials will coexist with the structural elements of the building (windows, doors, stairs, openings). 

Group everything into different ideas and then combine the various groups into one prominent idea – approach.

Deconstruct the geometry of the building to a bare minimum and indicate with simple lines and annotation. Combine the details from the groups as mentioned above using photo cutouts. Re-use the cutouts to re-trace new options using a tracing paper. 
Express your material ideas, texture and colors using the cut-out approach and merge them with the rest of the drawings.

Be bold and try as many options as you can, you never know when you can experience “design accident” where trial and error leads to finding answers.

Design courage

Do not feel discouraged if you keep making mistakes or do not conclude projects quickly.

Mistakes are there to learn from them and improve your creative thinking, so prepare and take risks. Happy accidents solve more than 60% of the design questions and tasks. Problems are our partners, not our enemies.

interior_design_happy accidents
Happy accident - two different sets of design scheme proposals

Pro Tip: Design accidents
Design accidents are events where an interior or architectural problem is solved by coincidence or trial an error process. This is a typical part of the design process for every designer and architect.

Outstanding Customer Service

This step may not apply to you if your aim is only to design your own house.

Successful house designers are renowned for putting their client’s needs first and effortlessly adjusting to additional requests or obstacles during the project.

This requires a top-notch customer service mindset to ensure that the clients are satisfied with the outcomes.  

Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners can design their houses to the best of their abilities via the DIY process.  
  • House designers plan how a residential structure would look by making strategic decisions on the layouts, the use of space, materials to use, etc.
  • Becoming a home designer is more about having the requisite knowledge to carry out DIY projects without even having a degree certificate.

George Nicola

VIRTUAL STAGING EXPERT / After eight years+ working in high-end design and property business I realised that we are missing a critical part of the property business. We were not providing enough value to these old and empty properties. Not every buyer would have the opportunity to see the potential of vacant property or in a bad state. The idea of Virtual Furniture Staging the property gives the buyer and seller an incredible chance in seconds of taking the critical decision.
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