Strategies For Home Remodeling Projects In A Tough Economy

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Interior Designer?

Interior designers bring a lot of value to a home renovation or decorating project by helping their clients pinpoint their vision, inspiring them with the possibilities and managing all the details that will bring their dream to life. But how much does it cost to hire one?

The truth is that interior design fees vary — not only by firm but also by the scope of the project and the area where you live. To get a sense of the range, we interviewed 16 interior designers across the country. Here are some basics to know about what interior designers do and the cost of hiring one to work with you.

What Do Interior Designers Do?

Interior designers provide a range of services that take a project from dream to completion. They:

Create design concepts. Designers help their clients by developing a design concept, which includes the style, mood, color and functional goals for the project. They may use a combination of inspiration images and product samples to convey their ideas to you as you settle on a vision.

Create design plans. Next, designers turn that vision into a plan. They may recommend a specific layout for a new kitchen or map out how furniture and accessories will be arranged in a room. Some designers provide detailed 3D drawings of their plans, or they may work with an architect and engineers to produce these drawings. Some states have a certification or licensing process for designers and regulate the scope of structural work that designers may take on. Not all states require certification or licensing for pros working in residential design. However, these credentials can be one way to gauge a pro’s level of experience and knowledge.

Establish a realistic budget and help the client stick with it.

Select and design products, finishes and materials for the project. This can be anything from recommending paint colors to choosing a species of wood for the floor to suggesting specific storage details (lazy Susans or baking sheet storage) for inside your kitchen cabinets. This work is often more involved than selecting ready-made products and materials from retailers. Many designers work with manufacturers to create custom furniture pieces and window treatments for their clients. Often, these manufacturers work only with the trade (not directly with homeowners), so designers are able to select fabrics and custom detailing that make these pieces unique. Similarly, designers may work with cabinetmakers to design customized storage solutions for their clients.

How to Add On to Your Kitchen

A cramped kitchen can make even the most basic cooking and entertaining tasks challenging. If your home’s footprint isn’t quite enough to get the kitchen you crave, it may be time to add on. We caught up with interior designer Summer to get the scoop on time frames, permits and finding the right pro for the (big) job

How to Add More Space to Your Kitchen

The kitchen is often the hub of the home, and having a roomy and thoughtfully designed space is at the top of many homeowners’ wish lists.

Do you need a kitchen addition? If you are tired of living with a cramped kitchen that doesn’t function as it should, you can afford to invest in a new space and you plan to stay in your home long enough to enjoy all the work an addition entails, then a kitchen addition may be a good project for you.

A design pro can work with you to design a new kitchen that blends with your home’s overall architecture and that fits your personal style and your life. “Some of the most dramatic transformations happen when you expand the footprint of a home,”

Whom to hire. An interior designer, kitchen designer, architect or building designer can help see your project through from start to finish, including planning the addition, getting permits, choosing fixtures and finishes, and overseeing installation.

How to Refine Your Renovation Vision to Fit Your Budget

Matching your renovation dreams and dollars can sometimes feel like a challenge. But there’s a lot you can do to get the look you want at the right price. In the first story in this series, we laid out the steps in choosing the pros you will work with and setting an initial budget.

Here we’ll focus on how to work with your professionals to sharpen your renovation vision, understand its realistic cost, and refine the plan to match your budget when necessary.

Create Your Dream Plan

Once you’ve chosen the pro (or pros) who’ll be designing and drafting your renovation plan, you’ll move into a deeper conversation about your vision. To prepare, make a list of the things that are driving you crazy about your house. Collect images of homes that inspire you. Your chosen architect, designer or builder will likely ask you a range of questions about how you use the space and how you live day to day. He or she will also want to get a sense of the materials and styles you prefer.

These initial conversations are invaluable as architects and designers work through the stages of a project, from initial design plans to final drawings and permitted plans. This design-then-revise process is key to creating a plan you love — that also matches your budget. And it’s part of why coming up with a new home or renovation plan takes time

The next step is getting a measured drawing that shows the home’s existing conditions, or an accurate rendering of the house as it stands before renovation. “We measure the whole house and get an electronic copy,”

What to Know About Adding a Porch

When the weather is good it can be nice to get outside, whether dining at an outdoor table or sipping a beverage on a comfy chair as you watch the sun go down. And what better place to enjoy activities like these than from the comfort of your own porch?

Here’s what to know about working with a pro to build a porch on your home — including what to look for in a contractor and how much the project might cost. While it’s probably too late to get your porch built in time to enjoy this summer, now is a great time to get started so your porch will be ready for next spring.

What Is a Porch?

A porch has a floor, a roof and some sort of supports that hold the roof up. The roof is what makes a porch different from a deck — and it’s actually a pretty important distinction because if improperly engineered or installed, a roof could eventually sag or even, under extreme weather circumstances, collapse

Though many people think of a porch as an elevated platform with stairs that lead up to it, a porch doesn’t need to be raised off the ground or have stairs. Porches can have a variety of flooring types. They can be attached to the front, side or back of a home. These days, porches are used for more than just sitting: People equip them with dining tables, fireplaces, ceiling fans and even TVs.

What to Consider Before You Build a Porch

Is a porch allowed on my home? Check with your homeowners association, as not all neighborhood regulations allow porches to be built on existing homes. Associations may forbid adding porches to connected or disconnected townhomes, or other multifamily dwellings. “It’s also a good idea to check with your setbacks and deed restrictions,”

What to Know About Engineered Wood Floors

If you’re on the hunt for a long-lasting floor material with a classic look, you might want to consider engineered wood flooring. This material has the beauty of solid wood and the durability of laminate and can work with most design styles and in many rooms. Here’s what to know to decide whether this flooring choice could be right for your home.

What is engineered wood flooring? Unlike solid wood, engineered wood floors have a top or “wear” layer made of solid wood, which covers a multilayer plywood core. The thickness of the top layer and the core will vary depending on the design and the manufacturer.

In total thickness, engineered wood planks vary from as low-profile as one-quarter inch (6.35 mm) to as thick as three-quarters inch (19 mm, or the traditional thickness of solid-wood flooring). The thickness of the wear layer typically reflects the caliber of the product. The industry norm is 2 to 6 millimeters, with a thicker wear layer generally indicating a more premium product.

How much does engineered wood cost? Engineered wood can be less expensive than solid wood, though premium collections with thick top layers, artistic designs and enhanced durability can have price tags on par with solid wood. Engineered wood flooring materials cost from $3 to $15 per square foot. Installation labor runs $3 to $10 per square foot, depending on the complexity of the layout.

The advantages of engineered wood. Engineered wood flooring is available in a wide range of wood species, including oak, maple, hickory, birch, cherry and walnut, as well as exotic woods like African mahogany and tigerwood. It comes in a variety of widths ranging from slim to wide planks and is offered in specialty looks such as multitone, shown in this photo, or hand-scraped, shown in the previous photo.