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Features

With the help of an interior designer, an apartment can become a home. (The St. Regis via The Corcoran Group) With the help of an interior designer, an apartment can become a home. (The St. Regis via The Corcoran Group)
If you’re the type of person who thinks an ideal weekend includes searching for one-of-kind Persian rugs at ABC Carpet or (if on a somewhat tighter budget) wandering around Ikea in search of great Nordic bargains, consider yourself lucky. You are among the few individuals who have the vision and time to tackle interior design projects on your own. Fortunately for everyone else, there are interior designers, and in that respect, you’re in the right place. New York City is home to some of the world’s best interior designers and design schools. This means that whether the sky is the limit or you are scrimping and saving, there is likely a designer ready and willing to help you realize your next interior design project.

How to Find an Interior Designer

While the obvious reason to contract with a designer is aesthetic (interior designers are trained to help people transform their homes and businesses into attractive spaces), they can also help you create more functional spaces. If you are a chronic pack rat, for example, an interior designer can also help you turn your cluttered New York City apartment into a spacious Zen-like environment by offering advice on how to effectively store all your personal items.
TWB Design 1 Courtesy of TWB Design
However, as Teri Brajewski, the founder and lead designer at TWB Design, explains, style and functionality are not the only things that interior designers offer their clients. “Often I find people do not have confidence in their taste and want help and direction,” explains Brajewski. “My clients want to make sure that what they are purchasing has value. They are tired of purchasing pieces that they may like that do not work together. Others want a more personal look, something that is not straight out of Crate & Barrel or Restoration, which is not to say that these retailers can’t be good sources at times.”
Brajewski, who has close to 30 years of experience in residential and commercial design, emphasizes that there is no reason to feel that investing in a designer is a luxury one simply can’t afford: “Realize that you are making an investment in yourself and your home when you hire a designer. Interior design is not just an expense; it is adding value to your home.” For Brajewski, the key is to find a designer who is willing to collaborate. “A designer should help you create your wish list or ‘scope of work,’ and take you from design to bringing the needed resources to execute your project,” she says, “But a designer should also listen and create a project that is a reflection of the client and not just the designer’s taste or trademark look.”
TWB Design Penthouse Teri Brajewski of TWB Design
TWB Design Living Space Teri Brajewski of TWB Design
“Interior design is not just an expense; it is adding value to your home.”
- Teri Brajewski of TWB Design
This raises another key question: If you know nothing about design, how to you begin to find someone who is qualified to help you realize your design dreams? Brajewski emphasizes that finding an experienced and credentialed designer matters. “I think a degree is relatively important, along with experience,” she explains; “Some people can open up shop without a degree or experience, but that is a rare case. Lots of people can have an eye or think they can shop, but there is more to running a project. For example, with the advent of LED lighting, I was harkening back to my classes at FIT to discuss lumens and kelvin—information I gained decades before.”

 
 
 
 
450-East-83rd-Street
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450-East-83rd-Street
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450-East-83rd-Street
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450-East-83rd-Street
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781-Fifth-Avenue
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781-Fifth-Avenue
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781-Fifth-Avenue
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781-Fifth-Avenue
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What to Expect Once You Find an Interior Designer

Once you’ve found a designer, the first step will likely be an on-site consultation. Be prepared to respond to a lot of questions and if you have any images that will help you convey the look you want to achieve, be certain to have these images on hand during the meeting. Sharing your vision in words and images will help your chosen interior designer get a clearer sense of the interior you want to create. Depending on the scope of your project, your initial meeting may also include a detailed discussion of floor plans and finishes.
As you work with your designer, expect more meetings and many more options. It’s their job to not only help you design an ideal space but select all the furnishings, carpets, and accessories that will make these rooms feel like home. A good interior designer will also help you choose what stays and what goes so don’t worry—you likely won’t need to ditch all your family heirlooms in the process.

One important consideration is to establish a clear budget early on. After all, you’ll waste money and time if you don’t provide your contracted interior designer with a clear budget before sending them off to develop the project. As Brajewski emphasizes, “Budgets are a framework to work within. Some projects call for custom pieces while others can come together from finely curated retail sources. Whatever the budget, I really stand behind my tag line ‘Comfort, Style, Function.’ A home or office should be beautiful and work perfectly.”

Interior Designers for Every Budget

For interior design projects on a limitless budget, the best bet is to look for a personal recommendation. If you see an interior that you would love to live in full time, find out who helped create the space. Notably, be on the lookout for great design in both public and private spaces, since many interior designers engage in both commercial and residential projects. If you want to find out who is currently trending in the design world, also check out the winners of the annual NYCxDesign Awards.

For people working on a somewhat more modest budget, word-of-mouth recommendations are also a great place to start. If you don’t have any friends who have recently worked with a designer, try logging on to Houzz. The site not only can put you in touch with interior designers but also contractors and suppliers. There are also a few online interior decorating services like Havenly and Decorist – you can read a review of those and others here.
Finally, if you have a small project—for example, turning a grungy bachelor pad into an acceptable place to host a new romantic interest or a student looking to have a presentable home for an upcoming parental visit—you may not be able to hire your very own interior designer, but you can still find support. As one of the world’s great design capitals, trained designers and self-taught passionate interior decorators are everywhere, even on gig economy platforms like Task Rabbit. Typically charging anywhere from $18 to $30 per hour, these taskers—be certain to look for one with positive decor-related reviews—may not be certified designers or have won any notable design awards but they may still be able to give you the blunt feedback and tips you need to clean up your mess and create a cozy, coordinated, and functional living space.

 
 
 
 
1130-Park-Avenue
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1965-Broadway
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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.
Spacious 1 Bedrooms with outdoor space and in-residence w/d View Property
Luxury Homes in Midtown | Newly Renovated Studio-2BR Homes View Property
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