Month: April 2014

Ten ways to get the most from an interior designer

If you’re thinking about reworking one or more rooms at home, it’s a great idea to pick the brains of an interior designer.

At Bear Interiors we advise customers all the time, so here’s our guide to the preparation you can do to really get the most from the conversation – and help you decide if you want to buy your interior designer’s services.

Living room of Ducklings Retreat, Cartmel, designed by Bear Interiors

Living room of Ducklings Retreat, Cartmel, designed by Bear Interiors

1. Choose an interior designer whose work you like. Personal recommendations are great if you have friends who wanted something similar to you. Any good designer will show you a portfolio of recent projects and provide you with customer references. If like us they also build and install custom-made furniture, ask to see (and feel!) examples of their wares.

2. Look around for inspiration. Take cuttings from magazines, ask for swatches in wallpaper and fabric shops, and take photos of things you like wherever you go. Even if the features you like would need re-working for your home, they are very useful guides to your taste, the colours you love and the feel you’re after, which aren’t always easy to describe in words.

3. Have a little measure up. Obviously an interior designer will do this thoroughly if you give them your commission, but a sketched floor plan including dimensions will make sure your initial conversation is accurately based on the existing room, its nooks and crannies, and help you illustrate what you’d like it to become. Don’t forget to note the height of the room too.

A rough sketch plan - helping you describe your brief to an interior designer

A rough sketch plan – helping you describe your brief to an interior designer

4. For practical interior design proposals and an idea of costs, it’s important to know if a new design is going to require structural changes like moving utilities, drains, radiators, interior walls or windows, so mark existing positions on your sketched floor plan. If you are having building work done, you may have drawings already, and it’s helpful to have some copies available.

5. If you’re not meeting at home, take along some photos of your existing room to go with your sketch plan – on a phone is fine.

6. Have an idea of maximum budget, and don’t be embarrassed about setting a limit. It’s much better for a designer to know a realistic figure and work within it than to propose something that won’t be affordable, and some are great at suggesting clever cost saving ideas. In working out your budget, have a think about the current value of your home and what your transformation may add to that. As a very rough guide, a newly built kitchen will add an average of 8% to the value of your home, though that varies. It’s not the only consideration and it matters less if you have no intention of moving soon, but it’s sensible not to spend amounts far in excess of what you could recoup.

7. Be ready to share a little information. It won’t get too intimate, but we are talking about your home here, and it needs to reflect who lives there, how you use it and what you like doing. Giving your designer some clues about your lifestyle will help them offer ideas just right for you – whether it’s for a storage unit the right size for fishing rods, a desk to fit a particular alcove, a love for home cinema or enthusiasm for all things tartan. Don’t worry, we interior designers are like doctors, we’ve heard it all!

8. Think about the future. Especially if you’re aiming to stay put in your home, your needs will change. Kids grow up and want media walls instead of play dens. Career changes could require home office space, and retirement opens up new ways of spending time. Family members may need provision for reduced mobility, and even pets have their own accommodation needs. You can’t predict everything but if you share the possibilities with your interior designer, you can create options with greater inbuilt flexibility for change.

A design for a child's room can have inbuilt flexibility for changing needs

A design for a child’s room can have inbuilt flexibility for changing needs

9. Be ready to listen to advice. A good designer will take your brief and add value to it. They may suggest things you didn’t know you could do, or they may come up with a different solution to your design challenge. Don’t be pushed around, but don’t dismiss new ideas out of hand either – ask why they are suggesting something different, and make sure you’re satisfied with the answer. They will have worked on many similar projects and their interior design expertise is what you’re going to be paying for. If they can spot an issue early on and work around it, they may save you a lot of time and trouble.

An initial kitchen design render helps you see in detail what you'll be getting

An initial kitchen design render helps you see in detail what you’ll be getting

10. At the end of your conversation, be clear about what you’d like the interior designer to do. If you want time to think about it or want to talk to another supplier before you decide, that’s fine. If you want your designer to start working on designs for a kitchen, living room or bedroom or the whole house, make sure you’re aware of the costs involved and agree what you’ll get for your money and when. It could be the start of something beautiful for your home!

More information about the Bear Interiors design service

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Hotels, cottages and B&Bs

Hotel and B+B furnishing by Bear Interiors, Bath

Interior design and bespoke furniture for hotels and B&Bs

Hotels and B&Bs interior design has to deliver the same things our homes need to: welcoming, comfortable furnishings which say something good about us.

Of course, the hospitality industry also has an eye to ROI. Our hotel and B&B clients need more items, harder wearing finishes, excellent value and all delivered and installed with minimum disruption.

Many period buildings present particular issues, from oddly-shaped nooks to listed building constraints. And whatever the style, every hotelier wants to offer something a bit stand-out and memorable in terms of fixtures, accessories and fabrics.

Bear Interiors works in partnership with Forest Contracts, a high-quality contract furniture maker with a long hotel interiors  pedigree. Over countless hospitality projects we’ve learned how to help maximise your return on investment, cutting costs in the right places, not the wrong ones. It means we can offer a personal interior design service alongside computer design, 3D modelling, raw material selection and CNC factory production.

We also have dedicated project managers and installation team complete the picture, taking all the strain of delivery management and ensuring the build is efficient, considerate and on schedule. We’re happy to offer a no-obligation consultation if you’d like to contact us.

We work at every scale from hotel chains to individual properties. Here’s one favourite: a one-off interior designed and installed for a beautiful holiday apartment near Cartmel in the Lake District. A simple, warm interior mixed traditional with modern to create a welcoming feel, just the thing after a hard day’s fell walking. Bookings have gone up since!

Living room of Ducklings Retreat, Cartmel, designed by Bear Interiors

Living room of Ducklings Retreat, Cartmel, designed by Bear Interiors

 

Not every log basket is shabby chic

A contemporary log box by Bear Interiors, Bath

A contemporary log box designed and built by Bear Interiors

We really love this beautiful storage box designed and built for a customer recently. They needed something sturdy and long-lasting, which worked alongside some of our built-in shelving, in a home which combines traditional with modern. The usual shabby-chic / basketware look just wasn’t right, but it’s surprisingly difficult to find fireside accessories that are anything else.

The interior lining of metallic flooring is fantastically hardwearing but also injects an industrial, practical edge to this robust piece, ready to hold its own (and the logs!) in an elegant contemporary room.

You don’t have to settle for the wrong style just because the right one is hard to find. You can design your very own one-off piece to fill that empty spot exactly, and love it as much as we love this.

 

 

Contemporary Georgian? No problem

Contemporary storage for a modern orangery - Bear Interiors, BathWorking with a lovely family locally I’m reminded that houses don’t come with instruction manuals. You have to live in a new space, get to know it and what you want from it to really know what you need.

This family’s beautiful home had a stable block which has been converted to include a master bedroom suite, with a newly-built orangery attached. The stately Georgian proportions mean the furnishings need a certain scale and impact, but with new additions, contemporary has to work alongside period. And the fact that it’s a real-life family home means its needs lots of storage including purpose built media space.

Not a solution your average furniture shop can come up with. Here’s where custom-made furnishings can pay off, and where the investment in interior design time is really worth while – not just a few sketches, but a slow evolution of ideas over weeks and months.

It’s worth spending the time living with an idea, exploring and improving ways to get the final delivery right, and that’s what happened with this family as they were getting to know their extended home afresh.

It’s nice when an idea is spot-on first time, but it rarely works that way. As a client, you have the right to take an idea away and live with it for a while before you come back with refinements that make it perfect – for you.

There’s more about our approach and lots of design ideas at www.bear-interiors.co.uk

Wardrobes and desk by Bear Interiors, Bath

Built-in wardrobe space and freestanding bureau desk for master bedroom

Custom made media unit by Bear Interiors, Bath

A freestanding media unit with concealed cable management