Sunday, 17 July 2011

Interior design & money

How expensive is in fact interior design? This is a question that comes with the idea that "this is just too expensive and normal people can't afford it". There's some truth in this especially if as a reference you have interior design magazines and expensive brands. And also if you hear "expensive" when someone says "design".
First you need to know that magazines as a rule show the best of the best. Which, normally "no one" can afford. But think about paintings. Art can be really expensive, but... if you can't have a Kandisnky maybe you can buy a good quality print of one of his paintings. I'll give more thought on this ahead.
 Now, design and what people relate to it is a subject that can be confusing. The fork you use to eat has design. It has a shape that's based by its function. And there are many brands and designs of forks. The difference between forks can be found in the materials, quality inox lasts a life and or the shape, some are thinner others heavier. Other examples: real wood shelves won't curve with the weight of books so easily, kitchen cabinets lacquered with a good washable material will last longer and maintain the original look and even the stone on the kitchen balcony not only lasts a life but also makes working in the kitchen an easier job. These are simple examples of how the cost means better quality and sometimes a more practical use of the space or an easy way to perform a task. But the price you pay includes the cost of creativity and work put into the studying of the product design, the materials and the exclusivity of the product. Here you have to think about the value you give to a piece of furniture or an object. For example, if a brand sells a bed for €50.000 that's because they know someone will pay that amount of money. It can be questionable, yes, but that's how business works. And if it is an important brand/name they will make you pay that price of the label even if the consumer price is 500% above the cost of making the product. I'm not saying that what they sell does not have quality, because it probably has, but I would never buy a pillow for €500 like the one I saw in a shop I worked. Everybody wants to be rich and designers are not an exception and if they set the price high they want you to perceive them as exclusive.
Interior designers also tend to pass the image that their services are exclusive and expensive because they have clients that pay for it. They set the value of their services and clients just go with it. Some designers are really great and just a day with them can be motivating. And if there's lots people who want to hire them, their hour will value even more and cost more for the clients. This is the rule. 
In my opinion they don’t want you to know that a big part of their job can be done by you. It’s like when someone just complicates a subject so you will feel totally ignorant and almost afraid to ask anything about it. Of course interior design has something to do with taste, but I believe there’s a lot of information these days and if you’re interested you don’t have to hire an interior designer to do everything. A professional can guide you and help you with his experience and solutions. For me, this is the future of interior design for the common, not rich people. 
But there are cheaper interior design services (normally done by younger professionals) and I find more and more services adapted to the needs of clients. The financial crisis around the world also helps because there are fewer clients and professionals need to open up for new targets. But interior design is so associated with elitism that it can be hard to change mentalities and opinions.
 “But if I don’t have enough money what can I buy?” Well, everybody needs some basic stuff: bed, sofa, towels, dishes, bookshelves... There's a big list I know. But these are the items you find whatever the house you go. But what if you plan a little and make some choices not just based on the price? If you can't, you can't, but sometimes is just a matter of putting some thought into it and if price limits you that much maybe you could wait and sleep just on the mattress for a few more months and buy the bed you really want. It’s about choosing and not content yourself with anything. One golden rule is just to buy things you love. If you want to have a home, a place where you feel good and comfortable, you want it to have stuff that not only represents you and that tells a story about you but also that makes you feel good. I know lots of people who can’t change the houses they live in (living with parents, rented rooms) and some of them do have the perception of how bad that furniture, patterns, wall colours makes them feel. Interior design is not supposed to be only pretty (that’s decoration in my opinion). It should help you to live your life better inside your house and this can be done with choosing wall colours, defining the layout of the furniture around the place, planning a kitchen with functional storage and easy to clean where tasks are a pleasure… Giving you solutions is the key.
Less is better. Or as the designer Mies Van Der Rohe said once, “Less is more”. Like I said before, why buy the cheapest, ugly bed if sleeping on the mattress a few months will give you the one you really want? Now, do this to everything you need, if you can. Sometimes it seems to me that people are in a hurry to have everything solved and don’t take the time to enjoy the process. Interior design and decorating is a process that some people speed up by paying professionals to do it for them and others just by buying the first thing they see without too much consideration.
It’s not easy to wait for the best time (£€$) and you’ll need to compromise sometimes. And I should say “most of the time”. Perfect houses are boring. No one should want to live in a house that never changes, because when the house does change you’re changing too. Your tastes and your needs are in constant evolution and so should be your house. But if you have planned like I said before, if you change, what happens? I say that you can make miracles with what you have if the “before choices” were good and with what you can afford to buy at the time. But this has to be something that matters to you so you’ll make the effort. You can always move furniture around your house and find new solutions. Paint furniture and just change the fabrics. Most of the times these small steps can be done without spending too much money. And going back to the Kandinsky example I gave in the begging, there are big brands that sell reproductions and copies of original pieces of design. And why not buying these? People tend to think that IKEA just sells bookshelves that will brake 6 months later, but that’s not true, you have quality furniture but you also have to pay a little more. And today there are many shops and internet to choose from which helps a lot.
Personally I hate those houses made by interior designers without much participation of the owners. This normally happens when there’s lots of money involved. It can result intro pretty houses, but they seem a bit fake to me to be honest. I do believe that people should transform apartments and houses into homes and you can just do that by living there and understanding the way you live the space and the needs you have.

The answer to the question: Interior Design can be really expensive, but there are options that will make it affordable. But like everything else some people prefer to spend money on shoes, others on books, concerts, cars, you name it. It’s a matter of choice because normally you can’t have it all. But if you really like interior design and understand that choosing wisely and compromise go together when there’s not a lot to spend I guess you’re on the right direction.
The most important rule: have fun with it:)

Any thoughts about this?

All images are from Sköna Hem and most of them have interesting and not pricey interior design solutions.

1 comment:

  1. No doubt, you are right!! In my house I have things that I brought from my parents house, others from my grandparents house, some were things that nobody wanted and know after painting them or changing its fabric, they look new and people ask me were I bought them!!


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