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Finding an interior designer for every budget

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Whether you’re building a new home or adding a tile backsplash behind your kitchen sink, you may be overwhelmed by all of the design choices you need to make.

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Will the colors and textures you picked out blend well together in a room, or will it become an expensive design failure?

This is why you may need an interior designer.

Before you start to think that you can’t afford to hire an interior designer, you may want to consider the benefits.

You might be sinking tens of thousands of dollars into your home with new carpeting, tile, hardwood flooring and window treatments. Why not hire a specialist, someone who has a keen eye for selecting the best colors, patterns and materials, who will leave you feeling confident that you’ve made the right decisions?

Do you have the time to go store-to-store, researching the latest design trends and colors? Wouldn’t it be easier to have someone else do all that legwork for you, presenting to you a few ideas that fit your personality and style?

Before you walk out and hire the first interior designer you find, keep in mind that there are different types of designers for every budget and project. A designer may only work with the foundations — your cabinets, countertops, window treatments and floor coverings — and others may specialize in furniture and accessorizing your home.

How tight is your budget? If you can’t afford quality custom-made furniture or original artwork, some designers may not be a fit for you. On the other hand, if you wish to commission one-of-a-kind artwork and sculptures for your retirement home, there is an interior designer out there for you.

Many interior designers offer free consultations, giving you the opportunity to get to know them and their work. It’s a good idea to put together a list of what your design needs are, and what you’re willing or able to spend on the project. Some designers charge an hourly design fee, while others charge per project.

Ann and Doug Johnson, owners of Personality+ in Nisswa, buy furniture and flooring directly from manufacturers, and usually work on retainer, giving homeowners an estimate of how much time is involved with the project.

Ann Johnson said she often takes potential clients through their personal home to give them an idea of their personal tastes. She described her style as traditional, classic lake home, but with a bit of whimsy and flair. She works with local artisans and craftsmen to create original artwork, designs and furniture pieces to make each home unique and beautiful.

“It’s a collaboration of locals supporting a local, that’s at my core, rather than ordering from China,” Johnson said. “I don’t like cheap furniture, and I like to work with local contractors.”

The Johnsons can track down vintage design pieces and create the look and style you want in your home. She recently commissioned a local artist to paint a fox on tile that will be used in a kitchen backsplash in a lake home. She has several artists who do work for her, taking her design ideas and making an original piece you’ll enjoy for years to come.

“I take pride in ingenuity and inventiveness, and coming up with something that no one else has,” Johnson said with a smile.

Julie Gowen, owner and designer at JAG Interior Solutions in Crosslake, specializes in a home’s foundations, such as window treatments, flooring, tile, cabinets and countertops. She has her own showroom, and works with quality manufacturers that she trusts. She will often work with a client for nine to 18 months as they build a home, measuring their rooms for the carpeting and flooring, as well as helping to select and install the window treatments.

Gowen doesn’t work with furniture or home accessories, mainly because she doesn’t have the showroom space to display it properly. She’ll often refer clients to other designers if they want that type of design help.

However, no client’s project is too big or too small. Gowen said she works with clients who need an entire home done, or who need help on a small project. Some of her clients may only be able to afford to remodel one room at a time, so they return each year with a new project.

“When you have someone to guide you through the process, you will enjoy it, rather than feeling overwhelmed,” Gowen said. “I’m very passionate about what I do, and people see that. I’m here to make people comfortable.”

Kirsten Seidl, interior designer and owner of Rustica Home Furnishings in Crosslake, said she recommends that her clients purchase the best furniture they can afford so it will last. If you can’t afford to buy furniture for every room now, then she helps them create a multi-phase plan to work within their budget.

“We’ll put together a complete plan for several rooms and start with a couple of pieces now, then window treatments later,” Seidl said. “At least they’ll know what the plan is, and then if they’re out on their own shopping, they have a plan. A good quality seating piece should last a lifetime. It’s usually the upholstery that will wear out before the furniture does. When it comes to seating pieces, that is where you need to put the most money. It’s getting a lot of use; you’re sitting on it every day.”

Seidl recommends that the place to save money is in your end tables, which don’t get the same amount of wear and tear. She also works on big or small projects and typically charges an hourly design fee for most projects. She has many of the resources you’ll need at her showroom, so there’s no need to go out searching for ideas.

“There is that perception that you have to be a wealthy person to hire a designer, but you think about the value added, about the time and money you’re saving, and it really is worth it,” Seidl said.

Do you really just want someone who will walk into your house and rearrange the artwork and accessories that you already own? Or maybe find for you some inexpensive window treatments that will work well for your bathroom remodeling project, purchased from a local chain store? Beth Hansen, interior designer and owner of Ideaz Galore in Pequot Lakes, may be able to help.

While Hansen’s background is in the construction industry and she can help homeowners from the beginning through completion of new home construction or a major home remodel, she also will decorate your home.

Some of her favorite home accessorizing projects have involved mini-room facelifts. She will ask the homeowners to take all home décor and place it in the entry way. She will then replace everything where she thinks it should go, and add some home décor she has purchased that represents the family’s style and interests.

Hansen said she has walked into many clients’ homes and the walls are empty and stark, even though the family may have lived there for several years. If it’s difficult for you to decide what to do with your walls, she can help pick out paint, create floral arrangements or add other decorative flourishes to make your house a home. She considers herself a chameleon designer, and can work with any client’s style to create a look that they will enjoy.

“Not everyone is a million dollar client, and I truly like the challenge of finding stuff for any style or budget,” said Hansen. “I’m a people pleaser, and I feed off of that. What can I do to make you love your home?”

(Jodie Tweed is a freelance writer who lives in Pequot Lakes.)

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