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What It’s Really Like to Work with an Interior Designer


Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work with an interior designer? How involved are our clients? What can you expect the experience to be like?

We’ll answer all of these questions, but first, let’s address the unsaid question and common design myth… what do interior designers actually do?

1. Interior Designers Create Spaces for Your Lifestyle

You probably already know that our job is to make your home as aesthetically pleasing and cohesive as possible. It is meant to be a supportive, stylish safe haven, and a reflection of your personality and taste. But did you know that interior design is also about the feel, function, and longevity of your home? 

We don’t just think about how things look, we also focus on how they function and flow for you, your family, and your lifestyle as a whole. We also want them last! Design is a multi-layered beast, and we assess every angle of it when designing for your life. However, this is only 10-20% of what we do…

2. Interior Designers Are Expert Project Managers

Project management makes up the other 80-90% of what we do. Most people don’t know this simply because it isn’t sexy enough to put on TV. Who wants to watch their designer coordinate with contractors and vendors, oversee purchase orders and procurement, and balance budgeting spreadsheets, potentially for months on end? 

I love my job, and I wouldn’t even watch that. 

However, this is the only way to run a design project truly efficiently. Whether it’s furnishings-only or a massive renovation, high-end, uniquely tailored spaces don’t happen overnight or passively. They require us to roll up our sleeves, stay organized and sharp, and get down to business for our clients. And we love it. 

Now that you know what we do, what is the experience like from your side?


From our San Francisco Victorian project. Photographer: Vivian Johnson

1. Working with a designer is a strong, personal relationship

Not all service providers require a solid relationship for success. Does your dentist need to know your daily routine to do a stand-up job? Doubt it. Will your accountant ask if you like your mattress firm or soft? I hope not! 

Interior designers, however, are creating a lifestyle experience for you. We have to ask personal questions, such as how and where you get ready in the morning, how you use (or want to use) different areas in your home, what helps you unwind at the end of a busy day, and more. We also often act as a home design “Coach” or “Therapist,” assisting you with your partner’s differing (sometimes clashing) style choices and helping you make smarter lifestyle choices for your home.

The only way for us to succeed is if we have a relationship built on understanding and trust. We don’t judge; we listen. We don’t rush into action; we take the time to ask the right questions. We don’t assume; we get to know you. 

That’s how we become your guide, your advocate, and a fierce action-taker to create spaces that uniquely support your amazing life — through strong, trusting relationships.


From our San Francisco Style Project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

2. Working with a designer is like delegating to your favorite person

You know that one person you trust above all else if you need something done and done correctly? That’s us. All the upfront time we spend getting to know you results in us being able to manage everything from start to finish once your project begins. 

Of course, there will be times when we’ll ask for your input, such as when we present our design concept or furniture and material selections. We’ll also keep you updated each week as your project progresses. (You can read more on design timelines here.) 

You, however, get to skip the stressful parts, sit back, and enjoy your incredible life knowing that experienced, thoughtful, and caring professionals have you covered. We handle the million details. We manage and coordinate all the team members your project needs. We bring you solutions instead of problems. (Face it, we’re awesome.)

Taking out the stressful parts means you get to fully enjoy the process! Lucky you.

San francisco coddington-design-sf-working-with-interior-designer-glass-pendant-circle-mirror-southwest-inspired-rug-tan-loveseat

From our Beach House project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

3. Working with a designer is making a long-term investment

There are not just a couple, but several ways that working with an interior designer pays off in the long run. I could write an entire article about this one topic, but I’ll keep it to a quick list for now. (Who doesn’t love lists?)

As interior designers, we…

  • Increase overall project efficiency, which saves time and money
  • Have the experience to spot problems before they ever start
  • Help you balance your budget to invest where it will pay off and save where it won’t
  • Advise you on which updates can increase home value and which likely won’t
  • Advise you on furnishings/materials that are genuinely well-made and going to last
  • Design for your lifestyle, which means long-term functionality and JOY
  • Design in your style (not trends) so that you’ll love your home long into the future

Wow, that’s a lot, right? You can read a bit more about how and what designers charge here, but I am not overstating things when I say the investment is worth every penny.

If I could sum up everything I’ve shared with you, it comes down to this: working with an interior designer is like having complete peace of mind. Period. You have peace of mind in the process, in your investment, and in your future life in your home. That’s what we do. I can’t wait for you to experience it for yourself.

If you’re ready to start a design project, we’d love to help. Book a no-strings-attached discovery call with us and let’s get to know each other.



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