Remodeled bathroom by Beth Bynon

Interior designers and general contractors must work together to create a beautiful home remodel.

Caleb and Rita Summers have both recently retired, and Rita is itching to remodel and redesign their small, outdated kitchen. She dreams of having her large family over for weekly dinners and inviting friends over for the book club she just started. She knows that she will have to hire both an interior designer and a general contractor, but this is her first major remodel. The Summers have no idea what is in the purview of the general contractor and what the interior designer handles. Should they hire a contractor first to do all the heavy lifting and then the interior designer to add a coat of paint and curtains?

The Summers are not alone! A homeowner’s first remodel can be confusing, especially when it comes to hiring both an interior designer and a general contractor. In this article, I’ll explain what each professional does and how they work together to transform your home!

General Contractor vs. Interior Designer

There is some overlap between the capabilities of a general contractor and an interior designer, but generally, a general contractor builds and an interior designer designs. Typically, you will bring on an interior designer first, because he or she will help you lay out your new room and determine all the different finishes to use.

For example, an interior designer like myself will help Rita and Caleb determine if they want to knock down a wall to open up their kitchen, add in recessed lighting, install an island in the kitchen for more food prep space, and add in large bay windows to enhance the view. The interior designer may also help the couple choose new flooring, new cabinets, new countertops, and, yes, new paint colors.

Once the overall design scheme is complete, the general contractor will implement these ideas. His or her company will actually break down the wall, install the center island, rip out the old floor and put in the new tiles, etc…

How General Contractors and Interior Designers Work Together

It is very important that your interior designer and your general contractor be able to communicate effectively. The interior designer needs to be able to convey your overall vision to the general contractor so the project is built up right. The general contractor, in turn, needs to be able to bring up concerns or make alternative suggestions if appropriate.

In many cases, the interior designer will be the one to order and check all the finishes as they arrive. It can be surprisingly time consuming to order finishes and arrange for them to show up on the job site just when they are needed. You’d be surprised how often the wrong thing shows up or the right thing in the wrong quantity, triggering a flurry of calls and new shipments.

As an interior designer, I don’t typically break down a lot of walls or do any sort of electrical re-wiring, but I do like to stay in close communication with the general contractor while the work is being done. I usually drop by the job site periodically to make sure the work is coming along according to plan. I’ll notice right away if the tiles are being placed in the wrong pattern or a light is being installed in the wrong place.

It is also often my responsibility to check finishes as they arrive to make sure they are exactly what we ordered. When the majority of the remodeling is complete, then I swoop in and add the final touches, putting the new furniture in place, adding design layers to bring out the client’s personality, and making sure everything looks just right.

I hope this article gave you some useful insight into how general contractors and interior designers work together. If you have any questions or are looking for a professional interior designer for your Southern California home, please contact me at (760) 277-7442.