What You Should Know Before Hiring a Designer

Happy Spring! As the weather begins to warm up many of us start to feel that urge to freshen things up, and we begin planning and preparing for home renovations or redecorating projects. For those who are considering hiring a designer, there are a few things to consider and perhaps you have some questions about how to choose a designer, how much it will cost, and what the benefits are. 

We think this is a great time to share a Q&A to answer some of the big questions for you here. We’ve paired our article with some of our current favourite work by designers we love for inspiration to fuel your projects!

Laurel Liess @laurenliess

What are the benefits of hiring a professional designer?

Last year on the blog we wrote this article highlighting a few of the reasons to hire a designer for kitchen renovations. Overall, hiring a designer for any renovation is a great way to get good value for your money and time, ensure a high quality job, and remove a lot of the burden of planning and managing a project.


Laurel Liess @laurenliess

Will I get better prices for tradespeople and decor items?

Yes, designers sometimes get better pricing from our tradespeople and vendors, but we also get a much better level of service. An experienced designer has long-standing relationships with the people and businesses in the industry and that goes a long way! We also only work with people we trust to do a great job, so you know you’re in great hands and you can avoid the process of finding quality contractors, and losing time and money if you hire the wrong people.


Laurel Liess @laurenliess

What are some common expectations clients have that aren’t realistic, and how can the designer help set them up for success?

We are careful about setting up client’s expectations right from the beginning. We’d never want to create a situation where a client is caught off guard or disappointed. We’re always upfront with our clients about whether or not what they are asking for is realistic in terms of time and budget.

Oftentimes renovations cost more than what is expected and take more time. It depends on the project, but consider the time it takes to plan, schedule trades, and source just the right items at the right price. The best news is that you’ve hired a team of people who are dedicated to coming up with solutions that work with your budget and time. We’ve completed many projects that mix high and low end items, or broken down a large whole-home project up over a few years to fit the budget. We can be flexible!


Andrew Howard @andrewjhow

What information, questions or planning should be considered before meeting with a designer?

Look at the big picture, jot down all of the components of the project that you can think of and what your vision is for the final result. Think about how much you want to spend on the project and write that down too. Be up front about these things with your designer when you meet with them.


Andrew Howard @andrewjhow

How do I choose the right designer?

Do your research, look at their website, their Facebook and Instagram, ask trusted friends and neighbours for referrals. It’s important that the look and feel of the designer’s portfolio fits in with the aesthetic that you love. Every designer works a bit differently, and many are capable of creating different styles, but usually they excel or are known for a particular style. When you narrow it down and have the chance to meet a few designers, you want to feel comfortable with them and that you are listened to! Having someone design your home is an intimate experience and it can be wonderful if the designer is right for you.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

Before a project is underway, how do we make sure we’re on the same page in terms of budget, timeline and aesthetic?

The designer will likely set up a meeting with you to go over all of the details and budget before getting things started. At Henhouse we compile a complete design concept including mood boards, source lists, layouts and cost breakdowns. You should have a clear idea of what the expected outcomes are, the process, and the cost. It’s in everyone’s best interest that we are on the right path.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

What if I change my mind or want to go in a different direction with the design? When is it too late?

It’s much easier to change things earlier on. That being said, last minute changes do happen. Nothing is permanent, but big changes to the design late in the game will cost a lot of time and money. These kinds of situations can be mitigated – the designer should give you opportunities to voice your thoughts, and be considerate and respectful of them. As a client, never be afraid to speak up at any time during the process, and if you have a concern address it right away.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

What roles and responsibilities will the designer take on?

This depends on the designer and on the client’s needs. At Henhouse, the minimum we provide is a full design concept, including sourcing decor items, layouts, costs etc. This alone can be a big project, and sometimes eager homeowners are willing to tackle the rest on their own. Most times we get hired on to complete the renovation from a to z including creating a design concept, scheduling and managing trades, purchasing materials, finishes, furnishings, fabrics, hardware, and accessories, and tracking the budget.


How does an interior designer bill for their services? What is the best way to know you’re getting a good deal? 

Don’t go into a relationship with a designer looking for a deal on their services! Hiring a designer is an investment. Like we mentioned, there is value in a job done correctly and efficiently, and having access to a designer’s resources and knowledge. We are very used to working within a budget and we know where to save and where to spend and what will give you the most value and impact for your money. In terms of billing, that will vary – have a conversation with your designer early on.


What rooms or pieces are worth investing in? Are there certain things you would never cut corners on? 

Rooms that are hard working or highly used are good places to invest in. The kitchen comes to mind as it is often the heart of the home, where families spend a lot of time. A great kitchen also adds value to the home, so you’ll likely see a return on your investment.

For items that are worth investing in, usually it’s things that get more wear but it also depends on the homeowners and their lifestyle. For example, if you love having your family and friends over for meals you might get a lot of use and enjoyment out of a beautiful, high quality dining set. It comes back to how much value you’ll get out of the items.


We hope our Q&A has helped to clear up some of the common questions about working with a designer. If you have more questions or are interested in working with Henhouse on an upcoming project please get in touch! 

A Stunning Modern Custom Home

Last summer we had the opportunity to work with MRB Contracting on two projects in Halifax – Harvard Street, and Starboard. We wrote about our progress last July and shared the digital renderings of our plans. Since then, both projects have been completed and we’re excited to share them with you!

For Harvard Street, we were tasked with designing the kitchen as well as the living area builtins. You can see MRB’s Harvard Street photos here on their website.

And this is Starboard, a beautiful brand new build in Halifax. The Henhouse team was hired to design a custom kitchen, three bathrooms, builtin units on the main and lower floors, and to select all of the finishes throughout the house including flooring, fixtures and lighting.

Up until last month we hadn’t had the opportunity to see the finished project and we had only met with the homeowners once during the design phase. For most projects we work collaboratively with our clients, keeping in close contact throughout the process. With the Starboard project we were given lot of creative control. We enjoy working either way but, as you can imagine, it is fun to have so much freedom!

The clients generously allowed us into their home and we were thrilled to see the space in person and to get some gorgeous photographs. We hired local photographer Julian Parkinson who did a beautiful job capturing the space.

Oftentimes when we’re photographing our work we’ll bring in a few items to make the space shine for the camera! Because these homeowners have just recently moved in, we had the chance to go all out for this photoshoot! We brought in gorgeous items from some of our favourite local shops in Halifax, and mixed them in with the homeowner’s items. The two armchairs and the coffee table in the living area are from Attica, the rug is from Tabrizi, and the artwork is from Gallery 1.

It was such a treat to be welcomed into this home and to work with the many very talented people and businesses involved. Special thanks to the homeowners, MRB, Julian Parkinson, Gallery 1, Attica and Tabrizi.

Teen Bedroom Makeover

We’ve just finished up a really sweet project in the home of one of our longtime clients. Every now and again we have clients who hire us to renovate one area of their home, then re-hire us again (and sometimes again and again!) for other areas.

This homeowner originally hired us to update her master bedroom. Soon after, we got to work renovating the entire main floor including the kitchen and dining area , the front foyer, the powder room and living room. Next up was their daughter’s bedroom. Here’s a look before we gave it the Henhouse treatment.
At 16, our client’s daughter was ready to ditch the pink princess look in favour of something more grown up but still fun. When we asked about her vision for the space she said “anything but pink” ! The look needed to be more sophisticated and be able to transition into a guest room in the years to come. We worked with both mother and daughter to come up with a design plan that suited them both.

Our colour palette was rich with blues, soft greys and hints of raspberry and lime. We decided to repurpose the bed by reupholstering it in a rich velvet with green piping. To keep things playful and casual we created the look of a daybed by adding in lots of toss cushions in a variety of fabrics. We also installed sweet and simple sconces on opposite ends of the bed to add to the cozy daybed feeling.

A key feature of our design was the giant cork board. Our teen is a talented athlete and we wanted to give her a way to show off her recent medals, photos, and inspirations. We had this cork board custom built and we love how it turned out.

We think this teen bedroom turned out beautifully and our clients are so happy! The layered blues and lush velvet bed elevate the look and create that sophisticated feeling that we were after, while the funky boho toss cushions and giant cork board offer a sense of fun and youthfulness. Thanks so much to our wonderful clients for inviting us back to into their home!

Decor Trends We Love for 2018

Mixing trends with classic timeless styles is a great way to keep things fresh and it’s our favourite way to decorate at Henhouse. If you’re looking to update your decor in 2018 read on! We’ve picked out some of our favourite trends and offered up some tips on how to make them work in your own home.

Bold Colour

We’ve been enjoying the white on white trend over the past few years and now we’re looking forward to seeing more colour. Choosing the right colour and finish is key – no small feat, but don’t let that stop you from trying this trend.

Consider what kind of mood you want to create – is this a cozy quiet space, a fun family-friendly space, or a more formal office or living room? The function of the room and the mood you want to evoke is a good starting point.

Create balance by mixing bold with neutral. In the photos above, bold walls are countered by light-coloured or neutral furnishings, fabrics and accessories. Adding in small touches of contrasting colours (like the yellow chair against the deep blue walls) adds interest and a lot of personality.

If going bold on the walls feels too overwhelming try starting small. Choose one wall and create a focal point, or highlight a special architectural feature. Builtins, cabinetry, wainscotting or a fireplace mantle can be great features to draw attention to with bold hues.

Fun With Pattern

Wallpaper is back and we are loving it! We’ve had the opportunity to use some gorgeous wallpapers in a few of our recent projects.

Above are images from a home in Halifax that we’ve done quite a bit of work on including a custom kitchen, master bedroom, girl’s room, and (shown above) the front foyer and powder room. The wallpapers that we chose mix traditional motifs with contemporary colour schemes and feel so fresh.

With so many options on the market there is a wallpaper for every space. It can make a room feel cozy or formal and it certainly adds character. We love it in an entryway, powder room, or in the dining area.

Similar to choosing paint, consider how the space is used and what mood you want to evoke. Think about your decor style and what would fit in best – romantic florals, bold geometrics, painterly abstraction, or maybe an interesting texture like grasscloth. 

Be sure to do your research first, as some types of wallpaper require special considerations. If you need help choosing or are on the hunt for great wallpaper get in touch with us! We have lots of wonderful choices from Kravet and Thibaut available to purchase through Henhouse.

Bring the Outdoors In

Plant life is everywhere in decor right now from potted plants big and small to leafy motifs in fabric and wallpaper.

Plants can add lots of style and are a great accent in any room. Go small with a grouping of tiny succulents or air plants, or go big with fiddle leaf figs or palms. If you’re arranging several plants in a group try mixing different shapes and variegated leaves together. You can mix and match planters for an eclectic look, or display a collection of matching planters for a clean, more uniform look.

The standing planters above are a great way to display medium to large sized plants and make them into a work of art! We found similar ones at Attica in Halifax and at Retrospekt in Dartmouth.

There’s so many interesting plants available at local nurseries and flower shops. A great shop will help you choose the right plant for your space and offer care instructions. For a great selection of plants in Halifax we love The Flower Shop. Be sure to follow them on Instagram @theflowershophfx for lots of inspiration.

 Eyes Up!

We’ve been seeing more and more interesting ceiling treatments lately. We’ve fully embraced this trend and have used it in a number of our own projects with great results!

A bold or dark colour on the ceiling adds drama, and can set off crown molding or highlight a special light fixture. Reflective wallpaper or high gloss paint is a great way to play with light, or create a glowing, ethereal atmosphere. We love this look in a dining room or bathroom to add sparkle!

Wallpapering or painting the ceiling and the tops of the walls is a fun look, and can help make a space feel cozy. The bedroom on the left feels enveloping and in the living area on the right, the super high ceilings are brought in a little closer and feel less imposing.

Mixing Metals

We certainly love a touch of sparkle in any room! Metals have been trending in lighting, furniture and accessories. To add even more character and an element of the unexpected, try mixing different metals together.

We’ve seen some beautiful examples of mixed metals in kitchens and bathrooms. The trick to pulling off this look is by being strategic about placement. In the images above, warm metals are used up top (brass and copper), while cooler metals are used below (nickel, aluminum). Keeping the types of metals together creates unity and allows each metal to stand out on its own.

In other areas of the home bringing in a metal side table or a bench or chair with a polished metal frame adds glamour without being overly fussy. Smaller accents like this planter can live anywhere in the house.

Lighting is also a great place to inject this trend. The chandelier above is available through Attica and boasts warm and cool metallics . We recently installed it in a client’s dining area and it is stunning!

We hope we’ve inspired you to try some of these great trends! Remember you can always start small with any of these trends, moving to bigger and bolder statements over time if you’d like. And as always, if you need help get in touch with us!

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