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Are Interior Designers Worth the Money?

October 2019

Property expert Alex Goldstein asks Are Interior Designers are Worth the Money in this chat with design expert Eleanor Goddard. He discusses what clients use designers for, from simply helping choosing paint colours, to ideas for a full design project. He also asks Eleanor for her top tips for people who are thinking about using an interior designer.

Are Interior Designers Worth the Money?

Full transcript below:

Alex: It’s great to have Eleanor Goddard from Furnish and Fettle here in the studio with me today. Eleanor thanks so much for coming in. Tell us a bit more because it’s quite interesting where you guys are at the moment, because it’s all a relatively new business isn’t it?

Eleanor: It is Alex yes, basically Furnish and Fettle was born last summer on the morning of Brexit actually which was a swell time. We bought the James Brindley business in Wetherby which had to be rebranded so furnish and Fettle was born then.

Alex: Fantastic, and also, I hear there’s some more exciting news as well, you guys don’t really hang about from what I gather.

Eleanor: No, we definitely don’t. So, we had the opportunity to buy the James Brindley interior design division in January this year, so we set ourselves a very short timescale and we opened our second Furnish and Fettle showroom in Royal Parade at the end of March.

Alex: So that’s in Harrogate, right by Valley Garden so within what timeframe is that from opening your doors initially to then opening up your Harrogate branch? Must only have been about six months I guess?

Eleanor: Yeah, I think it’s slightly longer, I think it’s eight, maybe nine months.

Alex: There you go that’s pretty impressive to start with, given that you’ve now also taken on the James Brindley side of things. You’ve got this amalgamation, what are the sort of things that say yourselves an interior designer, what are the services that you actually offer now?

Eleanor: Alright, well essentially now we’ve got the original James Brindley interior design team back together, so we’ve got a very established team of people that are used to working together and not only do we have the design team, we have the installations team and that’s really important because it doesn’t matter how good a design is if actually when you get your curtains arriving if they don’t fit properly and they’re not put up properly and the end result isn’t going to be that great so that’s really key to what we offer is the whole process really. So, we can offer anything whether its just a tin of paint or a roll of wallpaper for a feature wall through to a full interior design service and we can also work on large projects and renovation projects in conjunction with architects. We really can offer that whole process.

Alex: How does an interior designer actually help a home owner? What can you actually do, what do you do?

Eleanor: Yeah, I think it’s a big misconception that interior designers are really only there for people like footballer’s wives in these amazing great big pads so really, we offer two different sides to the way that we work. There’s the very straightforward accessible to everybody option, where you can come into our showroom and can spend the time choosing the right colour and getting that expert advice which won’t cost you anymore than if you went to B&Q to buy a tin of paint.

Alex: Got you, I suppose that’s the more simplistic side of things and general sort of basics for wallpaper and paint, and what’s the reverse side of things?

Eleanor: The reverse side of things is that you would pay an interior design fee which is £175, which we’re confident is market leading for the value that it represents. So, the designer would then come out to your home and would spend as much time as they need to, understanding what it is that you’re really looking to achieve from your project and how you live in the space, how you want it to feel and what it is you are looking for at the end of that project. They would then come back to the showroom and they put a lot of work in behind the scenes, getting different things together and sourcing pieces for you and putting a scheme together, perhaps getting some ideas for different wall coverings or fabrics for putting curtains together and then at that stage they’d probably invite you back into the showroom and take you through it. So, all the way through it’s a collaborative process. I mean essentially, we’re pulling together all the different projects that are out there in the marketplace and it’s a vast marketplace, I mean I think we’ve got something like over 100 different suppliers just of fabrics and I know for a fact that we’ve got over 2,000 fabric books just in Harrogate because we had to move them over from James Brindley into our own showroom at Wetherby.

Alex: So that’s really where an interior designer would come into their own because they will intrinsically know inside out all of that information and can pinpoint the fairest options and save effectively the homeowner a lot of time and hassle and start to hone in on specifics at the end of the day.

Eleanor: Yeah it’s like when you would walk in and we see it all the time, people walk into the showroom and go oh crikey where do I start and you say right ok well what you looking and get all I want is some curtains for my lounge and it’s then pairing that down into what it is they’re actually looking for and then being able to take to perhaps looking through five or six books which might then have thirty fabrics in each, and being able to pair that down to a couple of choices and just taking away that completely overwhelming situation in that you can walk in and go ooo.

Alex: I quite agree and what happens, I mean obviously a lot of listeners have got children everyone’s always mindful and yeah you pick up these fantastic interior design magazines, everything is all beautiful and white and very much sort of the French country look sort of thing. How can you guys fit in with that because again if you’re a family with children you can’t sort of have that pristine white?

Eleanor: Yeah, I think that’s really important because it’s our job really to make sure the space doesn’t just look beautiful, but it actually works. So somebody comes to us and tells us that they live on a farm and they’ve got three dogs, the last thing we’re going to suggest they do is have a beautiful cream sofa, we’re going to suggest to them that perhaps you need something a little bit more practical something that you’re going to be able to get cleaned, something that you’re going to be able to perhaps throw over it to stop is you know getting, the dogs can jump on the throw and you can chuck the throw in the washing machine. We are very practical as well as having that sort of design side with it and I think the two very much need to marry together to make sure that it works.

Alex: How does it work if, I know we briefly touched on the budget side of things, obviously as you said at the beginning if you are sort of a footballers wife territory and budget is no option, its meaningless that’s fantastic but what happens if you’re the other side of the fence and your saying well I just need a helping hand in the right direction but I’m a bit more constrained on budget, how can you then help a homeowner to get that look?

Eleanor: I think it’s going back to that industry knowledge so if somebody tells us that they’ve got a budget we can work within that budget. The designers are trained to know which items are going to make a really big difference so it might be that together with your designer you would choose to spend a lot of money on a real big wild piece in a bedroom or it might be having a beautiful upholstered bed head made in a lovely fabric but then you might chose to use a less expensive fabric on your huge windows and therefore you’re making that budget goa little bit further. There are lots of clever ways and it’s having that access to all of those different suppliers and the knowledge of what to get from where and then that sort of sense of style that these guys have in being able to pull it all together that is really going to make the difference so you don’t always have to spend a lot of money to get a really good look.

Alex: With your experience in the business what are your top tips if someone is looking to appoint and instruct an interior designer? What are the key things in your mind that people should be mindful of and sort of any potential pitfalls that they should avoid?

Eleanor: I think the absolute key to it is finding somebody that you get on with and that you can work with and that will listen to what you’re saying to them and will take it on board and the things they’re coming back with are going in the right direction, and that’s easy to test out because you can come along to one of our showrooms which is what we suggest most people do as a starting point and you can just browse through some fabrics, you can chat to the designers because we’ve got lots of designers and it might be that one designer you particularly gel with more than another. That’s really important as you’ll be spending a lot of time with this person and you’re going to be perhaps having them in your house and sharing sort of your personal space with them so you really do need to be on the same wavelength to make sure that you work together and you need to enjoy working with them because at the end of the day it’s meant to be a fun process.

Alex: It is indeed, I suppose just on a parting note if someone just said well look I just want I suppose re-orientating and pointing in the right direction as you said the designer can come out for £175 but I guess there’s no obligation they can sort of say well you know what you need to do what we think you need to do.

Eleanor: That’s absolutely fine and some people do that and then they might just come in and just buy a mirror and a lamp and we never see them again, other people might decide to take down all the real curtains and start from scratch. Either’s absolutely fine.

Alex: Fantastic stuff, well Eleanor I can’t thank you enough for coming in and if people wanted to chat through everything in more detail with you, what’s the best way to reach you guys?

Eleanor: You can come in and see us, I think it’s the best thing, it’s very much a touch and feel kind of business. We like to think we’re sort of the friendly approachable side of interior design. We have a website as well if you want to have a look and have a read through about us before you do that, we’re www.furnishandfettle.co.uk or you can call us at either of our showrooms. The number for Wetherby is 01937 581451 and our new Harrogate number is 01423 567757.

Alex: Fantastic, Eleanor thank you once again, really appreciate it.

Eleanor: Thank you Alex.