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Getting Professional Help From Interior Designers VS. Redecorating On Your Own During The Pandemic—Which Side Are You On?

To DIY or not to DIY your home? That is the question!


You didn't need to be a home and design enthusiast to have thought about it during this time.


Endless months of living under quarantine have made us all wonder out loud if our bedrooms/family spaces/home offices/kitchens/gardens needed redecorating and redesigning, and if you didn't have the Pinterest app before, you probably do now and spend countless hours gathering pegs for a redecorating spree that might or might not have materialized.


If you managed to get some or a lot of redecorating and redesigning done, hooray! A congratulations is due you for accomplishing no small feat. But if you're still stuck in the mood board phase of things and haven't actually gone to furniture and home shops to realize your design dreams, we're pretty sure it's because a question is hanging over your head—do you take on a task like this with the help of an interior designer, or, do you guerilla style your way through what's likely the biggest DIY project of your life? 


It's worth mentioning that pandemic life has seen a boom in so many areas of life that were once just niche interests/groups in pre-COVID times, but are now enjoying a ton of attention—like local online communities whose members happily swap tips, suppliers, and reviews about products and services that helped them bomb their DIY-ing. They've proved to be a useful alternative to some homeowners, though others still prefer to hire the services of a professional.


Now, going back to that question. The answer isn't clear-cut unfortunately, but in the absence of a direct response to that, we're ready to give you the advantages and disadvantages of both options. 


There are benefits to working with an interior designer and letting your imagination run wild, so to help you make a more informed choice about how to go about handling your home's redesign, read on!


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Licensed and experienced vs. trial and error

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Image from Pexels


Interior designers don't just get to call themselves that because they once purchased a pretty vase or found a great couch. In the Philippines, the profession is regulated and interior designers must be licensed in order to call themselves such and/or be able put up a business/join a firm that explicitly offers interior design services. Why is this important in your decision? 

Well, because hiring the services of a licensed interior designer means they have your best interest at heart and will not necessarily give in to your requests if they know something will put you, as a homeowner, in harm's way or just isn't generally worth your time and money. Working with them assures you that your home isn't getting prettified on a superficial, aesthetic level, but that the changes you decide to make will stand the test of time. Their knowledge is certainly not limited to what colors and textures work best together, but how the tangible and intangible elements of a home can all come together to enhance your quality of life. They went to school and earned their license precisely so that they could help you achieve your home design goals in all their Pinterest glory, but safely and efficiently, too. 

Now, if you choose to DIY redesigning and have little or very casual experience with doing so, you will inevitably make mistakes, some potentially costly. YouTube tutorials and WikiHow articles can only teach you so much, and while you can definitely learn along the way, it's important to acknowledge the risks of this. 

Perhaps what you can do to reach a compromise is to limit the kinds of redecorating you do yourself, and leave the more complicated matters to the pros. Sure, go ahead and buy that new daybed you've been eyeing, or, replace your old headboard with a tapestry. But if you're thinking of hanging a hammock in your living room, or perhaps turning your loft into a bedroom when it was previously just an empty space, you might want to schedule a consultation. 


Paying a premium vs. striking a bargain 

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Image from Unsplash


Being real about things, it has to be said that working with an interior designer (especially one who's already made a name for themselves) will likely require a budget. The tradeoff is that you can be rest assured that you'll get your ROI if you work closely with them and are open with your vision for the end result and accept their suggestions as well. It's also very much possible that they elevate what you already have in mind, as their relationships with suppliers and exposure in the industry have armed them with ideas you didn't realize were possible, or would better suit your taste and space. 

You're paying them for a reason, after all, not just because they want to charge you. This special insider's information and unique ability to cherry pick trends and elements of design to create a stylish and personalized whole that's yours and yours alone are what you get in return—something you can't gift yourself with if you DIY. 

The other side of the coin is if you do decide to source materials for yourself and attempt to put them together: whether it requires a simple act of rearranging or something a lot more complicated like fabricating. Don't get us wrong. There are certainly many benefits to helming this project all on your own that will appeal to some.

There's the matter of saving money; no professional fees need to be paid. There's also the time factor; you decide on when something gets done, even if it means staying up till 3a.m. to finish that carpeting. Then there's also how you essentially get to choose anything and everything that goes into your house. You can be a sucker for secondhand steals, you can keep experimenting for free, and you can redecorate as often as you like even if it means doing it weekly. 

The biggest sacrifice with the DIY option could just be that you might be giving up quality if you go without a professional. Remember, too, that they're well-connected with brands and labels, meaning they can guarantee that a purchase with a hefty price tag will be worth the damage (who knows? They could get you discounts, too!). Whereas, if you DIY, you might be saving money by not paying an interior designer, but possibly at the expense of buying things that need frequent replacing or repairing. 


Cohesion vs. bits and pieces 

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Image from Pexels


You might disagree with us on this but hear us out. 

One of the reasons people seek out interior designers is because they can execute a vision in its entirety. While you might only have an idea for how to spruce up a selected area and are unsure of how to redesign the rest of the space to make everything flow together, they know exactly how to do this. Or, you might only have a faint feel of what you want to do, but an interior designer can easily come prepared with multiple spreads to give you direction. 

Good and conscientious interior designer will certainly make sure they oversee a project from start to finish (ensuring that a "look" has truly been achieved), and a really thoughtful one might even allow you to get back to them with a few minor tweaks and polishes after everything has been finalized. 

But, if you happen to be an incredibly creative and resourceful person who knows exactly what needs to be done to successfully overhaul a whole place (not just bits and pieces of it), by all means, go for that DIY dream! 

In this particular area of discussion, the benefits to doing things yourself is absolute freedom and flexibility. If you're not liking an idea, scrap it at little to no expense. If you want to keep changing things up to compare different arrangements to find which one you like best, do it. If you're a shabby chic kind of person that doesn't mind an eclectic look to things, that's okay, too!

Again, we aren't advocating for either option, but simply pointing out that either or will fulfill your redesigning needs in different ways. 

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One on one attention vs. group suggestions    

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Image from Pexels


This might be self-explanatory, but when you're in a position where you find yourself really needing it, you'll discover the value of it.

One-on-one, unshared attention from an interior designer who is a hundred percent focused on your queries at a particular time can be so reassuring and fruitful. You get to iron out plans, including timelines and suppliers, so you ensure you're on the same page once the real work starts. It always helps to know that you're being looked after in this sense, no matter the activity. 

This time, the comparison we're making isn't between a professional designer and yourself, but between a professional and the massively popular online DIY design communities. A good example of one is the Philippines' very own Home Buddies PH on Facebook, which was launched just last September by Frances Lim Cabatuando. It has over 2.5 million followers to date, which speaks so much of just how popular an option DIY-ing home design became with the pandemic. The point of the membership-required group is to share DIY success stories, including the finer details of how things were made possible. Real owners of apartments, mansions, rest homes, and even individual rooms share photos, tips and yes, "hacks," and everyone is free to ask design-related questions. 

This free market style of exchanging best practices has its obvious perks, but what it lacks is professional advice and focus. Someone's freestanding tub might be perfect in their bachelor's pad, but before you decide it'll work just fine in your bath that you share with three small children, you'll want to first ask about viability from someone who knows their stuff and has technical know-how—like a licensed interior designer. You might want to cop how someone hung a vintage chandelier in their foyer, but how sure are you that your ceiling and home electrical system can handle the load? An interior designer can help figure that out. 

Online groups have a place in the home design world for sure and have their own merit, but do exercise healthy discernment when going through them. Join them so you can source for ideas, discover what's possible to do here in the Philippines given climate and location, learn from other's people's mistakes, and be led to amazing suppliers. 


Real value added vs. simple personal gain 

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Image from Pexels


As a final thought, we'd also like to point out something that most people forget to consider.

We've so far only talked about how interior design, when professionally executed, benefits you as the person residing in a home. But it if you happen to be renting out or selling a space, you can attach a premium to your property by stating that it was designed by a professional. The more prominent the name of firm, the higher the premium, of course. 

This is something to ponder on if you happen to be in the business of buying and selling, or maybe you have an Airbnb you'd like to ready for when COVID is gone or you're looking to rent out your luxury apartment now that you've moved to a house. No matter the reason for why you'd like to make an extra buck by beautifying a space, an interior designer is always someone you'd love to have in your corner. 


So with that, what is it going to be for you? 


To DIY or not to DIY? That is the question!


Opening images from Pexels and Unsplash