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Should I Hire an Interior Designer or Decorate my Home Myself?

If the design of your home is important to you, and you have an interest in interior decorating, you should consider starting the process yourself.  You may not think you have a creative muscle in your body, but if you have the desire, I promise it's there, just waiting to be honed.


Decorating is a creative skill that can be learned, and once the underlying concepts and strategies are understood, the skill will continue to be helpful throughout your life as you move homes and as your tastes & needs change.

You will probably buy and sell multiple homes in your lifetime.  Every home sale you’ll want to stage it to earn fast & high offers, and every new home you move into will have a new floorplan and decorating strategy to fit and enhance the space (even if you keep the same furniture).

Your design style will evolve over the years.  Just think, you had some different styles in your fashion wardrobe 10 years ago, right?  Same with your decor.  As life stages change, so will your needs.  You may marry and need to combine styles with your spouse.  You may add a new puppy or a baby to the family.  As children grow and move out, or parents age and move in, nothing in life stays the same. 

Your home will need to function differently and when you know the foundations of decorating, you will be able to blend and transition your design.  You know yourself the best, and if you have the desire to decorate your home, you’re the one best suited for it! 

You are the one that will be living there everyday and enjoying the beauty and comfort of your surroundings.  For example, how soft or firm you want your sofa will depend on your body type and preferences.  How easy or heavy a drawer opens can be a matter of personal perspective: ease of use vs. perceived quality - and only you can make that decision.  Even realizing how certain colors affect your mood over time is important.


I won’t try to sugarcoat it, decorating a home is an intensive investment of money, energy and time.  But in the long run, you will have a home that feels like you, that functions with your life, and that you can be proud of, knowing most of what you selected are pieces that will be a part of your life for years to come!  

Want the best of both worlds? Hire a designer to help with the parts of your project you find less enjoyable or too time consuming.


The true value of a professional home designer is in the strategy, planning & project management they provide.  (They often have great recommendations for skilled trades & unique local sources for materials too!)  

The actual design direction and vision will be created from what they are able to pull from YOU. Yep, kinda like a good therapist, they need to ask all of the right questions to help draw out from you the best design solution for your home.  In fact, you give the same project to 2 different designers, with the same basic design parameters (style, colors, likes/dislikes) you will get 2 completely DIFFERENT designs.

The reason for this is because of the endless design options, and a designer will always add/infuse a touch of themselves to a design, it can’t be helped.  Creativity is a personal thing.  Plus, when you don’t know your own style, it's hard to translate that to someone else and designers will take liberty to ‘play’ where they can. 

This is human nature, all creatives want a chance to add variety to their portfolio if given the chance.  It’s not inherently wrong either.  For people who don’t really care about the final design, other than just wanting their home to look good and have a place to lay their head & store their belongings, its a win-win relationship!


Are you unsure how to describe your style, but you’ll know it when you see it?  If you’re going to hire a professional designer because you have a remodel, or if you’re too busy to manage the project yourself, learning the fundamentals of design will help you to communicate with your designer more fully.  

When you know what you like, why you like it, and how you need your home to function everyday, you are going to give better direction, and know how to communicate what you do/don’t like so that designer can give you a much better design than they ever could’ve before.  (Which also saves time and money in re-design fees.)


Many people assume that designers get better prices on furniture & accessories.  For most big-box retailers, the discount is similar to what you would receive opening a store credit card or waiting for a holiday weekend sale.  

The primary shopping advantage of professional decorators is their access to exclusive trade-only stores - but know that those stores are NOT less expensive than mass retail.

Trade-only stores are higher quality with a matching higher price tag.  But you will find more unique decor and therefore will be less likely to have the same piece your friend owns!  And the quality, customization & service these stores offer are worth it - especially for upholstery pieces that are used daily.

If you want to decorate yourself, but shopping trade-only stores interests you, check with local designers in your area - many will offer a shopping-only service. (Typically you pay for a few hours of their time to shop with you and a 10-15% up-charge on purchases.)  As an added bonus, this can be a great way to pick their brain for ideas but still manage the majority of the design project yourself, saving thousands in design fees.

photos taken at Belclaire Homes (builder) model home tour in Prosper, Tx. Designer unknown.

So, if you are up for the challenge, it can be quite rewarding to decorate your home yourself.  No matter how skilled the professional, nothing will feel more ‘like home’ than something you design yourself over time.  

And if you have limited availability, you can always hire a designer to manage parts of the project for you - just educate yourself with foundational design principles so you can effectively communicate YOUR vision!

Happy Decorating!

-The Decorating Coach-

Don't feel like doing interior design research on your own (and getting lost in the black hole of Google ;)?  Want an easy-to-follow path to learn pro decorating strategies?  Click here to check out our Decorating Courses


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