“Only Rich or Posh people hire Interior Designers, right?” WRONG!

ADVICE, HINTS & TIPS ON WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER.

MONEY TALKS!

Yes, people often focus on “cost.” But what is the cost to you of not doing anything? Or trying it and getting it wrong?

An Interior Designer rightly deserves to be paid for their services, and you shouldn’t under estimate what you’re actually getting for your money. Their years of training and learning. The service you purchase from your Interior Designer will last long after their work is done!

A solid room design will last at least 5 years if you’re not a slave to current trends that will go out of fashion as soon as they come in. A good way of seeing the value for your money is to divide the designer’s cost of their service over 1,825 days- and the price will start to make more sense!

One price doesn’t fit all people & projects, and therefore an Interior Designer will probably have a range of packages and services to suit different client’s needs, which will be discussed with you at length. Try and avoid asking an interior designer how much it will cost straight away, instead ask them about what packages they offer.

A lot of clients or potential customers hugely underestimate the price or extent of a project- so a good Interior Designer will break down costs and help them see what is needed or absolutely necessary.

Also ask the Interior Designer if they price per project or if they charge per hour, which may add up to a lot more and be hard to keep track of.

An Interior Designer might also offer the chance to spread the cost of the project over several payments.

WHAT THE INTERIOR DESIGNER NEEDS FROM YOU.

A good Interior Designer will focus on getting to know you and your space. They’ll discuss your likes, dislikes, hobbies and interests to get an idea of who they are designing this space for.

They’ll need to discuss your current space, what you need, what you want (which can be 2 very different things!) and maybe mostly importantly, WHY you’re looking to change it. This will then help them to advise you on which package or service suits you best. If you feel that an Interior Designer isn’t listening to you, or that they’re trying to force you into a higher price package that you don’t need, then walk away! Go with your gut.

When first contacting an Interior Designer, it’s a massive help to send photos and as much information as you can give them about the current space. I understand that clients don’t want to waste their time and are keen to know prices upfront- but please bear in mind that there’s so many factors to the Interior Designer’s pricing structure that they probably won’t be able to give you this information up front.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD INTERIOR DESIGNER?

A good Interior Designer really wants to help their clients achieve their dream home (or commercial space) and their motivation won’t be to push you into a sale that doesn’t suit you.

They will listen to their clients in order to create a design that best suits them, but they’ll also demonstrate alternatives and push your comfort zone boundaries- so try and go with the flow and keep an open mind. A good Interior Designer will push their client’s boundaries and comfort zone. A great Interior Designer will know when to stop!

They’ll take time getting to know you and finding out if you’re a good match to work together. A good Interior Designer will turn down offers of work if they believe they’re not the right person for your project- so don’t take it personally as they’ll actually be doing you a favour!

HOW TO FIND A GOOD DESIGNER.

I would recommend an internet search of designers in your area. If they’re in your area, or within reasonable travelling distance, then costs will be kept to a minimum. Have a look at their websites and Social Media chanells. Instagram and Pinterest are very visual and you’ll get an idea of the Interior Designer’s personality and creative flair. 

There are also lots of websites now that act as a match making service between clients and customers- and an internet search will help you find these. Most of these sites require the Interior Designer to pay to accept your details once you create the job. Therefore, if an Interior Designer contacts you through a site like this, please don’t ignore them. Instead explain that you’ve found another designer you’d like to work with or explain that the project isn’t going ahead, etc.

Word of mouth is often the best form of advertising- do you know someone who has used an Interior Designer? Would they recommend them? Can they offer you advice about the whole process? Also check out a designer’s reviews and testimonials- but don’t discount a newly qualified professional who may not have these yet!

Most professionals will have a relevant qualification in Interior Design- such as a Degree or Diploma. But while qualifications are important, there are other factors to consider. A good designer will have a personal style that appeals to you, be versatile, welcome your input and be reliable and trustworthy.

Contact at least 3 designers so you can compare their services- but remember not make your decision basely solely on perceived cost. You will get what you pay for. If you decide that you want to work with an Interior Designer but can’t afford their costs up front, then ask if they offer instalments for payment, and remember the advice about thinking about the long-term cost over 5 years as mentioned earlier.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR OR CONSIDER?

  • Is the Interior Designer insured? Don’t be scared to ask to see a copy of their insurance document. If an Interior Designer refuses or states they don’t have such insurance in place then this should be a red flag.
  • If there’s something you’ve seen that you like or want, or an item that you want to base your whole scheme around then don’t be shy about telling the designer this. They will hopefully appreciate the legwork you’ve undertaken and realise that it’ll make their job easier.
  • Make sure your communication is open and honest. Be confident about telling your interior designer if there’s something you don’t like. They’re not going to take it personally, and they want you to be happy with the finished outcome. After all it’s you who’s going to live with it or use it. Discuss any concerns with the interior designer BEFORE work starts as correcting mistakes afterwards will undoubtedly cost you money.
  • Misunderstandings over costs cause the most headaches in designer-client relationships. Be realistic and don’t underestimate costs of services. Some prior research should help you with this. Talk to your designer as there may be alternative ways to achieve what you want on your budget and they should be accommodating towards you.
  • Enjoy the process! Reach in and enjoy the journey. It should be fun and easy to work with an Interior Designer.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Stew. Healthy, Hearty, Easy, Tasty.

Wow. It is blustery, rainy and generally very miserable out there today. A perfect day for NOT leaving the house and cosying up indoors. I was planning on posting this recipe anyway, but today seems like a good day to unleash it- so I’m creating this blog post from within my blanket sofa fort.

If you’re like me, the slow cooker has been stashed at the back of the cupboard since the Spring, but this weather signifies that it’s time to drag it out again.

This recipe will feed at least 4 people with hearty, warming portions and is perfect to have as leftovers for lunch at work. If you pop in it the slow cooker before work then you’ll come home to a beautiful smelling home and dinner will be ready to eat. My step-sons love it, and it saves the “What’s for dinner?” questions as they know from the waft as soon as I open the front door. In fact, the youngest has just asked me what I’m writing, and when I explained he said “Oh, can we have that soon please?!” Bingo- social proof.

If you want to make it for 2 people then just halve the ingredients used.

This can be made for under £1 per person too if you’re budgeting but still want to eat healthily and guarantee some of your 5 a day.

Ingredients:

1kg of chicken thighs

500g of peeled Potatoes.

500g of Carrot/Swede.

175g Leeks.

1 medium Onion- diced or roughly chopped.

Garlic (as many cloves/bulbs as you like)

1 litre of Water.

2 x Vegetable or Chicken stock cubes.

Mixed herbs- dried or fresh.

Salt & Pepper for seasoning.

Sunflower Oil.

Cornflour.

Advice:

If you can afford to, support your local butcher- the meat is fresher and generally of better quality. If you’re on a budget then you can buy them boned with skin on in the supermarket for under £2. Just strip the skin before cooking with either scissors or your fingers. Leave the bones on, and they’ll separate when cooking- just make sure to remove the bones before you serve.

To save time with the prep, you can buy the vegetables already prepared, although this will increase the cost and plastic used. Or you can prepare the vegetables the night before so you only have to brown the chicken in the morning.

Method:

  1. Prepare your chicken thighs and season with salt & pepper.
  2. Prepare all your vegetable and place in the pot.
  3. Pour in 1 litre of water and add the stock cubes. It won’t look like there’s enough water but don’t be tempted to add anymore as when the vegetables cook they’ll sweat and release extra water.
  4. Add the herbs and some salt and pepper to the pot.
  5. Place a frying pan on a medium heat and pour a good glug of Sunflower Oil into the pan. Place 2 tablespoons of Cornflour into the oil and stir the mixture.
  6. Place your chicken thighs into the pan and brown one side for about a minute. Turn the thighs over and brown the other side for the same amount of time. You want the chicken thighs to no longer be pink, but you’re just coating the chicken in the mixture.
  7. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  8. Turn the slower cooker on LOW for 6hrs.

If you’re at home then you can stir it every so often, but this isn’t necessary.

If you wish, you can add dumplings too. Supermarkets have a packet mix to make life easier- just add water & pepper as per the instructions when there’s about 2hrs left to cook. Or, get some nice fresh bread and soak up the stock.

And there you have it! An easy to prepare winter warming slow cooker Chicken Stew.

And if you think there’s too much liquid for your liking then you can drain it and use to make a great stock for gravy.

Let me know if you go ahead and try this, and what you think.

The Autumn Edit

This is my least favourite time of the year. The clocks have gone back, the heating has gone on and you think it’s bedtime- only to look at your watch and realise that it’s only 7:30pm.

I also suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (it’s a real thing, I didn’t believe it either at first) which doesn’t help. I need to start shovelling high strength Vitamin D into my face now as my body doesn’t produce enough during the Autumn and Winter months and it drains my energy reserves.

But instead of dwelling on the negatives, I’ve looked for the positives instead- we get to snuggle up at home, potentially spend less money and start to semi-hibernate. We don’t have to shave our legs as often (optional.) Christmas is just around the corner too. And I consume copious amounts of hot chocolate with cream & marshmallows- that’s not a summer drink.

I decided to create my “Autumn Edit” of essential items that will make you feel good and keep you cosy at home, with price points to suit all budgets.

THROWS & BLANKETS.

This is my number one must. Cold? Feeling a bit down or under the weather? Life falling apart? Wrap yourself up in a cosy throw. It’s like a material hug, you’ll feel loads better. Mine is always attached to me on the rare chance I sit down on the sofa, and I spread it over my bed at night as another layer for warmth (it’s better to sleep in a cold bedroom.) I got given my throw from John Lewis as a present, and whilst it might seem a “boring” gift it saved me buying it myself. It’s lasted years and I wouldn’t be without it. In fact each member of the household has their own throw so there’s no stealing, snatching or fighting going on. I’ve selected these throws/blankets for you to browse:

Bargain: Marl Fleece Throw (various colours) from ALDI £9.99.

Mid-Range: Matt Velvet Quilted Throw (various colours & sizes) from NEXT £50-£80.

Luxury: Premium Faux Fur throw 200x250cm (various colours) JOHN LEWIS £95.

CUSHIONS.

Some people hate cushions. They look lovely on the sofa, but then people move them or casually chuck them on the floor. But you need to embrace your cushions- literally. Choose ones that have lovely textures. My partner jokes that I stroke my favourite cushion like it’s a cat. Except it’s not a joke- I do. I actually find it really soothing & calming. I also cuddle them too. It keeps me warm and satisfies my sense of touch. Here’s my favourite textured cushions on the market at the moment:

Bargain: Mongolian Fur cushion 58x58cm (various colours) from MATALAN £16.

Mid-range: Reagan cushion 50x50cm from HABITAT was £60, now £25.

Luxury: Ginko in Coral Velvet Cushion 45x45cm from Annajacobsart.com £79.

CANDLES & CANDLEHOLDERS.

You’ll know that I LOVE candles. It’s not just the scent, but the ambience they bring to every room. Everything looks better in candlelight, and it provides a relaxing, feel-good factor. When buying scented candles have a look at the type of wax used, pay attention to how synthetic they smell and where they’re made- Europe have specific guidelines for companies to adhere to, whereas China, etc do not. Given that candles have the power to burn your house down, I’d definitely recommend that you do your research before purchasing.

Bargain: Buy plain & unscented tealights or pillar candles from IKEA or your local supermarket. Keep them in tealight holders or plain/patterned heatproof glasses or jars so that the candle light dances around the room.

Mid-range: Ok, I’m biased, but Quirk & Colour have 2 candle ranges- LIVING & LUXE. They’re made with Eco & Vegan friendly ingredients, thoroughly tested & insured, and carefully curated to cater for everyone. Prices from £12+

Luxury: Abigail Ahern Gold large pineapple lantern DEBENHAMS £30.

RUGS.

It’s hard enough dragging yourself out of bed on some dark mornings without the shock of swinging your feet out and them hitting the cold, hard floor. If you don’t have carpet in your bedroom (or even if you do) then think about investing in a warm, textured rug and make sure you get out the right side of the bed every morning. I recommend:

Bargain: Anti-Slip Luxurious Faux Sheepskin Rug 60x90cm DUNELM £19.

Mid-range: Home Snuggle Shaggy Runner 150x80cm ARGOS £30.

Luxury: Faux Fur Rug 90x120cm NEXT £90.

HOT WATER BOTTLE.

I hear lots of people saying that they can’t have the heating on because their partner objects, or turns it off again. Regardless of my own thoughts on this matter, they can’t object to you boiling the kettle and filling up a warming, cosy companion for the sofa or in bed. And if they do, then don’t make them their tea or coffee ever again.

Bargain: Hot water bottle with Faux Fur cover GEORGE @ ASDA £7.

Luxury: Multi Fair Isle (lambswool mix) hot water bottle BODEN £35.

LIGHTBOXES.

If you suffer from S.A.D too then seriously consider purchasing yourself a game changing “Light Therapy Box” Turn it on for at least 30 minutes to an hour every morning (not late afternoon or evening as it stimulates your Cortisol levels and too much will affect your sleep.) You’ll soon notice the difference! And if you struggle to get up in the morning and dread turning the light on suddenly and burning your eyes then consider investing in a “sunrise” alarm clock. They might seem expensive upfront, but you’ll use them everyday and you can’t put a price on feeling good every morning. I have both of these products and I seriously recommend “LUMIE” as a trusted brand and company.

Lightbox: LUMIE Vitamin L Slim SAD light JOHN LEWIS £90.

LUMIE Desklamp touch dimmable SAD light JOHN LEWIS £144.

Sunrise alarm clock: LUMIE Sunrise Alarm ARGOS £40.

LUMIE Bodyclock Glow Wake Up to Daylight JOHN LEWIS from £75.

This is the season now to snuggle up indoors in dressing gowns, bed socks and comfy lounge wear. Drink hot chocolate and hot Ribena. Keep warm, keep hydrated, keep moisturised and take extra vitamins if needs be. Relax in a hot bath with as many candles as your bathroom can handle, put on a pampering face pack or stick your feet in a warm, bubbly foot spa or bowl of warm soapy water for even just 10 minutes. Slow down if you can and look after yourself because the Christmas chaos is nearly upon us.

Actually, maybe Autumn isn’t so bad after all…?

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