When Do You Hire an Interior Designer?

Sooner Than You Think

by Susan Brunstrum – August 29, 2013

Shopping for a second home or selling one? You’re part of a growing trend, according to Paul Boomsma, President of Chicago-based real estate firm Luxury Portfolio International.

During a workshop organized by luxury marketing expert Steve Nobel of New York’s Nobelinks, Paul told a group of interior designers and realtors that second home sales are surging! Why? People have weathered the financial crisis and are thinking about spending more time than ever with family so they can build lasting memories.

But before you sign the closing papers, who do you call? Most buyers would think to bring in a home inspector to check the plumbing and wiring, but how about an interior designer?

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, the best time to start working with an interior designer is before the deal is done. Interior designers understand the possibilities. We can easily see past the current furnishings in a home and have an appreciation for its bones or structure.

For buyers and sellers, we can help point out interior design elements that add value to the home, like the recently renovated, timeless white kitchen…and those elements that don’t, like the yucky old hall bathroom that still has an olive green toilet.

From liability to asset, this master bathroom was updated along with some other areas in the home in 2 months and on the market for only 1 month. Photo courtesy of Sheila Brooks, Prudential Rubloff Properties

We can help both sides see the design potential in a home and evaluate how to spend their design dollars wisely. We’re experts at knowing the rough costs to renovate versus update a master bathroom, add hardwood floors, upgrade kitchen countertops to granite, tile a laundry room or gut a mudroom.

Another liability to asset – this master bath was updated in 1 month before our client put their house on the market to sell

Even if the property is partially or fully furnished – and most vacation homes are sold that way – an interior designer can start thinking about ways to update and personalize it for the buyer without necessarily starting fresh. We know what furnishings can stay and be repurposed and what artwork, rugs and lamps need to be kicked to the curb.


Start to finish – we completed this second home in 3 months. Photo courtesy of Linda Smaligo

This kind of early planning speeds up the move-in process, too. If you start working with an interior designer before you close we can create floor plans and color palettes, order furniture or specify materials to get the project moving so you can start sharing experiences with friends and family as soon as possible.

We looked at this house before the client even purchased it and then spent 4 months totally renovating it.

As a recent second homeowner myself – I just bought a second office/residence in the Gold coast – I know how eager people are to move into their pied-a-terre or vacation home and start having fun. I couldn’t wait!

About the Author: Susan Brunstrum

Susan Brunstrum, founder of Sweet Peas Design, Inc., Libertyville, is proud to be Cheeky’s new interior design maven. She believes that “Cheeky” design means living the lifestyle of your dreams. She has been featured on LXTV, CLTV and many other ‘zines and blogs. Visit her at www.sweetpeas-inspired.com.