The image often conjured up by the term interior design is that of having a rather 'arty' individual come in to throw around some unnecessarily elaborate ideas, come up with an over-decorated result, and who will select high end and expensive designer furnishings that you may prove quick to tire of, and successfully part from you a lot of your hard earned cash!

Add to this the fact that the face of interior design has been described by the media as a thing of fun and frivolousness, it is little wonder that people may well consider it a luxury, and certainly a service that does not lend itself to times of financial constraint when we are all pulling in our belts a little.

However there are important considerations to make when deciding to refurbish an interior that lie way beyond the colors of the walls, or the choice of furniture and soft furnishings. There is the messy bit that comes before all of that.

What the interior designer has to offer to businesses and individuals thinking of refurbishing their work and living spaces, is very different. It is valid service that can, in the long run, save time and money, as well as a lot of anguish and heartache.

When approaching a project with professionalism, the designer should always get a brief from the client outlining what they want for their room or building, in terms of use of space, the number of people using that space, and any color schemes the client may have in mind.

The functionality of a building is obviously very important, but so are the aesthetics and other factors such as whether or not the client wishes to maintain existing furniture and features into their new scheme.

In addition to this the profession also has much more to offer. Using professional drawing skills enables the designer to produce scaled plans and accurate 3D visuals, which show the client exactly what a new room layout will look like. This encourages dialogue between client and designer and consequential alterations can be made at the planning and drawing stage to illustrate what alternatives will look like.

Once the designer has been employed, they are there for the duration of the project and so on-going decisions can be made along the way, and obstacles that could be daunting to the novice become opportunities for the designer to tackle. Therefore on-site problems are over as they arise.

Another important factor to consider is the budget. Everyone has either a budget, or an idea of ​​how much they have, or want to spend. To this end it is very important for anyone embarking on an interior refurbishment project to know this information at the outside. Both designer and client are wasting time and resources if the designer comes up with a fabulous scheme regardless of cost, the client loves the scheme, but once all the quotations are in, wham! Its way too expensive. The correct way to approach a new project is with an idea of ​​the budget in order that the appropriate fixtures, fittings and finishes are selected, and they come within any cost constraints.

There are other, rather more tedious aspects of interior design that must be taken into account, such as health and safety, particularly when applying interior design to a commercial use, such as retail interiors, clubs, restaurants and the like.

Your interior designer should be up to date with latest HSE & CDM regulations, and also, more importantly, ensuring that any building and interior installation work is carried out by contractors who abide by these legislation's … and what have insurance!

And finally … your interior designer should then be able to manage and oversee the project for you.

This would normally include: applying for quotations, organizing timesables for work, drawing up specification lists, organizing procurement of goods and materials, on-site visits once the project has begun to ensure work is being carried out to standard and specification, and also to liaise between the client and site contractors.

In essence, this is where your interior designer should help to alleviate some of the stresses of the project, helping it to be delivered on time, and address and overcome any problems that arise on site, when they arise.

So hopefully this will help you to decide for yourself, when undertaking a refurbishment project. You will unduly be taking on builders, decorators, engineers, etc. and facing quite a bit of upheaval in your home or work place. You will be encountering a fair bit or stress. You will also be spending a significant amount of money. So: Is interior design a luxury or a valid service?