Located at the scenic foothills of the northern Drakensberg Mountains, Newcastle is the third-largest city in KwaZulu-Natal. It is situated about 340 km north of Durban (via the N11 and N3) and approximately 300 km south-east of Johannesburg.
The skyline of modern-day Newcastle flaunts quite a few tall structures, including 2 Arcelormittal stacks at 140 m, and 2 stacks from the Newcastle co-generation plant reaching 120 m.
Like any other city, Newcastle is also made up of rich, middle-class, and poor suburbs, including the townships. However, the city has been on a mission to improve the living standards of its previously disadvantaged suburbs via the introduction of new tarred roads, lighting, and planting.
✔ Interior Designers do much more than decorate
Decorating a room with paintings and new curtains forms only part of what an Interior Designer does – in truth, this area is more what Interior Decorators focus on. For Interior Designers, all the other little details of a room / house are just as important as the colour of the rugs, for example. From the electrics and lighting fixtures to the plumbing and ventilation, Interior Designers take into account all relevant factors that help to make a space practical and liveable, and not just beautiful.
✔ Interior Designers involve you in every step
Rest assured that no professional Interior Designer will take over a project and just present you with the final results on the last day. From the very first step, you (as the client) will become involved, since you are not only paying for the process, but will also live in the house after the project has been completed.
From asking you for a list of your favourite colours to helping you sift through various types of materials for sofas, an Interior Designer will make sure that you have a say every step of the way.
✔ Interior Designers tell a story
A designer's responsibility is far more than just making a home look pretty. It is the Interior Designer's job to tell your story, reflect who you are, and show how you live your life by bringing out your personal taste in décor, furnishings, colour swatches, etc.
✔ Interior Designers think about technicalities all the time
Creativity forms a big part of an Interior Designer, but they also have to possess a lot of technical knowledge to do their jobs. Detailed planning, drawings and measuring, liaising with architects and floorers (among other professionals), working with costs and budgets – these are just some of the activities that can make up a typical day in the life of an Interior Designer.
✔ They keep your budget in mind
Don't fear that your Interior Designer will show up on the last day with a heap of fabulous furnishings and present you with a massive bill. From day one, your budget is discussed so that the designer can work out a scope of what elements (décor, furniture, finishes, materials) are appropriate and what aren't. And since you are included every step of the way, you will know precisely what elements are purchased for your project before it is signed off.
There are various questions that are important when meeting with an Interior Designer for the first time (such as "How do you calculate your fees?" and "Have you completed any projects similar to mine?"). However, some of the lesser-known questions which can spark an interesting dialogue between you and your potential designer can include:
✔ Can you source unusual pieces?
From designing/furnishing a brand-new dining room to renovating an existing bedroom, there are countless projects where a seasoned Interior Designer can become involved. That means that no two projects need be the same, especially when clients' personal taste becomes involved.
Seasoned Interior Designers that have built up vast portfolios will also have a wealth of contacts and vendors to help them source unique pieces, from priceless paintings to shabby-chic kitchen tables. Many design firms will allow a client to try an item in their home and then return it if they don't like it, while others want their client to sign off on something before it gets transported.
Make sure you know which category your Interior Designer falls into, and be sure to keep them informed of any unique pieces that you want included in your new home / room so they can incorporate them into their designs.
✔ Can you make my old furniture work in a new home?
Part of what you must discuss with your designer very early on in the project is what new pieces you will require and what old ones you will keep. This is especially important when moving to a new property.
If there are numerous new pieces you'd love for your new space (such as furnishing a giant open-plan living room and kitchen from scratch), inform your designer so that they may set up an inventory of all the required items (i.e. coffee table, sofas, kitchen bar stools), along with photos, dimensions, etc. Vice versa, if you are keeping a lot of your old pieces, your Interior Designer must also be aware of this so that they can be incorporated into the new design / space.
You may just find that, as your project progresses, you feel less sentimental about certain furniture pieces once you see how they look in your new design.
✔ Can you work with some of my favourite items I've collected throughout the years?
It's the personal things that tell a story and make a space come to life. And remember that the project should be about your dream home / space, not the designer's. Thus, be honest if you plan on keeping those vintage side tables, for example, in your new living room. That way, your Interior Designer can adjust his/her design (if necessary) to ensure the final design visually flows.
If you feel that your working relationship with your designer is not right from the beginning, chances are that it won't improve as the project proceeds. Make sure you are both comfortable with one another, that there are clear communication channels, and that your designer understands your brief (your wants, needs, and dislikes) from the very beginning.