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Designing your space is a very personal experience. If you are thinking about hiring an interior designer, or if you are just thinking about making some changes or redesigning your space yourself, there are a number of questions you should ask the designer, or yourself.

Before you spend $1 on products or services, think about what you really like and want to achieve. There are always surprises in a project. To the extent you can think things through before you begin, you can minimize those surprises.

It may seem obvious, but you should ask yourself and your designer what your goals are for the project before you begin. To arrive at the answer to that question, you should discuss the specific space/items you want to address: do you want to remove, change, add or install features? Ask yourself what you love about the space and aim to maximize that feature. Equally, consider what you hate about the space and focus on changing that feature.

Most importantly, how do you use or intend to use that space? An area in which you want to entertain can be very different from an area that serves as your private library. And what is the extent of the work—is it paint, furnishings, lighting, flooring, etc.? Remember that changing one thing almost always leads to the need to change/repair something else.

For example, if you want to eliminate a wall separating two rooms, you will need to consider flooring, painting, and lighting implications.

It is very important to look through, (and share with your designer if you are using one), examples of designs you like. What styles do you want to achieve? In what object, photo, painting, or color do you find inspiration? You may not like every aspect of a design, but you like this color or that shape. Try to be as specific as possible. Look at fabric samples, design magazines, or other concrete materials together with your designer or your life partner.

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The website Pinterest can also be a great source of ideas. I will often set up a private Pinterest board with a client so we can share design features we like.

You may not realize it, but you are drawn to certain aesthetics in a probably consistent manner. Look around you at the things you own or like, whether it is home décor, fashion, artwork, or nature.

Are you lured by the traditional or the modern? Softness or hardness? Do you find yourself attracted to shapes that are circular (curved) or square (angular)? If you think about it, you will quickly notice that you naturally choose one shape over the other. Once you realize your preference, keep that in mind as you choose fabrics or furnishings as well as other remodeling concepts.

Likewise, do you gravitate toward prints or solid designs? Do you prefer matte or smooth textures? What colors do you love or hate? Any color can be made to look new again if it’s paired with more current colors. Answering these questions before you begin a project will go a long way toward guiding you and your designer.

Finally, what is your budget? We all want more than we can usually afford, but mapping this out ahead of time is critical. You may find that you are willing to pay less for some features and more for others. You also may find that your complete ideal can be achievable in phases. This process helps you to prioritize your wish list and budget at the same time.

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Deborah Macdonald is the owner of Textured Design Napa. Contact her at 707-255-0246, Deborah@textureddesignnapa.com, www.textureddesignnapa.com.

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