I know what you might be thinking. “Hire an interior designer? Heck, I can do it myself and save some money in the meantime.”
Really? Is that what you honestly think? Well I’d like to try and set the record straight!
Here are some things to think about when weighing your options:
• Regardless if whether you have a crystal clear idea of how you want your home to look or are totally clueless, an interior designer can help you conceptualize the space and put it all together. This might be your first home or frankly, even if it is your tenth, an experienced interior designer will have much more experience than you do and will ultimately save you from making design mistakes that will cost you time and money.
• Doing the space plan and decorating a home are very time intensive activities and an interior designer can cut that time by half and save you the time and stress that are usually associated with construction and searching for furniture and accessories. Their vast experience provides them with “insider” information enabling them to purchase exactly what you desire without the endless forays that you might have in order to locate the pieces that you want.
• The ability to identify the right color palette for a space is borne out of years of experience and an interior designer can help guide you towards making the best selection with acknowledgement of your personal preferences, light quality, room usage and more.
• Buying furniture that is actually well suited for the space is another facet of interior design that is best accomplished by a professional. Dimensions aside, the sofa that looks so perfect in the showroom just might not fit in the room for which it is intended. Save yourself the trauma of buying pieces that are simply wrong for the space.
• Designing a space takes coordination with vendors. Furniture, lighting, window treatments, cabling and more have to be managed and timed so that everything happens when it is supposed to happen. An interior designer will project manage the process so that you are not sitting in a home that has no furniture or lights.
Your home is quite probably one of your largest expenses. It is also the place that you return to after a tough day, the place where you spend a significant amount of “down-time.” You want it to be comfortable, commodious and beautiful.
That being said, working with an interior designer might just be the best decision that you can make.
If you’re like most New Yorkers, then you probably want – or need – more living space. But the problem? Larger New York apartments sell for more per square foot than smaller ones. Each square foot of space will cost you about $838 for a studio, $1,119 for a two-bedroom and $1,837 for a four-bedroom, according to the New York Times. Add renovation fees and maintenance costs to that expansive dwelling space, and you’re left with an even bigger bill.
More and more city dwellers are finding a new solution to the problem: combining two apartments into one to get something closer to the dream-home ideal. Buy a one-bedroom for less than $1 million, scope out a similar space next door or on an adjacent floor, and you can walk away with a space that’s mysteriously more spacious than many two-bedrooms on the market. The process isn’t without its challenges, but more and more New Yorkers – and real-estate professionals – are opting for the patchwork solution as heavily desired three- and four-bedroom homes dry up from the market.
Eileen Mintz, senior vice president at The Corcoran Group, says most co-op boards don’t oppose combining apartments if renovation plans maintain the building’s integrity with plumbing and electricity. “For owners, it’s usually less costly to purchase and combine the apartment next door to their current apartment than to purchase a larger apartment elsewhere,” she explains.
But how does it work out in reality? For one space-starved client, I helped reconfigure a two-bedroom apartment, combined with a one-bedroom. (Results above.) The place became a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment – but with an expanded kitchen to accommodate a sit-down island with a pantry closet. The master bedroom became a suite including an office/library, walk-in closet, bathroom with a steam shower and a small gym with a rowing machine, bicycle and weights. Two living rooms became one open space with a dining area. When the client remarried, his bride had an apartment with a wrap-around terrace, so he sold his place and made a substantial profit that would have been impossible with separate places.
Town Residential Real Estate Specialist Gina Sabio says the process isn’t all perks, though. “Combining two apartments is an excellent way to get more space,” she says. “Although the cost of buying two apartments and combining them will cost you less, keep in mind the monthly maintenance will be combined from both apartments and increase accordingly every year.”
Terry Robison, a Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate agent, recommends planning for another fee: short-term housing during renovations. However, he says that combining apartments can be “a gift from real-estate heaven,” as long as the process gets proper attention. “Your co-op board knows you, so the approval process to buy that other unit is likely to go much smoother than if you were a new buyer,” he says. “Overall, the pluses far outweigh the minuses.”