The Best Way to Work with an Interior Designer

By: Katie Anderson
June 13, 2018

The Best Way to Work with an Interior Designer: An Interview with Thayer Hopkins

thayer-hopkinsBuilding a home involves both an interior designer and an architect, and their working relationship will determine your project’s success. Mutual respect and open communication are essential to these projects, and will result in a home you’ll love to live in.

I recently spoke with Thayer Hopkins, principal at Thayer Hopkins Architects, to discuss how and why the architect-interior designer relationship is built. As a long-time architect and San Francisco native, Thayer knows how to create unique homes while building exceptional client relationships.

“I approach every project with fresh eyes to absorb what the client is looking for,” he explains. He’s intrigued by history and local materials, and prefers to work within the confines of nature to create projects that are eco-friendly while also enjoyable to live in.

Thayer’s practice focuses on passive design, which uses the land’s characteristics to benefit the home. By designing for solar orientation and seasonal changes, Thayer and his team can create beautiful and energy efficient homes that don’t disturb existing natural elements.Save

How to Find Your Interior Designer and Architect

One of the reasons Thayer and I work well together is our mutual respect. He shares, “It starts with a genuine respect for competence and areas of expertise.” While an architect designs the home’s foundation and floorplan and the interior designer typically designs the inside, it’s best to bring the interior designer into the process as early as possible.

In this way, we can create a collaborative process between the architect, builder, and myself. When we focus on what Thayer describes as “the reality of how people live”, we can design a space that serves them well.

Some homeowners find their interior designer before the architect, and vice versa. Many architects prefer to work with a select few interior designers, and will bring them in based on experience, availability, and specialties.

I operate the same way within my practice. I’ve built relationships with everyone from builders to furniture makers to architects, making what could be a stressful home renovation a smooth process.


Your Interior Designer Should Be Involved from the Start

Planning a home build without an interior designer is like shopping for a dinner party without your menu. An architect plays a critical role in building a new home, but the collaboration between the architect and interior designer is what creates a beautiful finished product.

By bringing me on early in the process, Thayer and I design the foundation with the end in mind.

While many architects will keep appliance size in mind, do they also consider the type of furniture you want in your breakfast nook, or the living room layout you love?

Beginning from a place of partnership ensures that you have the final product you love, where the building and the furniture exist in harmony.

Mutual Respect Is Essential for Quality Home Design

When I asked Thayer his top three essentials for a project, his number one point was mutual respect. This is also why we work well together. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we know each other’s creative potential. Every party deserves respect, and we always operate this way.

From the client to the builder, this collaborative approach establishes the value that each brings to the table. Each person has their strengths, which Thayer and I use to your advantage throughout the design and build process.

Focusing on Open Communication when Building a Home

thayer-hopkins-interior-work-2I insist on open communication for every project, because this ensures that problems will be minimized and everyone will know where the project is each week. This is particularly important for new home builds, because it’s a long-term project with many different pieces. When everyone involved knows the status, we can adjust timelines, purchases, and budget needs accordingly.

This clarity also enhances the responsibility each party has within the project, so each piece is completed and we have clarity.

Working with a home design team that includes an established architect and interior design team is one of the most important aspects when building a home. When there’s mutual respect and open communication between your architect and your interior designer, you can be assured that the final product will be exactly what you’re envisioning. The furniture will fit, the appliances will work seamlessly together, and it will feel like you’ve always lived there.

Ready to make a change in your home or business?  We would love to talk to you about it so give us a call at 415-722-9124.