Building & Renovating

7 Valuable Tips An Interior Designer Gives To Clients And Friends

Pay attention to this interior designer who will honestly tell you what it takes to make your space work!

Photography: Michael Angelo Chua (Main Photos)

Wouldn’t it be great if you had an interior designer as a close friend? Not only will she have sound advice on how to spruce up your space, she will also give you her honest opinion so that you’d avoid any potential mistakes.

Take it from interior designer and longtime Real Living contributor Kat Villanueva Lopez, who shares in her blog the candid and heartfelt tips she gives to her clients and friends when they embark on their renovating and redecorating journeys. Here is an excerpt of her article:

1.  Have pictures and pegs of what you want. In design, there can be a lot of misunderstandings if we only use words to describe what we want.  That's why I always ask for visual representations, be it in the form of photos or actual examples. [You might say:] "I want yellow." What kind of yellow? There are several shades of yellow. [Or you might say:] "I want Modern." Now, lest we get into a lecture of period styles and the history of design, wouldn't it be better to just have a photo? It's easy, just Google it—there are tons of photos on the Internet.

2.  Hire a designer or architect to make plans of the design. This will give you a visual idea of what the space will look like. It is also important to have floor plans and scaled drawings to see if the elements will fit in the space. Having these will also help the contractor make a precise estimate. These visual representations with measurements and details help eliminate misunderstandings and complications in the long run.  

3.  Avoid for now purchases. Have the design but no budget yet and you’re itching to buy something for the house? If you're really set on implementing the design in the future, follow the design even when buying small items. Money spent is money spent—why not spend that money on items that are within the design? This way, you're one step closer to completing the items on the list. Be it one chair or a few pillowcases, you'll be glad to have those items match instead of having to dispose of them in the future, or worse, changing the design and keeping them just because it's sayang.


4.  Go for value-for-money choices. Big sales and discounts in major stores are really tempting versus custom-made items. A friend of mine asked me to quote for cabinets and some furniture for their home.  They got everything from us except for the bed, because they found one on sale.  My price was around P30,000 plus, while the one on sale was only P17,000. While we were onsite working on their cabinets, the bed was delivered. After a week, they found the bed unstable and asked if we could reinforce it with plywood, etc. and so we did. After a month, they said they should've just purchased the bed from us instead. Custom-built items are often better mainly because of the quality and service from start to finish.  

5.  Hire a professional contractor. Unless you're well versed in construction, I suggest you hire a contractor than handling [the renovation] yourself. I am often faced with clients wanting to save [money] by buying the materials and hiring carpenters themselves. Given the contractor profits from providing the entire scope, hiring an actual contractor will still save you a lot of headaches and costly mistakes in the long run.

6.  Finish the space. Ideally, wouldn't it be nice if we all had the money to finish an entire house in one go? Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Some of us have other bills to pay: mortgage, rent, car loan, tuition fees, etc. The top (pun untended) item I always urge my clients to fix is the roof. Faulty roofing can mess up your health and anything you have inside: electrical, paint, furniture, carpet, wood, and so on.  As tempting as it is to follow the correct process or order of finishing a home (masonry, carpentry, painting, furnishing, etc.), I often suggest clients to finish at least one space. This way, clients can enjoy seeing and using a beautiful space at the end of the day.


7.  It’s okay to go against the norm. A house typically has a living, dining, kitchen, laundry area, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Typically is the keyword. I believe that in your house, your rules should apply (as long as it doesn't go against the Building Code). Why keep a living room if you won’t use it? If you receive and entertain guests in the dining room, scrap the living room and use those resources in making your dream dining area.  

You can read the rest of Kat Villanueva Lopez’s advice in "12 Tips I Love To Give Interior Design Clients and Friends" in her blog 12 Minute Blogger. Follow Kat on her Facebook page. All interiors on this page are by Kat. 

More on


Latest Stories

Here’s How You Can Reduce Your Electricity Consumption

Have your electricity bills got you feeling the heat? Create a more energy-efficient home with these tips

Avoid These Flowers If You Have Allergies

These pretty blooms may only end up doing you more harm than good

How to Organize Items You Can’t Throw Away

Avoid clutter while still keeping items with sentimental value

These Tricks Can Help You Update a Tiny Bathroom

Give your T&B a fresh look without spending too much

You Can Use These Kitchen Items To Get Rid Of Rust

Keep your trusty metal tools in good condition

Erwan Heussaff Has a Secret Kitchen Trick

It's the secret to cooking perfect lechon pork belly

Here's How To Care For Your Non-Stick Pans So They'll Last Longer

Are you afraid that the non-stick surface on your pan might get scuffed off? Here's how to avoid that.

The Secret To A Beautiful Garden: Make A Focal Point

If a garden is a show, the focal point is the main act. Here's how to add interest to your own garden.

Here's How To Make Your Bed In 60 Seconds Or Less

It's the lazy homeowner's hack to getting more ZZZs!

How To Be A Good Design Client

Are you keeping your side of the bargain? Here's how you can maintain a harmonious relationship with the design professional you're working with.

Do You Know What Food Items To Throw Out After A Power Outage?

Keep food safety a priority in times of natural disasters

Yes, You Can Grow Sili At Home

Follow these easy steps and you can have free chili peppers for life!
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!