Should You DIY Your Interior Design or Hire a Pro?

When it comes to designing your space, here's a guide to help you decide whether to hire a professional designer or go DIY. By Kathleen Valle

Can you achieve a dreamy home environment if you hire an interior designer or can you do it yourself? (Photo by Vinicius Amano on Unsplash)

For brand new condo owners, the thought of having an unfurnished home could be partly exhilarating, partly an anxiety-causing scenario. One of the most common and important questions is to whether get your space professionally done by an interior designer or choose a more “personal” and inexpensive approach also known as the do-it-yourself route. Both options have its pros and cons.

If you need help in deciding how to turn your condo into a dream living environment, here’s a little guide that we’ve put together with insights from licensed interior designer Dagny Madamba to help you come up with a choice:

To Hire a Pro

If the scope of design work or renovation is extensive and exhaustive. Do you envision moving into a home that at once looks polished and ‘pulled together’? Getting an interior designer would be more ideal especially if you’re working on a tight timeline or significantly lack the technical skills and industry know-how.

According to Madamba, “There’s less room for error when hiring an interior designer. There’s less worry about re-doing built-ins, style of an interior is cohesive all throughout the home, and IDs are more inclined to know materials and even sources for quality finishes and furniture.”

If you have specific space planning needs. Interior designers have been trained and equipped with the technical knowledge to execute solutions for your particular space concern. Whether it’s maximizing a studio to use as a living space and home office, or to make a one-bedroom unit work for a family of four, an ID would be able to come up with an efficient space planning that addresses your needs and at the same time, manage to make the space look great.

Read: It’s Possible: Home Design on a Budget

If there is a plan to rent out the unit. Not all unit owners acquire a condo for them to live in. There are some who buy one for investment, one of which is short-term lease such as for a space-sharing app. In this case, a professionally done unit would appear to be more desirable especially since guests tend to book units whose photos look good online (and prove to look just as good in real life).


If you have the technical and industry know-how. Though a passionate interest in interior design as evident in your collection of shelter magazines and books certainly count in designing your own space, technical know-how is another matter. But if you’re still keen on going the DIY route, Madamba suggests that you familiarize yourself with terms used in design so you can communicate well with your contractor or carpenter. “Research heavily on the renovation or design that you plan on doing. It’s always best to consult and work with a good contractor. Try to look into their past projects to see the kind of work they turned over. Bringing a tape measure whenever you source for materials, furniture or even decor…the tape measure comes in handy [to make sure everything fits to where you’re planning to put them].”

If you’re working on a tight budget. Now this one is tricky. It has been said before that correcting mistakes from misguided decorating decisions could be more costly than hiring a pro, but if you’re confident of the above point and you work with a reputable, honest contractor, going DIY might be a better option especially if you really don’t have a budget for hiring an ID. This route might also work for you better if you don’t plan on going all out on designing your space at once.

Watch: Easy DIY Wall Decorations

If you’re not in a hurry. There are some homeowners who relish the stages and processes of furnishing their home sans the pressure of having to finish at a given time. Those who like the “work in progress” look, or are willing to wait for the perfect piece of furniture or wallpaper instead of picking up these pieces together in one or two shopping trips, might benefit from the DIY approach.

Bonus: Half and Half

Still undecided? If you want to hire a pro but are hesitant of the cost or of the commitment involved (“What if the ID and I don’t get along well?”, “What if it turns out her style isn’t match with mine?”), consider having just one room or area made to test it out (and not too overwhelming on your budget). And don’t get too intimidated to ask for an initial consultation. “There is nothing wrong with asking for their professional fee. Most interior designers will accommodate inquiries,” Madamba said.

Once you decide on an ID to work with, “do not be afraid to let your interior designer know that you want your personality to shine through the design. Designers usually consider these things in their design,” she added.