So, you’ve decided to move forward with a home renovation, and you have hired a general contractor (GC) – great!

You may be expecting your GC to help you with the design (some advertise that they can), or you want to save money and try to tackle design and purchasing yourself. If you have a GC, do you also need a designer?

Well, I am here to tell you that the decision to put all your eggs in the GC basket is not going to do you any favours! Instead of thinking “designer or contractor”, think about what each professional brings to the table.

staged living room

Here’s why working with a designer alongside your GC can actually save you time, money, and unnecessary headaches during your home renovation.

Saves You Time

When you decide to tackle design by yourself you will likely spend hours scouring the internet for cheap solutions and running around to different stores. What is your time worth? And do you really have time for that amongst the 100 other balls you are juggling? When you hire a professional who plays in this arena you save time simply through our know-how and pre-vetted selections. It is our job, after all, to keep up to date with the latest and greatest options for all budgets.

Between the hundreds of brands on the market, trying to make sense of the psychology of colour, and knowing how to properly stage your home for living, putting all the design pieces together on your own can be overwhelming. 

An interior decorator or designer will be able to source the right products, materials, and finishes efficiently, because we do it every single day. 

Saves You Money

The life of a designer revolves around remodels and renovations. So, although it may sound backwards, our knowledge can save you money by ensuring that you avoid amateur mistakes caused by inexperience. Not to mention, our expertise means higher resale value if you decide to sell in the future!

In addition, interior decorators and designers are privy to trade discounts with manufacturers on many products and materials. These deals allow designers to purchase products on your behalf at a discounted rate and split the savings with you – as is the case with Unshelf :). Depending on the size of the project, these savings can offset the designer fees completely.

Portrait Of Happy Young Couple Sitting On Floor Looking Up While Dreaming Their New Home And Furnishing

Designers also act as trusted advisors by recognizing where you can scale back, helping you cut costs to stay on budget and get the best bang for your buck.

Need help budgeting? We have created 2 PDFs to help you! Through the button below you will find a download for furnishing cost estimates, as well as construction material estimates and design hours!

Brings Your (Functional) Vision To Life

I’ve seen it time and time again with individuals who take on a home reno without a designer – they are so concerned with their house looking stunning, that they forget all about effective use of space. Then, down the road, it’s another reno, because the space doesn’t function for their lifestyle.

On our own or in tandem with a GC, designers will not only ensure that your space is beautiful, but that it is functional as well. We are trained to evaluate space and create a design plan that elevates your home. 

It’s also important to remember that professionals in the industry are serious about staying current on finishes and features to make sure that your space becomes – and stays – beautiful for years to come. We attend Product Knowledge seminars – “PKs”- frequently so that we have a deep understanding of what products are new to the market for all needs.

Relationship Management


Even if you have a designer or contractor, no project ever goes perfectly. 


It’s the truth, and anyone who tells you differently is lying. With so many moving parts from trades to manufacturing (not to mention shipping!), it would be impossible to complete a project without a hiccup! 

surveyor or builder looking at a property

Don’t worry, there’s good news.

When things inevitably go sideways, a designer will know how to advocate for you. It can be intimidating to communicate that something isn’t exactly how you want it, but not for an experienced designer who already has established strong, working relationships with vendors. This relationship also increases the likelihood that vendors will rectify issues faster and with better service, as designers and decorators are repeat clients who bring them a lot of business. 

With these kinds of projects, delays are going to happen. What you need is a professional in your corner with a glass of wine (or kombucha – yum) when they do.

If you’re like a lot of people, the first time you think about hiring a designer is when you’re already in the thick of a remodeling project – but that is too late. We highly recommend bringing a designer on in the early stages of a project so that we can collaborate with the GC to further eliminate the chance of said hiccups. In fact, it can be beneficial to hire the Designer first, as we have connections with wonderful GC’s pre-vetted to work with. At Unshelf Design, we have a 15 step project management system that brings the GC in at step 3! 

In summary, because a designer and a GC have different areas of expertise, the combination is a recipe for a show-stopping home reno! 

Ready to chat? Contact us today!