If you’ve resolved to start that life-changing home project this year, whether its a new build house, or a small kitchen extension, the prospect can be a little daunting. It can be difficult to know where to start; should you hire a design professional? If so, where can you find the right person?
Designforme.com is a new website that will matchmake your project with 100s of residential architects, interior or garden designers across the UK. The site was started by architect, Emily Barnes, who is passionate that high quality, custom home design should be accessible to everyone. Emily explains how it works and where the idea came from…
“There are a range of very talented designers on the site with varying degrees of experience, design styles and expertise. From freelance students to award-winning practices, the aim is to find just the right fit for any given project and the homeowner’s particular design and budget.”
Design for Me launched as a beta version last year, the response from homeowners and designers has been overwhelmingly positive. It already has over 500 users and numbers are growing fast.
“I think it’s great that people are getting excited by and engaged with the design of their homes, and understand how good design can enrich their lives. The feedback has been really fantastic. Before starting Design for Me I found there was a common preconception that high-quality, custom design is reserved for the wealthy and privileged. With the right match it doesn’t have to be anymore. Off-the-peg houses and copy/paste extensions are a missed opportunity to realise the potential of a home and a family’s needs!”
How it works
Rather like a dating site, you post your details and you’re matched with the most suitable candidates. You then shortlist your favourites, and invite three interested designers to meet. To help you choose, the designers have a match score, images of their work and reviews from past clients. It’s free to post your project, browse and shortlist. Once you’ve established some interest from designers you like, its £35 to invite up to three of them for a consultation. This where you can discuss a project in more detail, see how you get on, and obtain quotes.
Watch the video:
Design for Me is also providing an effective portal for designers to find and choose projects suitable for their specific business. Richard & Ellie MacRae, based in Suffolk are registered on the site, and recently won a job for a new build house through Design for Me:
“The website is a great idea. We’ve already had a number of enquiries through Design for Me and look forward to getting even more this year!”
Some of Richard and Ellie’s work from their profile on designforme.com:
Emily on where the idea came from:
“My first architecture job was in a practice that mainly worked on large residential developments. I was surprised at the number of people who called up asking if we could work on their private house. I found this frustrating as I knew would be loads of architects out there perfect for this job. It should be easier than this!
I’ve also had friends and family come to me with their projects over the years. Unfortunately I couldn’t always say yes when I was overloaded with other work. Instead, I played matchmaker and put them in contact with friends who I knew would be right for it. They were very grateful and admitted that they wouldn’t have known where to start. So hopefully Design for Me will play matchmaker for lots of other people too!”
And how it came to life:
“The idea and concept for Design for Me evolved over a couple of years and I initially obtained some funding from Start-Up Direct, a company headed by Dragon’s Den’s James Caan. The majority of the build and development of the site was done while I was working full time as an architect. Last summer, I left work to focus full time on Design for Me.”
Design for Me has attended home shows in London and Manchester when signing up the first homeowners, and have started hosting the ‘Ask an Architect’ area, where some of the architects from the site come along to give free consultations on the day.
“Design for Me will be attending more home shows in 2015, but we’re also now reaching out to a wider audience. While it was in the beta phase, we mainly expanded as a word-of mouth thing. I’m really looking forward to seeing Design for Me bring together many more homeowners with their perfect designer this year.”