The Four Key People When Building Your Dream Home – Part 4 – The INTERIOR DESIGNER


Welcome back to THE FINAL PART of my blog series, THE FOUR KEY PEOPLE WHEN BUILDING YOUR DREAM HOME – Part 4, The Interior Designer.  If you are new to my blog– a few months ago, I announced to the world 😱 that our family was FINALLY building our dream house, and I was blown away by the questions I received from so many people about the process.  I decided to start a blog series on the construction process with the hope that I can help or inspire you if you too are in the building process or are just at a stage in your life where you like to “dream about building”, which is what I did for the last 10 years!   In Part 1 – I discussed the importance of the Architect/House Designer.  In Part 2 – I talked about the Excavator.  In Part 3 of this series, I talked about the General Contractor.  And here I am on the final part of my Blog Series, The Interior Designer — which means that I’m officially crazy — and I’m at the point in this journey where I have to really focus on the end goal– which is the completion of #thelaydenlegacy!  I hope I can survive!  Now, that I’m an “official” blogger, I have all of you to hold me accountable, so I have no other choice but to finish what I started!  And if you know me- you know sometimes I start a lot of jobs and don’t always finish them!   Why do I do that?!? 😳🤪😱  I truly owe all of you a HUGE thank you for being there with me throughout this adventure!

I have been WAITING SO LONG to reveal the final part of this blog series because I have anticipated the Interior Design of my house for years!  This is without a doubt my favorite part of the entire project –  and I can’t wait to not only introduce to my Interior Designer, but also shed some light on the process of Interior Design!  The Interior Designer is the person I credit for taking this actual dream of mine – and bringing it to life.  I don’t say that lightly!    My interior designer has truly turned my dreams into a reality, and I can’t even imagine going through the custom home building process without her by my side.  Now do yourself a favor, sit back, grab a COKE, and enjoy my post!


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Should you hire an interior designer?  Ummmm… Yes!!!  WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT you should 100 PERCENT HIRE AN INTERIOR DESIGNER whether you are building or remodeling.  It’s a question I am asked often and I am SO passionate about the answer!  In fact, I personally think hiring an interior designer is NOT something that is even optional in the grand scheme of home building or renovating–  and honestly, I can’t wait to explain why.

Background Information:  I am ‘Just Being Jessica’…I’m just a small town girl with BIG DREAMS.  I’d like to think I’ve accomplished some pretty neat things in my life so far… such as backpacking around Europe for a over a month when I was 21. I  call it an accomplishment mainly because at the life stage where I’m at now, I can’t imagine ever living out of a backpack for a  entire month with only two pairs of shoes (one pair being the shoes that were on my feet at the time).  Just reading that back makes me question if it was really ME that did that?!?

…and then there was that time that I completed the insane task of driving cross country with my (future) husband all the way from Pennsylvania to California and back again, spending an entire summer mainly in a car.  People said we’d never get married after we did that.. but you know what?  I don’t think we argued one time. LOL.   I can’t help but wonder just a little… was that really us?  Haha! Regardless… here we are 18 years later building our home together…. Will our marriage survive the arduous task of building a custom home?  I sure hope so! LOL.

I consider myself a very creative person.  I love art.  I love music. I love and appreciate good design.  I am definitely a left brained person.  I majored in business marketing in college because it was the only area of business where I could use my left brain. Ha!  And then because I had NO IDEA what I wanted to do with my life, I went back to school for computer and education courses.

Why the heck am I telling you this?  Because although I love art, traveling, being creative, helping people, and spending hours on Instagram and Pinterest looking at pictures of home interiors, I 100 percent do not have a background or formal education in Interior Design.  Interior Design is a college major my friends.  Did you know that?  People study design for years to be qualified to do it for a living.  Being an interior designer requires a VERY specific skill set!   I’d like to think I have pretty good taste in regards to home interiors, but there was NOT A CHANCE that I would ever consider taking on a project as large as ours without hiring an expert. It just wasn’t an option for me.   I like to think that the older I get, the more I really am able to hone in on my strengths and weaknesses, and doing the interior design of our new home construction project is just not something I am fully capable of doing.  Bottom line:  The main reason we hired an interior designer is because we are not qualified to design the interior of a home!  If you are in the process of building a custom home yourself-  or just thinking about entering the process, I would highly recommend allowing room in your budget to hire an interior designer.

I sound like a broken record, but my husband and I have waited years to build this custom home.  We will also be working for years to come to pay for it… probably working multiple jobs.  Ha!  I know I have said this over and over again, but we want to do the job the best we can as our budget allows.  This is our forever home and is located in our dream location.  I really want to nail it! (no pun intended)  As I write this post, I will NEVER be building again.  Haha!




It’s a simple principal.  It’s not hard to understand.  Ha.  If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.

I know my abilities.  I don’t have experience in kitchen design.  I’m not an expert in color selection.  Every house has a certain architectural style and the interior finishes should all coordinate. I’d like to think I have good taste, and the current home I live in is cute!  But in all honestly, I could not imagine with a project of this scale, actually selecting all the finishes myself and having everything coordinate.  I can’t imagine having the expertise  to not only select exterior finishes but also have them translate to the interior finishes.  We have too much money invested in the project to NOT hire an interior designer.

Now, I know what you may be thinking – I must have aquired a million dollar inheritance to hire an interior designer.  And although this isn’t true- I can sure hope for a LONG LOST  uncle to find me in the middle of my one horse town and tell me he’s leaving me an inheritance to pay off my mortgage! Haha!  Any lost long rich uncles want to come forward?

YES, hiring a designer did cost us a chunk of change…. And Yes, because I knew I was hiring an interior designer for our project years ago, it took us that much longer to actually be able to start our project, but now that our home is coming together, I have 100% satisfaction that we waited to be able to hire someone to assist!  I still stand by the fact that the cost of a designer is very small in relation to the amount I’d have to spend fixing my own design mistakes later or living with something that just doesn’t look GREAT.

This is how I like to explain it.  Every person who builds a home is putting money into interior finishes regardless!  Example:  I am selecting a tub. I am selecting kitchen finishes. I  am selecting carpeting.  I am painting the house with a certain color scheme regardless.  I  am selecting lighting for every room of the house.  Paying for a designer’s services is simple insurance that everything selected goes together in a dynamic way!   It’s like fireworks at the end of a great date.  It’s like icing on the cake.   And in case you are still doubting if hiring a designer is right for you or worth the investment, please continue to follow along on my journey.  I already have some of my finishes selected, and they are DEFINITELY not going to disappoint!  It’s called MAGIC, and I can’t wait to share the rest of my project with you!


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, interior designers improve the look, usage, and safety of interior spaces.  Their main purpose is to meet the needs of the occupants by enhancing all aspects of the space, including color, lighting, textures, furniture, and spatial relationships.  In a lay person’s terms, the interior designer, working collaboratively with the client, is responsible for selecting the finishes inside and outside of the home.  They conceptualize the client’s needs and wants, and they bring those needs and wants to reality! And in my own words- interior designers truly breathe the LIFE into a custom home project!


Interior design is the art and science of understanding a client’s behavior to create a functional beautiful living space.   An interior decorator is a person who furnishes the space with beautiful and fashionable things.  Basically, an interior designer may decorate, but an interior decorator does not design.  An interior designer is a skilled invidual who completes years of education to be qualified to design a space.  Interior decorators don’t have to receive any form of schooling to use the title of interior  decorator.   Hope this clears up any confusion among the two!


1.  Interior Decorators are NOT Interior Designers. 

See the above statement I made explaining the difference between the two.

2.  Not all interior designers are created equal.   

There are a million designers at every turn that will to do the interior design for your new construction or renovation.  And  I can’t stress it enough-  They are not all equal.

3.  A “degree” in interior design doesn’t necessarily equal an “eye” for design. 

Is it an oxymoron to throw out what I said before about having a degree in design …and say that having the “degree” doesn’t always give you the “eye” or the skill set?  Sometimes you are just born with with it.  Sometimes you either have it or you don’t.  Sometimes good design isn’t all taught.  You know exactly what I’m talking about so please remember this when hiring your interior designer!

4.  You can work remotely with an interior designer!  

Oh my gosh!  I remember when I started scrolling through Instagram, Houzz, and Pinterest and my search for an interior designer began.  I’m not knocking on any designers in my area, but I just wasn’t finding what I was looking for in my small town.   I opened up my search to the entire United States, and that’s when things got interesting.  It’s when I realized that there are interior designers out there that work on projects remotely!  That means, they work on the design for your house via email, skype, facetime, etc.  BOOM. BANG. The sound of my heart!    MY INTERIOR DESIGNER DREAM came true!  The sky is the limit and thanks to the internet and social media, I was able to be connected to the interior designer of my dreams!

5.  Hiring an interior designer is like having a “life line” when things get tough. 

The custom home building process is extremely stressful.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.  It is not for the weak.  It will challenge you.  It will test your strength.  It will twist you in ways you never imagined.  And during these times, having an interior designer will be your life line.  BEST DECISION hands down I made for custom home project.  I have NO regrets.

6.  Hiring an interior designer will actually save you money in the end! 

Yes. Hiring a designer will cost you more money up front… but the long run, it will ACTUALLY save you money.  It will save you stress.  It will save you time in fixing bad design mistakes.  Ask anyone who built a custom home and hired an interior designer if they have any regrets.  I’m certain the answer is the same: NO  REGRETS!


SIT BACK, RELAX, and ENJOY!  Just kidding!

 This is where the work truly begins because picking interior finishes is not for the meek!


1.  Trust the designer.

You hired this person for a reason.  Let the person do their job.  When I first started my project I was really scared to let the designer take the lead for the project.  It took me a month or two, but once I let go, my vision started to really come to light.  It all begins with trust.

2.  Take some risks!   

I love classic timeless design.  I want design I won’t tire of in a few months.  I also consider myself a trendy person.  Don’t be afaid to go beyond what you think your design boundaries are.  It will pay off.  Taking a design risk is what elevates your home and sets  it apart!

3.  Realize the designer has a life outside your project.

Designers work on projects other than yours. They have full schedules.  They manage design projects as well as social media accounts. They have families and they take vacations too.   Know this and respect it when working on your project.

4.  Always be upfront with the interior designer about your budget.

Money…my least favorite topic!  Haha!  I hate talking about it. I just like spending it. LOL.  You need to be upfront with your designer about your budget from the very beginning of the project.  They are sourcing items and you need to make sure you can afford the items that are sourced.

5.  Make sure you sign a design contract.

This is to protect your investment of the design services, and be assured that design services will be delivered on a specified timeframe.



Andrea West DesignI’m forever grateful and indebted to you!  

Now for the “The Million Dollar Question”…

How did I find Andrea? She’s from Utah. I’m from Pennsylvania.  

We have an awesome working relationship miles away!  

How did I do it? Please read on!

1. Hire a designer whose work you love.    

I LOVE Andrea West’s Design Style!  Check out her website and you’ll see what I mean!  The key to hiring a designer is finding someone who has a proven design style that you like.  If you’re building or renovating, start using Houzz, Pinterest, and Instagram.  I’m going to be honest. I found Andrea West by studying Instagram for 2 years.   I knew I was hiring a designer, so I just had to find the RIGHT one.  How did I do this?   I followed 1500 designers and custom home builders on instagram!  I studies the design style of the designers I was following before I reached out. Most good designers are utilizing social media to showcase their projects.  Social media is basically a working portfolio for designers so you can see the examples of the work they’ve done to know if it would be a good fit.  Many designers, like Andrea offer remote design services.  I hired Andrea because I had confidence that collaboratively we could work on my project remotely.  Don’t limit yourself!  All of my research paid off, because I found the ONE for me.  Even my husband says daily that our working relationship is too good to be true.  I agree, I pinch myself often because it does feel that way!  And the best part– I think when my project is all said and done I will have a lifelong friend too!   Andrea is one in a million and I can’t say enough how grateful I am that social media allowed our paths to cross!

2.  Know your budget and find someone who will work with it. 

I knew from the start that I needed to find a designer that could incorporate both high end and budget finishes.  If this is your goal, hiring someone that will only source million dollar light fixtures probably won’t be your best match.    Andrea knew my budget from our first meeting and is willing to work within it to source items that fit the bill.

3.  Find someone you are compatible with.

I needed someone extremely organized and someone that was more Type A than Type B.  I needed someone who would help guide the project and give me deadlines.  I found the compatibility factor in Andrea!  We are a great match.

4.  A designer with a great personality is key.

I love Andrea’s personality.  She is so sweet, and she has the cutest little family.  You are working in close contact with the person you hire for months. Make sure the person you chose is someone you enjoy communicating with.

5.  A designer who is flexible will help your stress, NOT add to it!

All new home constructions have roadblocks.  Make sure the designer you chose understands this and is willing to be flexible. The project almost always takes longer than expected.  Flexiblity is key to a successful designer relationship.

6.  Find someone who CARES about your project.

I feel that Andrea cares about my house as much as me.  Before I hired Andrea, I talking with other designers.  I felt I was just a number… another design project… another money maker for them.  To have a dynamic partner, you must hire someone who cares about your project and is willing to put their heart and soul into the job as well.

7.  Find someone who LOVES design and loves their job!

It’s so easy working with someone who is so passionate about design and loves her job.  It makes the process so much easier!

8.  Go with your gut.

When interviewing designers, select the one your gut tells you too.  Like I said, there a million designers.  You need to find the ONE.  Your gut will not lead you in the wrong direction.

9.  Don’t try too hard to make it work. 

Long before I hired Andrea, I was working with another design company to help with with some floor plan changes and the exterior concepts.  After two meetings, both my husband and I had a very bad feeling.  It was just not working out. If you ever find it the case that the design relationship is not working- don’t be afraid to change designers.  It’s better to change earlier on before you are charged and lose money.    And from my own experience, if you are working with a design firm, be sure that the designer you are paired with shares your vision.  There were many designers at the company I initially hired.  I loved some of the different designers’ work, but the person I was “matched” with didn’t have the same taste as me.  The relationship was too hard from the start, and I can only imagine what it would have ended.


Hire Andrea West Design!  Nope. This post isn’t sponsored. 

I hit the interior designer lottery when I found Andrea.  Oh!  I just love Andrea so much.   For those of you following along, you already know I am a believer in fate, but please know as you follow my blogging journey,  I’m actually a stronger believer in my faith!  Both Scott and my prayers led us to Andrea, and I’m forever grateful for her.  It wasn’t an accident that I connected with her and I have loved every moment of working on #thelaydenlegacy with her.  She has turned a stressful, unfathomable job into being an enjoyable one, and I just can’t wait to share what we’ve worked on so far.  Andrea West Design has exceeded any expectation I have ever had for the design of my home, and I am forever indebted to her for making my dreams a reality.

Andrea- if you’re reading this — from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU SO MUCH!  I believe that for both of us- the best is yet to be, and I’m so excited to be on this journey with you!

Remember, there are lots of sneak peeks on both of our instagram accounts-mine @jessicalayden and Andrea’s instagram account @andreawestdesign




THE EXTERIOR DESIGN FOR #thelaydenlegacy


MY MASTER BATHROOM DESIGN for #thelaydenlegacy


MY DREAM KITCHEN DESIGN for #thelaydenlegacy


Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following our journey. I am so thankful for each and every one of you!  And remember, I’d love to hear from you about what you’d like to see more of!  Beauty? Fashion? Recipes?    Feel free to message me at anytime!

Subscribe by email at the top of the page so you don’t miss a post.  Trust me- what’s coming is SO good. You won’t want to miss it!




1 Comment

  1. Diane Layden
    August 11, 2018 / 8:35 pm

    You look great in orange!

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