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Q&A With Joy Moyler: Design Tips on Trends and Budget

Joy Moyler on how to work with an interior designer and budgeting for one, to the best materials for kitchens and bathrooms

Image of interior designer Joy Moyler

(Above) Interior designer Joy Moyler

Sweeten’s founder and CEO, Jean Brownhill and interior designer Joy Moyler met virtually to discuss how to navigate a remodel for the best possible home. Joy, a designer listed in Architectural Digest‘s 2021 AD 100 and Elle Decor’sA-List for two years in a row, shares tips on working with a design professional and what she thinks about today’s trends.

Watch the whole Instagram live video with Joy Moyler here.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

Jean: When should you include a designer in your home renovation project?

Joy: As soon as you know you want design services for a home renovation project, get an interior designer on board. Do that immediately after you’ve sat down and identified your scope of work because you want the designer to understand what your goals are.

You want to hash through those design elements very early on so your designer can help convey that design intent to your contractor. That’s what really starts the language to make certain that your contractor understands your needs and the budget implications of your overall design goal. Your designer and your contractor will work in tandem to achieve those goals and mitigate any construction problems which may arise, particularly if you’re working in an older home.

Jean: Where do you start with a designer? How do you know what style you want?

Joy: Most clients don’t really have a real definition of particular styles. If you ask them, ‘What’s your design style?’, they don’t necessarily know that. Folks will often say, ‘Here’s a Pinterest board’ and they try to develop a mood from that because they can’t really identify the styles.

They don’t really know what’s contemporary, what’s Baroque, what’s Art Deco, what’s classical. But they can look at something—an image—and that visual exactly identifies how they feel. Do they feel relaxed? Do they feel comfortable? Do they feel like they’ve been transported to another country? Do they like exotic elements, bohemian elements? How those items make them feel is really the storybook for what you want to tell.

Jean: How do you budget a designer?

Joy: Designers charge either flat fees or project fees. If you’re not really certain about whether you can splurge on a big project and have your designer see the project all the way through, you might just hire a designer to essentially do a concept fee. That designer will then sit down with you, identify your scope of work, and try to pull in elements and materials that you like. Identify the wood finishes. Do you want porcelain floors, tile, floors, marble floors? What kind of tile do you want? Do you want simple, basic subway tiles? Do you want a really elaborate laser-cut fancy tile?

Once you decide these things—and I recommend that you bring samples to your first meeting—go to any Home Depot or materials tile store. Get samples, sit down with your designer, even on your initial consultation and say, ‘These are the kinds of things I like’ because they start to identify early on where your budget’s going to go. As you’re developing your scope of work, you’re identifying for that person what the overall budget is going to be. The designer can help identify how many hours they will need to spend on the project. That’s what’s ultimately going to determine the designer’s fee, and how much time they need to commit to the project to see it through.

Again, if you don’t have a big budget for a designer, which is going to start likely at $5,000 for a concept fee or similar, at least you get enough to share with a contractor.

Jean: Is the black matte finish trendy?

Joy: I absolutely think it’s going to be trendy. I particularly recommend staying away from trends. If you anticipate being in your home for 30 years, in five years, you’re going to want to rip that black hardware out.

I suggest you stay within the realm of the nickels, maybe patina brass, unlacquered brass, which is going to take on a lovely patina over time and is one of my favorites, but these sort of yellow and white metals have longevity. They’ve been around hundreds of years and they work within any environment whether it’s contemporary, ultramodern, or traditional.

Image of a repurposed vanity table in a bathroom

(Above) Sweeten homeowners Liz and Kevin’s bathroom remodel

Image of a closeup black cabinet with silver cabinet handles

(Above) Sweeten homeowners Dawn and David’s kitchen remodel 

Jean: What do you think about the subway tile trend? How do you personalize it?

Joy: I’m seeing a lot of subway tiles everywhere. I think at one point, everyone’s going to just start saying, ‘I’m ripping out all these baths with all this subway tile, because it’s just everywhere.’ It’s sort of over-saturating all of the imagery right now. And I understand it. It’s a nice clean look. It’s extremely affordable. So your money goes a long way. But if you’re going to do the subway tile, instead of it all being white, I suggest you integrate some sort of graphic pattern and change the directions of the tile.

Jean: What is the best flooring for kitchens and bathrooms?

Joy: I am really a lover of porcelain tiles. Extremely durable, easy to clean, maintenance-free. I think that there are so many different textures to porcelain tile now that it looks like wood in a lot of applications. I don’t really recommend wood in a kitchen, but there are so many beautiful porcelain tiles that have graining to them. They have nice color ranges that really look like wood. I think they’re fantastic.

I never use polished marble in bathrooms due to the slip hazard. When they get wet, you can break your neck. So stick to matte finishes, you’ll save your life.

Image of a built-in oven in a renovated kitchen

(Above) Sweeten homeowners Gina and Andrew’s kitchen remodel

Jean: What do you think about Ikea kitchens?

Joy: I’ve seen some lovely kitchen’s done with Ikea cabinetry. When it’s done with some beautiful stone tops and Ikea cabinets, I think it’s beautiful. I enjoy seeing glass inserts in the uppers, I’ve actually done this on a project.

Thank you to Joy Moyler for sharing your knowledge and tips with us! 

ADUs or accessory dwelling units can transform into home offices, living space for family or as a rental, or a retreat.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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