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Interior designers creating casual spaces

According to Casual Living’s exclusive survey, designing casual living spaces, whether indoors or out, is not a new activity.

How involved are interior designers in designing casual spaces? That is the question, as Shakespeare might have put it.

To find out, Casual Living asked interior designers themselves.

According to Casual Living’s exclusive survey, designing casual living spaces, whether indoors or out, is not a new activity. More than half said their residential customers began to ask them to design casual living spaces more than five years ago. Conversely, less than one-fifth started such activities within the last year.

Even more importantly, designs for casual living spaces (either indoors or outdoors) represent a substantial measure of interior designer’s annual design revenues. One quarter of the interior designers derived somewhere between 26% to 50% of their revenues last year from such work. And 13% said more than one-half of their revenues last year came from designing for casual spaces.

They expect casual living spaces to represent a good portion of their work this year as well. Nearly two-thirds expect casual living revenues for 2008 to remain about the same as in 2007. While about one-quarter anticipate their revenues will be higher, only one-tenth estimate design revenues will be lower than in 2007.

The tickets for these projects run a median of $15,000, according to the designers. About one-third of the respondents reported the cost came in at less than $9,000. More than one-third gave the average cost more than $9,000 up to $25,000. And about three-tenths said the cost exceeded $25,000.

Interior designers honed in on the underlying forces behind the casual lifestyle. Asked to comment on those driving forces, more than one-third identified a desire among clients to make a resort at home. Other designers cited a trend of extending the interior into the outdoors, thereby expanding the home’s space and livability. Clients are also becoming more aware of possibilities due to the popularity of HGTV and its myriad shows geared towards improving one’s surroundings. Heightened awareness of good designs and styles along with innovations in products have produced a wider array of furnishings for outdoor use that can withstand the elements, ranging from sun and snow to dogs and kids.

It should come as no great surprise that interior designers specify more and different products for interior use on casual living projects than they do for exterior use; but not by much. Three of the top five products going into outdoor casual living projects were also among the top five for indoors — dining furniture, occasional tables and conversation groups. Those same three, along with chaise lounges and outdoor lamps, rounded out the top five for outdoor use.

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