How to Choose an Interior Designer
Whether you are moving into a new home or you have decided that your current home needs to be updated, the services of an interior designer can be an invaluable tool. When people come into the store they often ask, “Why do I need an interior designer? Don’t they just pick out colors?” Interior design is so much more. An interior designer can help you with color choices and schemes, but it does not stop there. Have you thought about space planning? What types of floor coverings will fit your current and future lifestyle? The best furniture for children and/or pets? Does the decor style match your personal style? Are you working with a budget? An interior designer can help with all these decisions and more. They also are “in-the-know” about current trends and where to find unique items that will make your home stand out and fit your budget.
What things should you consider before hiring an interior designer? First, your involvement. Some people want to be involved in every step of the process, while others want to be “hands off.” Make sure that whatever approach you want that your designer is able to work with your preference.
Meet with more than one designer. Every designer is different. You want to make sure that you are able to feel comfortable with the designer that you choose, be able to express yourself, feel listened to and that their style of communication matches yours. A good general rule is to meet with at least two different designers, but most experts say that the magic number is three.
Come to the meeting prepared, but open-minded. Try to have some ideas for your space–colors, possible floor coverings and even some design ideas from the internet or magazines. Know what areas of the house you want assistance with and have a budget in mind that you feel comfortable with. A skilled designer will be able to help you determine if your plans will work for your space and for your lifestyle (as well as budget!). Be open to suggestions and other ideas if your ideas are not ideal for your space.
When you are discussing the budget be open and honest. If you only have a certain amount of money, make sure that you clearly communicate that. No one is going to fault you for knowing your limits. Just be prepared that your budget may not be enough to achieve your dream look.
Trust your instincts. A designer may come highly recommended, but if the personality or communication style are not a good fit it may prove difficult during the process.
Have a list of questions ready. Here are some good questions to ask when interviewing potential designer:
- Do you have a particular style that you like? Are there any styles that you don’t like?
- How many projects do you currently have?
- Will I (we) be working only with you, or are there other team members that I will also work with?
- Once you have discussed the project–How long do you think that it will take to complete the project? When would you be available to start?
- Address any lifestyle concerns–Are you alright with pets? Small children? People living in the home that need special care or may not be able to leave daily?
- What is your style for managing a project? What should I expect from you? What would you like me to know or do?
- What do you charge? What does that include? What are the payment terms? What type of guarantee(s) do you offer?
- How will you track my budget? How and when will you update me?
- Ask about green design or environmentally friendly options if they are important to you.
- Who will have access to my home? How are they insured?
Make sure to look at several different projects that they have done or assisted with. Ask them to provide several references. Make sure to check the references and ask questions related to the ones above but from the client’s perspective. Once you have decided on a designer make sure that everything is outlined and in writing very clearly. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
Lastly, enjoy the process. The designer is there to take some of the stress away from you.