How to Work With and Select an Interior Designer

In my view, the role of the interior designer is to create rooms and other indoor spaces that are attractive, comfortable, and functional while celebrating the essence of beauty and design; incorporating the client’s life and lifestyle into creating an environment that is unique to each client.  Most homeowners are confused about what to do with their interiors and often wonder if it would be advantageous to hire a professional.  One might think that interior designers are out of their league, difficult to work with, or cost prohibitive if one is is on a budget.  I can assure you this is a myth.  You simply need to find the right “fit” for you and your project.  The interior designer is able to work as a client’s advocate, aiding to achieve goals within a budget and timeline.  There are some simple steps in choosing and hiring an interior designer that can make the process enjoyable and will often end up saving the client thousands of dollars by avoiding costly mistakes in the end.  The designer’s guidance, knowledge and expertise are well worth the investment.

•  Take the time to interview a prospective designer to get a sense if you feel you can create a partnership in decorating your home or initiating a remodeling project.  You may want to see a portfolio of work they have done, ask for referrals and what their expertise is.  Take time to check out their web site.  You will also need to determine how extensively you will be working with him/her.  Do you need consulting on an hourly basis or a complete home service?

• Trust your intuition.  Does the designer listen to your needs?  Does he/she have the resources available to facilitate the entire project?  Is the designer willing to work within a budget and be able to create your project within that figure?  Please keep in mind that most projects have over-runs between 10% -30% due to change orders, add-ons and there may be some construction involved.  Most clients get caught up in the momentum and often add on more than they initially anticipated.

• Be certain to communicate the time frame in which you expect the project will be completed.  Be realistic. If you are ordering a custom piece you may have longer lead times than you expect.  As there is no such thing as a “completed home”, what would be necessary to come close as possible to your desires?

• Do your homework before starting a room.  Cut out pictures from magazines, books, etc. and keep them well organized in a folder to share with your designer your tastes and style, or you may see be a special piece of furniture you would love to have in your own home.  Think about your favorite colors.  Consider the uses the room will serve.  This is very important.  Again be realistic.  Will it be used during the day and night or just during one time period?  Will the room need to be versatile?  Consider how you live throughout an average week.

• Who will be using these rooms and what say do they have in the final outcome?  How committed are you to doing this project on time?  Do you have a special event that you are preparing for?

• Finally, enjoy working with your designer, and remember it is a partnership that demands good communication and decision-making.  It can be a wonderful, fulfilling experience for both of you.