5 tips for hiring an interior designer
Find your designer BEFORE you find your builder/architect or
at least before you start a build project
Getting a designers eye on your home before you approach builders and architects can help you get the most out of your project and avoid having to back track. A designer may have ideas that you haven’t even dreamt up yet or they may even make suggestions that would save you construction time and budget. Having your designer on board to draw up preliminary plans and scope for you to then bring to a builder will help the bid process go faster and ensure you are getting the most out of your project. Your designer may also have builders they have worked with in the past that they can recommend. Having a team that speaks the same design language can be cut out a lot of headaches in the future.
2. Make sure your aesthetic matches up
Stalk their social media and portfolio. You should be pickin’ up what they are puttin’ down. You should love their projects. If you feel like french country is your hearts desire, DO NOT hire a designer with a portfolio full of modern minimalist projects just because someone recommended them. It just doesn’t work. Some designers work across many different styles (I don’t understand this but they do exist!) but my recommendation is to find someone that specializes in the look and feel you are after.
3. Be prepared! Questions, ideas, goals for the project,
and visuals to help communicate your thoughts
What is your timeline?
Get you Pinterest boards full of spaces you love and communicate WHAT you love about these photos. If you pin a room that has a great layout but you don’t love the style make sure your designer knows that.
Questions about responsibility - Does your designer project manage? Who does the ordering of materials and furnishings? Does your designer do construction documents? Who submits the permits?
Your budget - People are really hesitant to set a budget but unless you have unlimited funds, there is always a max budget. If you have no clue what it costs to furnish a living room or remodel a kitchen - ask the questions and make sure you are being realistic about what you will need to spend to achieve the end result you are looking for.
What’s your designers process? How do they take a project from concept to completion?
How does your designer handle trade pricing? Designers are like retail shops you can buy furniture from. You may get a discount on product you purchase through them but you may not. And then on the other hand, some designers charge a service fee on top of purchase - everyone works differently so be sure to ask.
Does your designer have preferred trades people and contractors?
Do they warehouse furnishings for install day or do you receive everything at your residence
Chances are you have a friend that has used a designer or you’ve watched design programs and you have some ideas as to how things do down…. but bear in mind every designer is different and just because Karen’s designer took her to the design center to look at samples together doesn’t mean your designer does the same.
4. your expectations should be realistic
Working with a designer is kind of like working on the back end of things when it comes to furniture and decor. You see some of the ‘behind the scenes’ and deal with a lot of the stuff that is normally worked out before a piece of furniture hits a retailers sales floor. Items are received damaged, trade-only pieces need to be shipped to commercial warehouses, custom designs take weeks (sometimes months) to make, the fabric that was backordered for 6 weeks could then be discontinued - the reality is that these things are totally normal, human error is inevitable and this is why you hire a designer! In the end, what you are getting is so much better than an ‘off the shelf’ look.
Likewise when you are on a build or remodel project - humans are involved! Mistakes happen, miscommunication happens, things aren’t always smooth sailing. However, trust that your designer is on top of it. The reason you hired a designer is to mitigate these inevitablitlites - not to avoid them all together - not possible. Your designer is likely well-versed in whatever gets thrown in your way and they will navigate the issues and come up with creative solutions that won;t compromise the design. And can you imagine if you had to deal with all this on your own?! ;-)
5. TRUST your designer
You hired your designer for a reason right? You love their work and you want things done right - trust them! Designers tend to have a pretty clear vision for a project based on your meetings and all the ideas/inspiration your have given them. When we design a space we consider the BIG picture - how everything works together to create something amazing. Getting stuck on something small or needing to see lots of alternatives could hinder the process. Sometimes making what may seem like small changes to the design can throw off the balance and larger items then need to be revised - so if it something that you are just unsure of, I would say deferred to your designer for the final call.
Make sure you communicate any strong feelings about color/finishes/textures before your designer gets knee deep in the design and sourcing phase. This will eliminate many of these issues!
When you look at a finished space and think ‘I love this’ are you looking at each individual item and element OR are you seeing how these elements speak to each other and loving how the space feels? Keep in mind we pour over these details and sometimes look at hundreds of options to arrive at that one little item or finish - so while your designer probably has a back up option, they truly believe their first choice is the right one for this puzzle. Try to trust the process!
Hiring a designer is an investment - however, this investment can actually save you time, sometimes money, and sanity in the long run. You want to make sure you are on the the same page from the beginning so you can get the best possible finished product - a home or space you LOVE. Keeping these tips in mind will save so much time and energy along the way!
You can also expect to spend a lot of time with your designer so personality is also a factor - make sure you feel comfortable with them and enjoy their company!