How To Hire An Interior Designer

Many people feel hiring an Interior Designer is a luxury, but ask yourself...do you hire an Accountant for your taxes?  A Financial Advisor for your retirement plans? A Marketing Consultant for your business?  an Interior Designer can save you time and money on your home or office project.  To begin the process, start with these questions:

What is the scope of work?

Are you choosing paint colors for several rooms of your home?   How many rooms and how many choices do you want for each room? Will the designer provide larger samples?  What brand & type of finishes?  

Planning a kitchen remodel?   What will be included? Kitchen layout design or just choosing the cabinet finish? Countertop choices, paint colors, flooring, cabinet hardware, shopping for appliances?

Renovating your living and dining room with new furniture & window treatments?   How many fabric & furniture choices do you want to see? Will you be shopping locally or will you order from catalogs?  Will the designer provide a room layout? Do you want 3-D renderings?

             Building a home from scratch?   How often will you meet?  Weekly, Monthly? Will the designer be meeting with the                      subcontractors?  How involved do you want them to be? Will they provide layouts prior to finalizing your architectural                plans?  Will they be working with you to choose decorative moldings, finishes, lighting, furniture, window treatments?

             Renovating your office space, employee lounge or reception area?   What type of traffic does your space get on a daily                  basis?  Does it need to be flame retardant materials? Will the designers be working with specialists such as lighting                        designers or city officials? How many people do you need to accommodate in the area?

Not all designers will take on all types of projects, so understanding the extent of your project upfront will save you time and frustration.

What is your budget?

Without a budget in place, any project can be frustrating and stressful.  Work can snowball, get out of control & make it impossible to completely finish your job. Do not start with “0” and go from there.  An experienced Interior Designer can help you prepare a realistic budget and work to prioritize your wish list. For instance, if you are renovating your living room: What is your comfort zone for the price of a sofa?  Is it $1000, $3000 or $8000? Are you working with several pieces you already have or is it all new? Are you replacing or refinishing hardwood floors? Do not forget the accessories or artwork - they can complete the project!

Where do you find a list of professional Interior Designers & will you be compatible?

Always ask for referrals from friends or relatives.  Go to websites such as Houzz.com - Click on Find a Pro & scroll down to Interior Designers.

Have a conversation with the designers you choose.  Most projects can be a long term commitment, so  enjoying the process has everything to do with working with someone who is knowledgeable, ethical and pleasant to be around. A great designer, not only can make your home or office beautiful, they can make it fun along the way.

How do they charge?

Designers charge fees a number of different ways.  

Hourly.

Flat Project Fee

Percentage of the overall project cost

Purchasing Fee for Product

Providing sales of furniture, lighting, custom window treatments and other home furnishings.

With long term projects such as building a new home or renovating a kitchen, designers may ask for a monthly retainer.

Hire early and do not choose a designer strictly because one is less expensive or a friend thinks one is too expensive.  Consider all factors.  Spending a little more upfront may save you big money in the long run.

What is their experience?

How long have they been in business?  What types of projects have they done? Do they have references?  Do they have photographs of their work?  Look at the quality of the work in photographs. A good designer can create beautiful spaces for any type of design, but usually has a signature style.  Again, not all designers work on all types of projects.  Some may not do just paint consultation.  Others may not be qualified to work with architectural plans.  Asking the right questions will help you zero in on the best designer for you.

Enter Into and Understand what is in a Letter of Agreement.  

This will specify the scope of work and costs associated with your needs so there are no surprises.  What rooms are included?  Is there a time frame for work to be completed by?  What happens if you think of additional items to be added after beginning the project?  How often is the designer going to be paid?  Is there a deposit required and when is the final payment due?  Can you have a payment plan in place?  Do they take credit cards? What is their policy for returns and repairs? The more comprehensive the agreement is, the less ambiguity and potential misunderstandings will arise in the future.

The days are over when only the very wealthy hire Interior Designers.  They are as important as the contractor building your home.  An experienced designer that will help to avoid costly mistakes, overages and lost time is worth every penny!