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  • Writer's pictureJoani Stewart

How to Select an Interior Designer

Updated: Jul 7, 2021

So many homeowners call me who have never worked with an interior designer and they just don't know what to expect. Can they afford one? Do they need one? How do they find one?

Before you take the leap and start thinking about wanting help with your project,

Here are some helpful hints to consider:

  • Determine the Scope of Your Project. How much do you really want to do? The whole house? Just the bathroom?

  • Get a feel for your own personal style so you can discuss your ideas with your designer. Visual aids are always helpful, remember . . . a picture is worth a thousand words.

  • Choosing a designer is easier when you know what kind of style and look you want. This is not a guessing game . . . you want to be as open with your designer as possible.

  • Do they resonate with your style? Have you seen that style in the designer's portfolio?

  • When you interview the designer, ask a lot of questions.

  • Are they accredited? How long have they been in business? Do they have references?

  • Have they been published? Can you get along, even like this person for the duration of your project? (6 months - 1 or 2 years) What is their preferred style? Contemporary? Traditional?

  • Think of your designer as your new BFF. If you don't like them now, you definitely won't like them later.

  • ​U​nderstand the designer's fee structure

  • At what level do you want to be involved in the creative process? Do you want to be consulted on the nitty-gritty, day-to-day details, or are you more interested in big picture issues?

  • Similarly, at what level do you want to be involved in the product research? Are you looking for comprehensive, "soup to nuts" guidance, or do you consider yourself design-savvy and only in need of assistance with color, space planning and resources or consultation only?

  • Are you a visual person or a tactile person? Will you be satisfied with a designer showing you photos of products, or do you prefer to see and feel everything before deciding whether it is right for you?

  • Do you prefer to be shown many options or fewer?

  • Are you open to the input of others?

  • Are you able to make choices with confidence, or do you tend to vacillate?

  • What are your expectations in terms of a timeline?

  • What is your budget? What is your "drop dead" $number?

  • Study the designer's portfolio

Scrutinizing a designer's profile will give you a feel for his or her style and experience doing projects that are similar to yours.

Determine Your Scope of Services

The scope of a project, to some extent, dictates the qualifications and experience required of the interior designer you are hiring. If you are building a new home or addition, or undertaking a major renovation to an existing space, you will likely be working with an architect. Architects and designers can work very well together as they are both specialists in their areas of expertise and work basically in collaboration with each other.

Think of an interior designer as a director in a major Hollywood movie; they have a team of creative people, on whom they depend, to do their particular craft in order to bring the design from paper to reality. Each member of the team has their part to play; design is a collaborative effort, every member of the team influences and inspires the others.

Interior designers work out optimal room size, pay attention to traffic flow and lighting. They coordinate the design scheme with your needs and desires; choosing color schemes, paint finishes, cabinet styles, flooring and lighting. An interior designer can help you avoid making costly mistakes. Not only do designers have the training, but they have the expertise and hopefully, years of experience.

If you're redecorating a single room or have a limited budget for a space that does not require structural change, you may not need to hire an interior designer full time. If this is the case you may need an interior designer on an hourly basis to help guide you through the process, check your choices, or help you with available resources.

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