What to know before hiring an interior designer
Interior design is something we all dip in our toes at least a few times in our life. We all like to have a cozy house that represents our personality and style, however, not all of us have the time or patience to work on it. If you are not eager to create a designed home yourself, an interior designer might be just the help you need! Keep reading to learn more about what to know before hiring an interior designer!
Before looking for a designer
Before you even start looking for an interior designer there are a few things you need to consider so the collaboration can be productive as possible.
You will have to get involved
Even though a designer will do a lot of the creative and practical work, you need to keep in mind that they will ask for your involvement too. It is your home they are decorating after all! It is a collaboration, rather than one initial meeting and a big reveal.
That said, it is definitely possible to leave all the decisions to the interior designer, but that way the home won’t be able to reflect your personality and you have to accept everything the designer has curated.
However, to have an interior design that truly speaks to you and your preferences, make sure you plan in time for communication, idea reviews, and decisions.
As with any project, the budget is an important part to consider. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t necessarily have to have an immense budget to work with a designer. Of course, you can have a truly spacious budget as well, which is definitely not a problem, but it is not a must.
For different budgets, there are different things a designer can do. For example, you can hire a designer to help you just with the idea and concept, and you can go on to search for the pieces yourself and decorate yourself. You can also expand the duties of the designer and ask them to find all the items for you. You can also start by designing just one room at a time, which helps with budget management.
If you think your budget’s too low, don’t worry – look for options. Maybe you can find someone who is just starting out (but has had some experience) or use online consultation services.
On the other side – if you have plenty of resources allocated to interior design, don’t necessarily think you need to spend it all. Look for a designer that has great reviews, a large experience, and a sense of style you enjoy.
When you meet with a designer, they will definitely ask what style you want your home to be in and what is your vision. Be prepared! It is best to find visuals that speak to you because if you use just descriptions like “vintage” or “romantic” it can mean something different to every person. To avoid confusion, browse the internet, social media, Pinterest, and home decor blogs and save all the images of interior designs you like.
Know what you want (and don’t want)
It will make your and the designer's job much easier if you know what you want. Even if at the moment you are not really sure about all the elements, there are definitely some things you are confident about. For example, you might be sure that you want walls painted in light color, nothing bright. Or maybe you hate flower motifs, and that is something you know you don’t want. Try to give the designer as much information as possible regarding your style preferences.
Set a timeline
You can set a timeline together with the designer, but rest assured, when you first meet, they will ask what is the timeline. For example, you are renovating a house and want to move in on April 1. So, logically you want everything to be ready by that time.
When thinking about a timeline, make sure you are thinking realistically. If you are asking a designer to create a room interior design from scratch, source all the items, and implement them in the space, give them enough time to do all these tasks. Also, count in the meetings, communication, and your response time on questions and reviews. In this case, of course, it is best to work the timeline together with the designer, but before starting the project, you need to have at least an approximate date.
Finding a designer
If you are not in the design world, it might seem a daunting task to find an interior designer you like and feel you can trust. Below are listed a few ways how you can tackle this task and find a great designer!
The most obvious way how to find something these days – hit up Google or any other search engine. It will give you relevant results and lots of designers to choose from. When visiting designer webpages, pay attention to previous projects and look for reviews.
References from friends
Recommendations from friends are always a good idea. Definitely ask around and find out maybe someone has had an experience with a wonderful designer. Or the opposite. Take into account negative encounters as well. When collecting references from friends just keep in mind that what works for one might not work for others. But it is surely a good place where to start looking for an interior designer.
Social media is great for not just posting highlights of your life. Social media can also be used as a search engine – be sure to exploit that function! Look for hashtags like #interiordesigner #interiordesign etc.
If you are someone who looks for information in forums, it can also be a good place where to get recommendations for the best interior designers in your region.
Online or local designer
Nowadays there are options to work with someone on the other end of the world via different online tools. If you are looking for a designer who helps with the concept and sends you links to products, you might even consider an online collaboration. If it is important for you that you meet the designer in real life and they visit your home, consider looking for local designers.
Browse the designer’s social media and webpage
You might find a few designers that you consider good candidates for the job. Before talking to them, be sure to check their website and social media. On social media, you will be able to see their latest project and get a feel of their communication style. Before contacting a designer, make sure you like what you see – if you notice a theme going through their designs, you can be sure that they will have a similar pattern in the design they create for you.
Never skip checking reviews. Start with Google Reviews. If the company has none, that’s fine and not necessarily a red flag. Then move on to social media. The best place where to check for authentic reviews is Facebook and Facebook pages. You can also check their Instagram for screen captures of what their clients say. Or go through some of the comments, that might reveal some useful information as well. And lastly, you can write “Name of designer reviews” in Google or another search engine and see what that brings up.
When meeting a designer
Once you have decided which designers to meet in person or over an online call, it is time to get ready to ask and answer questions.
Check portfolio and references
Even though you have probably looked at the designer’s social media and webpage, it never hurts to ask for a portfolio that you can look through together. That way you can ask questions about the thought process, what was the budget, the time limit, and so on.
It is also important to ask the designer if they have worked on similar projects. For example, have they created an interior design for a similar house of yours or have they worked in a style you want your home in. If they have, you will know they have the experience and skills to perfectly execute your project as well.
Clarify what services the designer offers
Don’t assume, ask. There are different designers out there and each of them might have a slightly different offer. Some offer just the design planning, while some offer to do the purchases as well. Some might have a team that does small renovation jobs (for example, wallpaper hanging) while others will outsource that job or leave it for you to handle.
You can also ask do they know any local contractors who might help in your project, for example, with hanging shelves, changing lighting, etc. More often than not a designer will have a list of contractors they work with. You might even get a good deal and a discount! But if not, then at least you will have a reliable contractor.
Match your styles
Not only the designer will ask you what style you want for your home in, but you can also ask the designer what is their preferred style to work in. Even though an interior designer should be able to work in different styles, as there are so many, they often specialize in just a few. If the style choice match, you know you will get what you want!
How does the designer charge?
Back to the budget. There are a few different ways a designer can charge for their work. They might have an hourly rate. They could also have a commission-type salary from the project’s budget (for example, 2–3% of the total). And they could also have a flat rate.
It is important to know this, so you can calculate it into your budget.
What’s the workflow?
And lastly, learn what their work structure looks like. How do they like to start the project, what stages there are, how do they know when to move on to the next, etc. That way you will get a feel of the project, and see if your workflow matches.
Before hiring an interior designer, ask them all the questions you have, find out details about their previous projects, and follow your gut on which designer to choose! Once you get over the first stress of hiring an interior designer, it starts to get fun and exciting to work with a professional in the field. Enjoy the decorating process!