Finding an Interior Designer

Interior designers help create the character of your home, so it reflects your personality and design style. Their primary function is to get inside your head, interpret your needs, solve problems and come up with a design plan to bring that vision to life. They aid in cutting renovation costs through superior planning and durable solutions.

Below are several steps to assist you in your search for the perfect designer and to help you prepare for the interviews.


Interior Designer


Create Your Wish List and Priorities

The first step in the process of selecting an interior designer is to have a clear understanding of the scope of work you want to accomplish. Write down what your wants are in each room. If you have researched the cost of things, then write it beside the item. Color code to show proprieties.

Develop Your Project Budget

Once you feel reasonably confident about the scope of the project, you are now ready for the tangible step of developing your project budget. Strategies for developing your project budget fall into three general categories:

1) Start with a list of things you want to change. Here, your designer can assist you in deciding on the level of quality and embellishments you desire. Based on that knowledge, they can generate a design concept along with a budget for you to evaluate. They will help you determine where to spend and where to save.

2) Begin with a budget based on what you have available. Based on the scope of the project and using the desired budget as a guide the designer will create a proposed design budget. If that number exceeds the allowable budget, they can work with you to prioritize items into design phases. The benefit of this format is that it provides a design blueprint that can allow you to progress to the next step when additional money becomes available.

3) A general remodeling guideline. A general guideline addressing the acceptable amount to invest in the remodeling of your home is 20 to 30 percent of the home’s value (this does not include furniture). For example, if your home is appraised at $500,000, it is reasonable to invest another $100,000 to $150,000 in improvements.

The more research and planning you do before you begin, the more you will be able to keep costs down throughout the life of the project. Any modifications that are labor-intensive to the point of moving walls or beams will significantly increase the cost of your project. The same goes for making undue demands on the designer’s time and requesting changes in the middle of the project.

Decide What Level of Design Service You Require

Most designers offer a wide list of services, including design consultations, site measurement and assessment, space planning, design concepts, purchasing or procurement, and project management. Depending on the design firm you work with, you may be able to create an a la carte selection that allows you to take on some of the tasks yourself and outsource the rest.

Individual designers will have different fee structures; some prefer to charge a flat fee for their work, while others like to work on an hourly basis. Some designers charge fees on each purchase while others take a percentage of the cost of the room as a whole. If you’re contemplating hiring a designer, be sure you understand how you’ll be charged before signing any paperwork.

Having a solid end result in mind is extremely important if you’re going to hire someone else to take charge of your design. The interior designer will base their style decisions mainly on the parameters you give them, so if you’re feeling uncertain of your project, you could leave yourself open to miscommunication and hit-or-miss guesswork. One more aspect to consider is if you are someone who does not like to make decisions, you may run into difficulty because your designer will be giving you decision options for every aspect of the room or home. However, most homeowners find the process of making a decision much more comfortable when they are working with a designer. Since the designer is presenting only options that work with the rest of the design, they really can not make a wrong decision.

Research Possible Interior Designers

One strategy is to go through the process of finding the right designer on your own. However, you may see that you do not have the energy or time to spend untold hours searching the Internet, going through hundreds of portfolio’s and then meeting with designers that may or may not be the right fit. In that case, you can take advantage of a personalized referral service.

These services have the advantages of being familiar with designers and how they work, charge, and manage your project. By asking you a lot of questions, they can match your personality, design aesthetic, scope of work, timeline, and availability and set up interviews with selected professionals. Most companies provide this service for free, and there is typically not an upcharge in design fees due to their involvement.

They can also provide a wealth of information on how designers work and charge and offer tips on interviewing them.

After the Meeting

After your initial meeting with your interior designer, you need to be very honest with yourself and ask the following questions: Did they listen to my needs and concerns? Did I trust the answers I was getting? Was there good chemistry between us? Did they demonstrate talent, creativity, and resourcefulness?

What you undoubtedly will find is that your gut instincts, the ones that have mostly served you well throughout your life, should be generally accurate in these situations. Most con men are relatively easy to spot, although, for sure, there are exceptions.

If you have consulted an Interior Design Matchmaker, then you can be assured that the design professionals you met with are trustworthy and experienced to do you project.

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