What to Expect in Your First Meeting With an Interior Designer

So, you are considering consulting with an interior designer or decorator to assist with an upcoming project. How do you select one designer over another? And what should you expect at the first meeting? Here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Decide on the scope of the project – What is it that you are really looking to get done? Are you remodeling the entire kitchen or just need help select colors for the kitchen walls? Are you in love with a chair or piece of furniture but not sure how to make it fit in the room? Ensure you KNOW THE ANSWERS to these questions definitively before you start your search. The very first question an interior designer or decorator will ask is -What is the project? The scope of the project will determine the type of help you will need – from a design build firm to an interior re-designer or somewhere in-between.
  2. Talk to local friends about experience with a similar project -Now that you are confident about the scope of project, ask friends and family about their experience in the same arena. If your friend started out with a simple color consultation that blew up into a major home remodel, you can talk to he/she to learn how it happened. And how to avoid the same situation from happening to you.
  3. Gather pictures and ideas of rooms that appeal to you -When you say ‘modern’, it can mean totally different things to an architect, designer and/or decorator. Show pictures instead! Collect pictures of rooms and ideas from magazines, web pages, pictures of friends homes, books and prepare them to show the designers in your first meeting. Additionally, if you like the décor of a local store, take pictures for yourself and ask the salespeople which designers shop there frequently. You may learn of additional designers to consider as well.

Now – you are prepared to meet with an interior decorator or designer and have narrowed down the list of possible companies. What should you expect next? As you contact and meet designers, keep the following things in mind.

  1. Expect a nominal initial consultation fee – As the old adage goes – time is money! Expect an experienced and preferred designer to charge for the initial visit. An hourly fee or set fee for the first meeting is common and some designers may apply it to the first order. Hint: Savvy interior designers use this as a gauge for new clients. If a prospect grumbles or complains about the initial consultation fee, the designer may assume the prospect will have trouble paying subsequent fees and not interested in taking the prospect on as a client.
  2. Expect to answer lots of questions about your taste and style – Since this is the first time that the designer is meeting you, he/she will do what they can to learn about your style. He/She will take notice of the current state of your home, your furniture choices (if those are evident) and how you and your family currently live in your space. If you have any big dislikes or likes, now is the time to express those – i.e. – no roosters in the kitchen décor or a desire for a water element in your bedroom. And don’t forget to show the pictures that you collected, as discussed earlier!
  3. Ensure important decision makers are available – Even if your spouse/significant other will not be involved with the process, if he/she will live in the space, then include her/him in the initial meeting. Especially if the room is shared, like the kitchen or master bathroom. Don’t set up this meeting during the day when the spouse/significant other is not available. This can easily become a cause for contention once the project gets underway.
  4. Expect to discuss budget – This can be a touchy subject but not talking about it won’t make it go away! Be sure to be clear about what your budget limitations are and ask the designer/decorator if your budget expectations match the reality of the project. And if the designers don’t mention budget, be sure to bring it up – you deserve to get a sense of things before any plans get started.
  5. Know what you like but be open to explore new things – The saavy designer won’t design an entire room at the first meeting, but he/she may suggest a few things to gauge your reactions to different ideas. If you find yourself reacting negatively to the suggestions, keep looking! Soon you find a designer/decorator who speaks your language…but keep yourself open to learn a few new words in that language! (I hope that analogy makes sense). That is what you are paying a designer to do – bring new and fresh ideas to your space!

We hope the above advice is useful as you consider hiring a design professional for your next project. The list was developed from our own experiences and interactions with clients before, during and after home projects.

7 Questions to Ask an Interior Designer Before Hiring Them

Before you hire an interior designer to help decorate or redesign a room in your home it is important that you know something about the person who is providing you their professional advice. Do you like their style? Do they listen to your design ideas as well? Do they have experience with a portfolio of past jobs that you can look at and study? There are several questions you can ask a professional designer but following are 7 of the most important questions or things to know before hiring an interior designer for your next project.

1. In today’s digital world, there’s a never-ending supply of before and after photos. Ask to view their web site before you meet.

2. While a designer should be able to create the home you’re dreaming of, some designers specialize in certain design styles. Ask what their favorite design style is and make sure your tastes are compatible.

3. Referrals, referrals, referrals! Talk to clients who’ve actually worked with the designer. Rather than just making a phone call, ask if you can see the client’s home with or without the designer. Most happy clients would gladly show you their successful project. If visiting in person isn’t an option, at least ask the client about their overall job satisfaction. Would they use the designer again? What did they like most and least about working with the designer?

4. If you can’t tour a client’s home, the designer’s home is the next best thing. If a tour cannot be provided ask them to look at their portfolio of work either online or a physical book of images.

5. Ask the designer how they charge for their services. Many designers charge a percentage of the total costs. Given supplier discounts to the trade, the discounts usually pay the client back for all and often more than the designer’s fee, saving the client money.

6. Time line. Get an idea about when the work would begin and be completed by. Make sure that goals and budget are clearly defined.

7. Are you compatible with the designer? This is a person you’ll spend a fair amount of time with. While they don’t have to become your best friend, it’s important that you consider this person to be a good listener, reliable, knowledgeable and professional.

If the interior designer you are considering hiring meets all your requirements then you have a good match. Keeping this list of questions handy will be helpful in your search and may even save you money by hiring the right designer for the job.

Things You Need to Know When Hiring an Interior Designer

Everyone deserves to love the home they live in. Sadly, a lot of people are unhappy with the space they have created for themselves, and often are not sure why. This is where an Interior Designer plays a valuable role, as liaison between you and your home.

After you have made the decision to hire a Designer, finding the right one may seem like a daunting task. Start by asking asking your friends or relatives if they have someone to recommend. If you have seen a room or home with a design that you really liked, find out who the designer was. Searching online is also a good place to start. Most designers have a web site where you can instantly see their previous work and get a feel for how they design. The local ASID chapter can help facilitate this. Start out with 2 or 3 choices and schedule consultations. This is a good time to view the portfolios and most importantly, see if it “feels” like a good fit. By this I mean, use your intuition. You could potentially be working with this person for an extended period of time, while it’s not necessary that you become friends, you still want to be heard when it comes to expressing your thoughts and desires for creating a better space.

Some questions to ask the Designer during this process are:
o Describe your design style.
o Are you open to my ideas and wishes during the creative process?
o What aspect of design is of most importance to you (i.e. lighting, color scheme etc.)
o How do you structure your fee?
o Do you have a list of previous clients that I can talk to?
o Most Designers won’t give away too many ideas during this part of the process, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask for an impromptu idea or two to see if you’re on the same page.
o Your instincts can play a big role at this stage, so be sure to listen to them!

When you have made your decision, you should receive a contract with the scope of work, timeline and fees involved. Be sure to read it thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask questions if there is something you don’t quite understand. This is the time to work out any concerns and to ask questions. If the Designer is honest and has integrity, she/he will be very forthcoming with her/his answers.

Just remember that this should be a fun process! With the right prep work beforehand, you and your Interior Designer can have a productive and creative relationship.