How to Choose and Work With a Designer

Tips and Advice

So, you’ve decided that it’s time to hire a professional.  Maybe it’s because you’ve made some expensive mistakes doing it on your own, or maybe you don’t have the time, desire, or vision to create the home of your dreams.  All of these are good reasons to bring in a designer.  Now the question is; How do you find one, and then what?

We’ll tackle these questions one at a time.  There are a number of ways to find a designer.  I believe the best ones are to ask for referrals from friends and family, and to go to websites of associations like A.S.I.D ( American Society of Interior Designers) or NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association) to find designers.  Sometimes your builder or contractor can be a good resource for a referral. 

Ok, so you’ve found a designer.  Now what?  Well, generally a designer will arrange for an initial consultation by phone to get a feel for your project and then set up an appointment in your home to discuss the scope of the project in-depth.  Here are some things that you should look for and think about during that appointment:

  • Is the designer asking you a lot of questions about the project and what your needs and desires are?
  • Did they give you any “homework” to do to help them get a feel for what you’re looking for?
  • What is their level of education and experience in interior design, and what professional organizations do they belong to? This can offer you an insight into their dedication to their craft.
  • Do they have a portfolio? (Note here: Don’t assume that a designer has a “style” just because their portfolio seems to go in one direction.  It’s ok to ask about their “style”, but their answer should be that their focus is on what their client wants)
  • Will they provide you with references?  You’re going to be spending a great deal of time (and money) with the designer.  It behooves you to check them out just like you would any other professional.
  • Speaking of professional- are they behaving as a professional?
  • What’s your gut level of comfort with them?  Again, you’re going to be making an investment with this person.  If you’re uncomfortable- keep looking.
  • Do they communicate well, and do you get the sense that they’re a team player or diva? 
  • Are they asking for and being respectful of your budget?  It’s vitally important to communicate where you want to be budget-wise.  A good designer will help you create the home of your dreams but be respectful of your budget. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about what’s gone wrong in a project and how they dealt with it.  If they tell you nothing’s ever gone wrong they’re probably not telling the truth. 

When you find the designer you connect with, you’ll recognize that they are not only a resource for creating the home of your dreams, but they can become a trusted advisor and advocate for ensuring that your project goes smoothly for you.

Last thing:  Thank you to all of our veterans.  It is through your sacrifice that we enjoy our freedom.

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