Looking to Hire an Interior Designer?
Tips to get the most out of your experience
By Alinda Morris, Owner, Alinda Morris Interior Design, LLC
Hiring a designer can help you avoid costly mistakes. They are a wealth of information and can provide much better options than box stores or your local furniture store. Designers can save you time by assisting you in making decisions quickly while keeping you within budget. Here are some tips to get the most out of your experience.
Identify your needs. Interior decorators and designers are not the same. One is not better than the other, but it is helpful to identify which one will work best for you. Interior decorators can help clients decide on a style and assist with paint colors and window coverings. They can make magic using your existing pieces with a few new purchases and accessories.
Interior designers typically have a degree/credentials. The education usually includes studying color and fabric, drafting-computer-aided design (CAD), space planning, furniture design, architecture and often an apprentice program or internship. They provide drawings: floorplans, elevations and 3D models. They can assist you with a large remodel or new construction and provide custom furnishings, wall coverings and artwork down to the last perfect detail.
Be honest. Designers are almost like psychiatrists (and sometimes marriage counselors) because they get to know some pretty personal things about you: your personal needs, your likes and dislikes, how you live in your home, etc. If you have a budget, tell them. If you are not comfortable disclosing your budget, provide a range.
Getting started - the consultation. Some designers charge for this service while others do not. If you are paying for a consultation, you can expect a working meeting. Most designers who offer a complimentary consultation won’t usually give out free design advice. This is a great time to get to know someone. If you choose to hire them, you will be spending a lot of time with them, so make sure you like them.
Questions to ask. What types of projects do you typically work on? If you are remodeling a kitchen, you will want an expert. If you are looking to update your home for resale, you may want a stager. If you have an entire home to remodel, you will want a designer who can handle that size of a project with ease.
Do you think my timeline and my budget are realistic? How do you charge for your services? When will my payments be due? Do you take a retainer or money upfront? How is purchasing handled?
Procurement is a service. Purchasing through a designer is not the same as purchasing from a retail/online store. Trade-only sources involve additional costs. Items are sent to a receiver and inspected, then delivered again during the project installation. These services include handling all purchase orders, stock availability, claims and replacements for any damaged items and scheduling delivery.
Some designers provide E-Design or room packages. Most full-service firms do not allow clients to purchase because there are too many variables that can go wrong.
Clients who wish to purchase online to save money should be willing to schedule, receive and unpackaged all items, assemble any furniture that requires it, return items if they do not work and file claims if items are damaged or not performing well.
Best advice: Do not begin any phase of work without a contact or letter of agreement.