Ever have to go out and choose a new doctor? It’s a very personal relationship and can be a little unnerving to start over with a new one. Choosing a designer can kind of feel that same way. After all, it’s not just a house, it’s your home. You want someone who is talented, has experience, and listens to what you want. It’s essential that designer understands how personal your home is, and respects that. The following tips will help you find a designer who will fit your needs and a make your project an enjoyable success.
What do you need them to do?
Even a great designer won’t be able to help if they don’t know what they’re helping with. Getting clear about what you hope to accomplish will help you and them as you work through the process of choosing and then working with a professional.
At this point, think more in terms of outcomes, and don’t get caught up too much in how things will get done. After all, that’s what you’re hiring a designer for in the first place. Think about the areas of your home you plan to focus on. Today’s designs feature very connected and open spaces, and it can be very easy to have an ever-expanding project and budget if you’re not clear about when to stop.
Also, get clear about the level of involvement you want to have in this process. Are you excited to make every detailed decision? Maybe you’re looking for someone to do all the work for you? Or are you somewhere in the middle? The more you know about what you want before you begin meeting and interviewing designers, the better you'll be able to understand if they are a good fit.
Now that you’ve thought a bit about the scope of the project, determine whether you need an interior designer or an interior decorator. This can be confusing because these two terms are used interchangeably at times, but they are definitely different roles. An interior designer will work as a part of the overall design team from early in the design process. They’ll work closely with the architects and contractors to create the space and select the materials and finishes that go into it. An interior decorator is typically brought in to assist you in selecting things such as fabric patterns, furniture placement, rugs, etc. So while the two roles do overlap, there is definitely a difference in the breadth of their focus.
Ask for referrals from your friends
When you're looking for a new restaurant to try, what do you do? You ask your friends who seem to share your taste in food. Asking your friends who are like you, or who share some of your same tastes, who they’ve worked with and what their experience was like, is a great place to start when choosing a designer as well. Not only will you get a reference, you'll also gain some insight into what it’s like to work with them.
How do they get paid?
Not many remodelers include interior design as a part of their services like we do at Bauscher Construction. So if you’re hiring someone to work with directly you need to be clear with them how they will be compensated. There are a few different ways that designers are compensated and none of them are necessarily right or wrong.
Some designers charge hourly and may charge for even their initial consultation, so be aware of that before setting up any appointments. Others will get paid by commission on products that you buy through them. Others will work with a more fixed flat rate, but this usually requires your project scope to be well defined. Their fee will usually be based on the size and/or complexity of the project.
Any of these or other options can work just fine, just be sure to ask and get a full understanding of how a designer works before you sign up with them.
What’s Your Style?
It’ll be difficult to communicate to someone else what you like if you’re not clear about it yourself. Understanding your own style preferences before hiring a designer will help you express your likes and dislikes in a more precise way. Being open and honest about this at the beginning can prevent headaches and misunderstanding down the road. And being confident in what you like will make it easier to stand your ground if disagree with a designer who has a different idea. For more help with how to find your style, read our blog How To Figure Out Your Design Style: A 3 Step Process
How Important is Universal Design to Your Project?
Integrating Universal Design into your home during a remodeling project can be easy and inexpensive with a little thoughtful planning. If you plan to be in your home for many years, you may want a to incorporate some of these principles into your design, and working with someone who has experience in these principles will be important.
Check Out Their Portfolio
Just like photographers and plastic surgeons, interior designers will usually have a portfolio of their work that you can browse. This will give you an insight into a designer’s style and the results they’ve gotten in the past. If they’ve completed projects in a style that you like, that could be a good sign that they may be a good fit for you.
Check for Qualifications
Just like any professional you would hire, degrees and certifications are a great way to see the kind of education or training a designer has completed. Though experience is the most important teacher, courses and classes are where the groundwork is laid. Certifications can also show that they’re keeping up to date on all that is trendy and new!
When you sit down with a designer, ask them about their past projects and how they like to go about designing a space. Discuss your style and get their thoughts and feedback about what you're hoping to create. This is the time to express your interest in including Universal Design elements in your project as well. This is also an opportunity to simply see if you like them personally.
During the interview watch and take note of what the designer is doing. Are they looking around your space and taking it all in? Are they really listening to what you're saying, or are they just waiting their turn to speak? They should be asking you questions about your home, your project, and your style preferences. If all they can talk about is themselves, you might get a project they love, not one you love.
Ask for References
It seems simple but ask for reference of people they’ve worked with in the past. While they are not likely to give you the name of someone who didn’t like them, you can still get some insights into what it’s like to work with them. Ask if they would hire them again. Ask how well they listened and if they tended to push their own style on the project.
Ask Yourself if It Feels Right?
When getting to know the designer, you may or may not feel an instant connection. And while this may not be a lifelong relationship, it is important that you get along with your designer. Getting along, and even becoming friends will make the whole process more enjoyable and more likely to end with you in love with your new space.
Looking for a great designer, not a good one? Find out how to tell the difference by clicking the link below and read our blog: The Difference Between a Good Designer and A Great Designer.
Smart People Make Smart Choices
Our goal with these pieces is to help you get the information you need to make educated choices for your home and family. If you have found this helpful, or have questions or requests for other topics, please leave them below, and we will make sure you get the answers you need.
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