Your home may have reflected your style a few years back – but today, not so much. Now you suddenly realize that your puffy sofa looks crammed in your living space, or that flower-ridden wallpaper looks a tad on the tacky side.
The thing is, you’ve got no clue how to change it for the better, so you decide that a professional interior designer is the answer. But considering how many pros there are out there – and how different they all are – how do you go about choosing the right one for your home?
1. Understand Your Personal Style
Ideally, the interior designer you choose should be able to closely match your style. But do you even know what your specific style is?
Doing some prep work before you even start looking for an interior designer can not only save you time and hassle, it’ll save you money too. Look through some decorating and design magazines, and gather up some ideas of colors, furniture pieces, and accessories that you’re particularly attracted to in order to help you layout your style. Having these ideas ready to communicate with potential designers in the form of pictures will give them a clear sense of what you’re looking for, and what they need to do to bring that to life.
2. Determine the Scope of Your Budget
Unless you’re a millionaire and money is no object, you’ll need to decide how much cash you can comfortably set aside to pay for interior design services. And after you’ve got that dollar figure mapped out, you’ll also need to find out how the interior designers that you’re scoping out are paid. Some charge an hourly rate, while others charge a flat fee. Others may mix a bit of both, depending on the extent of the project.
And then there’s the services that they charge extra for, or include in their overall price. Find out if things like purchasing services or consultations are included in their flat rate, or if they charge extra. Check to see if they charge an upfront retainer fee as well, and factor that price into your overall budget.
Don’t be afraid to flat-out ask them to clarify how they plan on spending your hard-earned money. Designers who are honest and trustworthy will have no problem answering your questions openly, and will stick closely to your budget throughout the entire project.
3. Check Out Their Credentials
Years ago you would have had a heck of a time trying to find out what type of credentials and training interior designers had before hiring them. These days, it’s a lot easier, as many states are now requiring designers to pass an exam from the National Council on Interior Design Qualification before they can legally call themselves interior designers.
Ideally, you want a licensed and experienced interior designer in your corner who’s undergone extensive training. You also ant someone who’s actually accumulated a lot of hands-on experience in the field so you don’t end up as a guinea pig for their portfolio.
4. Interview Your Candidates
So you’ve checked out a bunch of interior designers and narrowed down your choices. Now it’s time to interview those select few that have made your short list. It’s during this interview that you should be asking the right questions so you can get a feel for them and decide if one of them stands out above the rest.
What’s the size of their typical job? How will they be provide a visual representation of what the end result will look like? How do they go about choosing subcontractors? Who’s responsible for insurance? Is your involvement welcome or considered an obstacle? Can they provide references? Questions like these will help you narrow down your choices even further, right down the perfect one.
5. Identify Their Availability
Finding an interior designer who matches your style and can work within your budget is great. But does their schedule jive with yours? Have a chat with a few different designers about their schedules and when they’ll have the most time available to put the most effort into your project. If the designer you ultimately choose is too busy and can only dedicate a few hours here and there, it’ll take forever to get anything done, and will show in the final result.
Many interior designers have assistants that help with projects and keep their time schedule on target. In this case, find out exactly how much you’ll be working directly with the interior designer versus the assistants.
6. Check Out Their Portfolios
A portfolio can really come in handy to get a real sense of the caliber of work that the interior designer you’re considering is capable of. Make sure you ask to see a portfolio, and decide if the work done is both attractive and inspiring to you. You’ll know pretty quickly after perusing the photos whether or not the designer would work with your home’s decor.
Picking the perfect interior designer isn’t rocket science. But it is still an important process and decision nonetheless. Keep these pointers in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to working with the right designer who’ll transform your home for the better.