Thinking of hiring an interior designer but not sure where to start? You are not alone. Many of our Bay Area clients have never worked with an interior designer before and wonder what to expect. Read on for tips on streamlining your search for the right designer.
Scope of work? Start by mapping out the work you want done in your home. Which rooms do you want to tackle? What types of services are you are interested in: Space planning, remodeling, furniture selection and purchasing? Determine a rough budget and timeline for your project. Many design firms schedule projects months in advance, so it’s best to start looking before you actually want to start work. Once you have a clear grasp of the scope of your project, start searching for a design firm whose strengths and services are a good match.
Start with style. There are many differences between design firms, ranging from the design process, billing structure, and philosophy. The easiest way to narrow in on your top contenders is to look at a variety of designers projects and see which portfolio speaks to you.
Key Questions. Most designers will start with an initial phone call or in-home consultation before starting a project. The following are a few key questions to ask during this initial meeting:
1. Is the firm full-service or do they work as consultants? Full-service firms manage a project from start to finish, while consultants work on a smaller scale and will provide quick advice or guidance as needed. Be sure to ask whether they have a minimum project size or budget that they typically work with.
2. Who will you be working with? How many employees does the firm have — Will you be working solely with the principal designer or with other designers in the firm? If the firm is larger, find out if you will have one designer as a main point of contact.
3. What are the billing practices? Most designers bill by the hour, with varying rates for each designer based on level of experience. Inquire about hourly rates and if an estimate will be provided based on past projects. It’s best for everyone to be on the same page before starting work.
Last but certainly not least – Pay close attention to the rapport you have with the designer. It’s important to make sure the designer “gets you” and that you can relate to them both professionally and personally. The design process should be rewarding and fun!