What to Look for when Hiring an Interior Designer
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated September 27, 2013)
Getting an interior decorator to help you with your decorating needs can be the perfect way to get exactly what you want for your home. That is, as long as you know what to look for when hiring an interior designer. Hiring the wrong designer, or one that isn't quite up to doing what they think they can do, can potentially be worse than not having one at all.
- Know what you are talking about. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block when looking for an interior decorator, and later on, is communication. In the actual hiring stage, this means that you need to stop and think about what you want, and learn how to communicate that. It takes a little more than simply saying that you want your home to look pretty to get the idea across to your prospective decorators. A good way of being able to communicate what you want is by using photos of rooms that you like, and those that you don't.
- Create a list. Start gathering names from your friends, family, coworkers, and the phone book. You should gather a list of at least five, and be prepared to interview more than that. Having a minimum of five people to interview will give you a pretty good cross section of skills, experience, and prices.
- Begin interviewing. After you have created your list, you need to start interviewing. Be prepared for the interviews, and also be prepared for secondary follow up interviews as well. The first interview will be so that you can describe what you are looking for, in addition to getting a feel of how the designer works. It can be helpful to have a list of questions that you want asked, though there really is no set standard of questions that you should ask. Some questions could be things like "How long does an average project take for you," or, "How good are you at staying within budget?"
- Get references. As you talk to each decorator ask for a copy of their references. After you have finished talking to the decorator, you will want to actually take the time to call those references and see if they are still happy with the work that was done. Also, each interior designer should be able to produce a portfolio of their work, often they will have one that you can keep and peruse at your leisure.
- Take a look at their work. Take the time to actually look over the portfolios of the decorators, as well as their proposed visions of the work. This is not something that should be rushed, and a step that should be taken carefully and with full deliberation.
- Compare and decide. As you were interviewing each prospective designer, talking to their references, and looking at the portfolios provided, you should have been making notes of what you thought. Take the time to compare these notes, as well as all the other information you have gathered, and make your final decision. You should choose the decorate that will not only provide the look you want, but also the one that you think you will be able to get along with the best.
Now that you know what to look for when hiring an interior decorator, all you have left to do is to work along side them. For many people, this simple step is often harder than picking the decorator out. The simple reason is that communications gaps often develop and fester. Learning how to communicate, and how to do it well, is a skill that will stand you in good stead when working with your new interior decorate, and the rest of your life as well.
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