Did you know you don’t have to hire the first interior designer you schedule a consultation with? Quite the opposite. Your consultations should be viewed more like professional interviews. It’s a chance for you and designer to sit down, talk about your hopes and visions, and get a feel for one another so you can determine whether or not it’s a good fit. You’ll be working very closely together – maybe for a long time depending on the scope of the work – so a personal connection is almost as important as the designer’s capabilities and talents.
Bonus for you: by scheduling three to five consultations, you’ll glean a host of free ideas that you can put to use when you get started on the official remodel or renovation.
7 Questions to Ask During Consultations With an Interior Designer
Here is a simple list of questions that will yield important information while simultaneously allowing you to learn more about the prospective designer, her philosophy and her general style.
- Can you work with our budget? Unless funds are unlimited, you must have a budget for any given home improvement project. This figure should be set, fixed and firm to keep your sanity and make sure you don’t get in over your head. Build in a 10% to 15% emergency contingency. Once you have this figure set, you’ll be able to run it by your prospective designers to see if they can work with it or not.
- How do you charge? In most cases, designers charge by the hour or by the room. Or, they may have an entirely different fee structure. This can greatly alter the total price of your design from designer to designer so make note of how they charge and determine which fee structure you feel the most comfortable with.
- When are your fees due? It’s no surprise that money is often the most stressful aspect of a design (notice the first 3 questions are all about finances?), which is why it’s so important to have complete transparency. Does your interior designer want half now and the balance upon completion? Does she prefer to receive installment payments? Get all of the financial agreements in writing and signed so there is no room for misinterpretation.
- What is your design forte? In theory, every professional interior designer would be able to create a perfect version of any design you desire. In truth, we’re human and we all have our own design fortes. If you are a hardcore modernist, you’re best off working with a designer who specializes in modern design. If you like things a little more eclectic, seek a designer with a portfolio laden with funky-chic designs.
- Can you show me examples of my style/budget/ideas in your portfolio? And, of course, seeing is believing. Take time to review their portfolio. Can you see yourself living in any of their designs – especially those at your price point? If not, they may not be the designer for you.
- Do you offer industry discount fees? The longer a designer has been in business, the more connections she gleans along the way. These connections often result in discount fees for furnishings and textiles that can be passed along to the client.
- Can you provide professional references? Don’t neglect the power of references. It’s good to speak with people who have worked with the designer so you can get a better feel for how she operates, how she handles challenges or hiccups, and so on. This input often seals the deal on who a client hires.