Something that has been on my mind for a while is all the different ways a homeowner can work with an interior designer, and I wonder if it’s confusing. There is a wide variety of services our industry offers and every design business operates differently. To say that each design firm is unique is an understatement, the culture and the type of projects they love to do all have a distinct flavor. Even down to what they don’t like to do, or won’t take on, is very distinctive to each design firm. I think that can be the beauty of our industry, that each design firm is led by people and the personality of those people impact how they work and the projects they produce.
I know the first big questions when considering working with a designer can be around communication style, schedule, personality fit, budget expectations, and design preferences. Interviewing a designer can be fun but also a little nerve wracking. I can imagine a homeowner thinking, will they listen to me? Do they have my best interest at heart? Are they too busy for my project? Will the end result be as I hoped and dreamed?
Design is fun, and the details matter. We pour our heart and soul into our projects. That’s why , as personal as this process can be, knowing what to expect is so important. I can’t speak for every design firm, but I can answer some questions about why our clients work with us, and the type of projects we take on that fuel our joy for design!
Where To Begin?
Finding the right design firm to hire starts with knowing what you want for an end result. It is also important to understand how you want to experience the project process as it unfolds. For us, every project starts with the end in mind. What is the final feeling? Form, function, light, textiles all feed into that sometimes intangible “feeling” you get when you walk into a home. We have to start there in order to have a successful design. We aren’t looking to create “ok” or “good enough”. Part of our love of design is taking care of our clients from floorplans to the last pillow on the sofa. It’s a relationship built on trust, can you articulate how your home should feel when it’s complete?
Get To Know The Designer
Before your introductory call with a designer, or even before you reach out, think through important questions to ask. Most design professionals bill by the hour or charge a flat fee. They typically estimate how many hours a project will take or have a range of flat fee estimates based on project scope. Talk through the process of renovating or building a new home. How does the designer provide information to the builder and trades to keep the project running on time? What does the selection of architectural materials look like, does the designer take you to every showroom or do they narrow down selections to present? Ask about the design, specification, ordering and installation of the Furnishings Package, which includes furniture, rugs, window treatments, lighting, wall treatments, art etc. A designer should have a process for managing this portion of the project, to make sure all the details come together in a timely manner. Ask about how payment is collected and applied and what happens when there are deficiencies. There is so much to know, home building is a detailed process but worth every minute!
Think Through Timeline and Estimated Budget
Do some research on what the range of pricing is for the type of project you want to do. Pricing varies depending on where you live so take that into account. Be prepared to have things cost more than you anticipated. We all know how it goes when we buy a car. You have a number in mind, but as you get into narrowing down options you realize that number didn’t include leather seats, premium sound system and the cold weather package. Every industry has Good, Better and Best categories that they operate in so be open to exploring what those are. Scheduling projects and developing a timeline with your designer is part of the first or second conversation you have, if there is a hard date for move in make that clear right away. If that designer is booked and can’t accommodate your timeline, it’s best to know up front. Adversely, if you are flexible with your project timeline be ready to talk through a few suggestions for project start and end dates!
Don’t Hold Back
This is your chance to share your hopes and dreams for your home, please don’t sensor yourself. Lay it all out on the table even if you think your idea will sound crazy, TRUST US it won’t! Open and consistent communication create the best results.
Curious about working with us on your next project? Let’s connect!