A member of my Interior Design Facebook Group asked a very important question, “how do you select an interior designer?” This is such a great question!
Above anything else, you want to align with your future designer and ensure that they are truly understanding your vision for the space – it’s your home after all! And you’ll want to love it for many years to come.
Today I share my thoughts and answer the question, “how do you select an interior designer?” So you can rest assured that you’ve made the right decision on who to hire, and for the right reasons too!
Researching Interior Designers
I’m sure you’ll already be doing this, but researching different designers is key in the early stages of finding an interior designer. Follow them on Instagram, stalk their page, sign up for their email newsletter, or follow their other social channels. Read their captions and see what they are saying. Are they posting their own work? Are they thought leaders, or just telling you about the trends others have reported already?
Many of my clients have stalked me on these platforms before we even exchange emails. It’s a good way for you to get to know what a designer is like, the projects they work on, the styles and designs they pull together, and other nuggets of information.
Once you have narrowed down a few local designers (or remote if you find someone out of state), you should arrange to speak to them on the phone. We call this a discovery call.
When someone reaches out, I chat with them on the phone first to see if we’re a good fit.
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The discovery call is a critical time for you to find out as much as you can about the designer and whether you will be a good fit for working together.
Most people speak to several designers but don’t often bring in more than one or two for an initial paid consultation. This can be cost-prohibitive anyway, and it’s not something I recommend.
Do you get along? You should hopefully be able to tell that over the phone. If they get the vibe they don’t think you’d get along, then they won’t push to schedule a paid consultation. They don’t want to waste your time or money if they already don’t feel it’s a good fit. As a designer, I want to make sure I enjoy the working relationship as much as you enjoy it!
As you’re wanting to transform your home, it can feel like a risk to hire a designer. Especially if you’re unsure of what they can deliver for you. But this is where asking specific questions on the discovery call comes in.
To help mitigate risk, ask them questions in the discovery call about things they’ve found challenging when working on projects. Ask questions to understand how their pricing model is structured to be sure you’re comfortable with it.
Here are some topics and pointers you should ask about:
While on the discovery call with a designer, ask whether they have preferred contractors. Will you have to use them? Or will they work with a contractor that you hire?
Their answer isn’t as important as how you feel based on their response. You may be good with hiring their person, or you might want to hire your own. You should both be on the same page right from the beginning.
It’s also important to understand their skill set, as it pertains to the project you have in mind, and also future projects. Ideally, you should look to create a working relationship and stay with them, for the long haul of transforming your home. Are you thinking of a kitchen remodel next year, but want to work on the family room this year? Make sure your designer is skilled and has experience in both areas.
Certifications and Education
It is worth asking about what type of continuing education opportunities they take part in: what trade shows they attend, and how that translates to a better project for you. A professional designer should be able to answer this and should be continually investing in professional development.
Then, what does their educational background look like? Do they have a bachelor’s degree in interior design? Are they NCIDQ Certified? This is a big deal in the industry and really reduces the risk of hiring a designer.
Others who market themselves as interior designers have made the profession their second career, or they have a flair for decorating – some of those people are great at what they do, and some are not. This is a gamble and a huge risk. But choosing a designer that is NCIDQ Certified will put your mind at ease. This is one of the highest certifications in the industry. It’s the interior design equivalent of passing the Bar Exam for an attorney.
Function vs. Looks
The more varied and faceted your designer’s skill set, the better. Various types of interior design jobs feed into one another to help a designer grow and create a beautiful end result.
It’s also not only about what you see when you walk into a room, but how a space performs and functions. You should seek a designer who understands the technical side of the profession as well. Ask about how they strike a balance between how a space functions and how it looks aesthetically.
The above sections should help you to uncover more about the designers you speak to on discovery calls, and help separate those who may be the better fit.
Above all, you need to feel comfortable and excited about the interior designer you choose to work with! It may seem scary at first, but the right designer will put you at ease and endeavor to work with you to make your dream home a reality. Hiring the right designer for your home will save you time and money over the long term. Investing in your future is wise. If you’re looking to hire an interior designer, either virtually or in-person, we would love to learn more about your project. Contact us to set up a time to chat!