SHOP GRAY MALIN

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Interiors

Design Direction: 5 Questions to Ask When You’re Hiring an Interior Designer

If you’re thinking of starting up a little (or HUGE) décor refresh, but have never worked with an interior designer before, then there are a few things to know before you get started. Overhauling a space can be tons of fun and bring that breath of fresh air to your home that you’ve been yearning for—but it doesn’t come without a price, and some serious work to make it happen!

Choosing the right interior designer to bring your décor vision to life requires more than just saying, “You’re hired,” and we’re getting you prepped right here on the blog. If you want to have the best design experience possible, work within your budget, and be left with a result you’re drooling over for years to come, then you’ll want to ask your interior designer these five questions below before you get started…

1. Can you work within my budget?

It might seem obvious to ask this question first and foremost, but trust us—it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a design makeover and forget about budget! You’ll want to discuss budget with your potential designer before you get knee-deep in design, so that there aren’t any surprises down the road. That said, this discussion should be as honest as possible. If you have a very strict budget that you cannot be fluid with, make that clear. If you have a little wiggle room, then give your designer a bit of freedom.

Your designer shouldn’t pressure you to fatten up your budget—most great designers are willing and able to work with any budget. But, keep in mind that you often get what you pay for, so you and your designer should have an open conversation about the quality of the pieces you’ll be getting for your agreed upon price. Don’t expect a room full of lifelong furniture on a bargain budget, although it might be possible to invest your budget into fewer, higher quality pieces. On the other hand, if you’ve got a pretty hefty budget for your designer to work with, then be honest about what you want to get from it! If you want pieces that will last you the rest of your life, make that clear.

2. How long will it take you to complete the project?

If you’re not familiar with interior design yourself, then it might be difficult to know how long of a timeline is typical for your project. After you’ve talked about the scope of your project with your designer and what it will require to achieve the look you want, make sure to ask how long it will take them to complete it. For instance, if you’re hiring a designer to dress up a home you haven’t even moved into yet, you’ll want to think about how long you’re willing to wait for it to be move-in ready. Also take into account how much work your designer is actually doing in your space. Are they just adding finishing touches? Then it probably shouldn’t take them several months. Are they overhauling an entire room from floor to ceiling? (Or multiple rooms, for that matter?) Then understand that they’ll need more time. Bottom line: make sure you agree upon a timeline so you’re not rushing your designer, and so your designer knows what you expect from them.

3. How would you describe your signature style? 

Just like every person on the street could have a totally different décor taste, your interior designer will also have a signature style where they feel they really shine. For instance, if you’re hoping to create a sleek and modern minimalist space, don’t go hunting down a designer who specializes in shabby chic. Your designer’s style might be obvious off the bat, but no matter what, ask how your designer describes their style! Hearing the words from their mouth might immediately inspire you to say “Yes, you’re the one for me!” or you might be totally turned off by what their vision is, and know you need to go in another direction.

That being said, don’t underestimate the ability of some designers to experiment outside of their comfort zone. If their signature style is right up your alley, but you want to mix it with something a little different, then your designer will likely be up for the challenge. It’s those little differences that make each space unique to the client! Just make sure your designer feels comfortable taking on the task, and that you both agree on how to incorporate those “unique” elements, to avoid any unfortunate surprises in the end. Looking extensively through your designer’s portfolio, website, and social media beforehand can give you a great idea of what you can expect from working with them on your own space, so don’t ignore this step.

4. How much do you charge for a designer’s fee? 

This question should lie within your conversation about budget, but this one thing can often make or break a deal when you’re trying to decide on the right interior designer. The designer’s fee is something that can vary just as much as prices vary on furniture, so it’s crucial that you’re asking the right questions and doing your homework before you say, “You’re hired!” Some designers may charge thousands of dollars per room on top of what you’re already paying for the design itself, while others might charge as little as a few hundred dollars. But, as is the case with any purchase, you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re getting for the amount of money you’re handing over to your designer.

That’s not to say you can’t get a great experience with a designer who only charges a few hundred dollars for a design fee, and it’s also not to say that you will get a great experience with a designer who charges thousands of dollars! What it comes down to here is frankly just doing your research. See if others have had positive experiences will that designer or design company, really think about what you expect from your designer when you’re paying their designer’s fee (and voice those expectations), and so forth. As long as you ask lots of questions, no one should be in the dark.

 

5. To what extent do you offer a “full-service” design experience? 

With the option of both in-person and virtual interior designers nowadays, the scope of what a designer may or may not offer for their quoted price can vary greatly. That being said, it’s important to get a detailed look at exactly what services your designer offers before you fork over any money.

For instance, if you’d really like someone to be there from start to finish (we’re talking sitting down face-to-face to discuss concepts, to “before” photos, to physically styling your room and walking out of your front door at the end of it), then a full-service interior designer may be right for you. Full-service designers often handle everything from beginning measurements, floor plans, and digital renderings, to handling the purchase, delivery, and install of your furniture.

But, these services do cost money, so if you don’t need all the bells and whistles and you think you could handle some of these tasks on your own, then it might be right up your alley to connect with a virtual designer online—much like we did for our studio redesign with Laurel & Wolf and Gray’s pool house makeover with Decorist! In this case, you’ll chat with a real designer online to help you pick pieces that are right for your space, but you’ll likely handle the online ordering, delivery, and install to put together your final look.

Have you ever worked with an interior designer? What necessary questions would you add to this list?

We’ve only had the most positive experiences working with our designers to make our décor dreams come true, and we hope you do too! With these five questions on deck, you’re sure to be prepared for an amazing room makeover.

To see more of our own redesigns and room tours on the blog, click here.

Xx Team GM

Photos: Lauren Scruggs, Amber Lancaster of Lancaster Interiors, Erica Domesek of P.S. I Made This, Helen Owen, & Devin Brugman

 

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