Sunday, June 6, 2010

How to Hire an Interior Designer

Over the weekend a friend visited me from out of town and asked me what she should look for in hiring design help.  She recently purchased a foreclosure and it needs major renovation.  She had spoken with a decorator in her new town, but was worried that this person didn't seem have all the answers to the questions she posed.  Her question to me was simple,  "who do I look for to help me with this renovation?" That is a question that many clients need to have answered.  I began with a bit of an overview of the differences between a decorator and an interior designer.  I gave her questions that she should ask the folks that she interviews and the questions that she should ask of their references.


First, the difference between a decorator and an interior designer is usually education and approach.  An interior designer usually has the education in design that teaches them to look at the whole of a project.  Interior Designer's consider the spaces that they will be affecting from the blueprint to the final accessory and how everything relates to the whole.  An interior designer reads blueprints, understands basic electrical plans, plumbing, and kitchen and bath design.  An interior designer understands space planning and traffic flow, furniture placement and the importance of layering in the rest of the details that will complete the space.  A decorator will help pick colors, and help with adding decorative elements to a space.  Decorator's have their place, but if you want help in managing a project, an interior designer can save you stress and money. 


The following guide should help:

 Simple Steps for Selecting an Interior Design Professional


1. Be sure to look for someone who is easy to talk to. Regardless of the magnitude of your project, you’ll want to know that your designer is approachable.

2. Ask prospective designers to show you samples of their work. A portfolio, a Web site, a studio and client referrals often work in concert to illustrate a designer’s personal style.

3. Ask if they are involved in a professional interior design association. Ask what appellation they carry. This will help you determine where they stand within their industry.

4. Don’t automatically assume an interior designer is out of your price range. Many industry professionals offer reasonably priced services, and their experience and knowledge can often save you money in the end.

5. Trust your designer to guide you through the design process. With numerous projects under his or her belt, it’s often in your best interest to rely on your interior designer’s firsthand experience and knowledge.

Communication Counts


Inviting someone into your home can be rather personal. To make sure the process of working with an interior design professional is a pleasant one, take the time to do a little homework beforehand.

Among the most important considerations is communication. Ideally, you will choose someone with whom you are comfortable; someone who feels like a friend. If you find you’re not on the “same page” when you first meet a prospective designer, it is unlikely things will change down the road.

To avoid communication snafus, make sure you partner with someone who understands your specific wishes and can use his or her knowledge and experience to create a space that is reflective of your interests and lifestyle.

Ask to See Samples and Credentials


Before choosing an interior design professional, ask about his or her credentials and request samples of previous work. A portfolio with photos of other projects can shed plenty of light on a designer’s particular style. In some cases, you may even be able to see a firsthand example of the designer’s work in a studio or some other public location.

It’s also a good idea to find out if the designer is a part of a design organization. Ask about their appellation, are they an associate member, allied member or professional member of their group? This will help you understand their standing within the industry.

Another way to learn more about an interior design professional is to ask for the names of some existing clients. Contact a few and see what they have to say about the process. Having the opportunity to ask questions of someone who has been down the same road with that designer can prove invaluable.

Ask for some trade references, the folks that work with designers tend to know how they work and can often provide insight client's won't have.

Focus on Long-Term Savings


A lot of people are hesitant to enlist the aid of an interior design professional because they are afraid it will cost too much. In many cases, however, that is a misconception. Many designers offer reasonable rates, and when you consider the knowledge and expertise they’re able to provide, they may even save you money in the long run.

Industry professionals are well versed in what works and what doesn’t, and they can suggest plenty of ways to be efficient and economical throughout the design process. Do-it-yourselfers, on the other hand, may choose products that are less reputable than those with a proven track record, wasting unnecessary time and money

Think Big


An interior design professional has the ability to visualize a room in its finished state more easily than an amateur decorator can. Because of this, he or she likely will have a pretty good idea of how everything will fit together before it is finished. The designer will know how big the furniture needs to be, and he or she will have a plan for where various pieces of furniture will be placed. They will have an accessory plan and they will have thought through your lighting needs. Many interior designers today will help clients visualize the room by using technology, sketches, or sample boards.

Thanks to Hotel Depot for the image of the presentation board

The process in choosing an interior designer is an important one, because you will work intimately with them.  Designer's get to know your lifestyle, your marriage and family life, and to some extent your finances.  Many of my designer friends and I agree that helping couples reach agreement on what they want in their homes is often like marriage counseling!  Finding the right fit is important, but once you make the connection, it usually leads to long term friendship, at least that has been my experience.
 

1 comment:

The Shiny Pebble said...

This is wonderful advice. One of my experiences with decorators, specially one who was also a friend, is that she didn't even stay anywhere near my budget. I might be wrong on this, but I believe that designers have a better grasp and responsability when it comes to the final cost of the project.

Calgon Take Me Away...

Calgon Take Me Away...
soak your troubles away in this stone beauty

Bathtub becomes fountain... fabulous!

cottage charm!

perfect for your mountain retreat!

Where I belong...

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members

The AIDP Charlotte Chapter Board Members
Seated from left, Davetta Moore, National Board Member, Wanda Horton, Vice President of Communication, Jane Ann Maxwell, President, standing from left to right, Nancy Martin, Vice President of Membership, Mary Santini, Secretary/Treasurer, and Marianne Parker, National Board Member

Emily's New Room

Emily's New Room

This desk was the inspiration for the room

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...

Decorating for Christmas in Adult and Kid Zones...
Adults will love the beauty of the luxe mantle

This bright, bold mantle is kid friendly

This lovely arrangement is sophisicated and elegant

Kids tables need centerpieces too and these serve as favors to take home afterwards!

The Holiday Table...

The Holiday Table...
This table setting would make a beautiful Thanksgiving breakfast table

Greenery - simple and elegant

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...

These pictures illustrate the idea of using what you love...
One home owner loves classic traditional decore, the other mid century modern. Look at what they created using the things they both loved!!!

Grouping beloved collections create impact

Two collections united by color

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project

Pictures from the Coastal Vibe Project
The chair fabric was designed just for this client and then made into yardage just for these chairs!

The living room seating area. The client wanted it elegant and yet relaxed, with the idea of being at a house on the beach.

We added the built-ins and had the paint changed before the homeowner moved in. A cozy seating arrangement and momentos from world travels warm the space.

another view

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles

These pictures illustrate "staging" principles
This beautiful room was designed to be cozy and full. This room is an example of NOT staging to maximize the square footage. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image

This serene room is designed for maximum spaciousness! Notice that you see lots of floor through the legs of the coffee table. Lots of breathing room in this space. Thanks to House Beautiful for the image.

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post

This is an example of Benjamin Moore Aura paints to go with the About Paint post
One of the many beautiful colors in the Aura collection

Aura paints have low VOC's which means it's healthier for everybody!

To illustrate the post "Art For Your Walls"

The following pictures are artwork from some of my favorite local artists. The fabulous thing about these folks is that they will do commissioned pieces especially for you! Enjoy...

Local Artists...

Local Artists...
Richard Anderson

Celia Flock

Sany Seipert, an older work, her newer stuff is better, this was the only image I had...

The following pictures are from the October High Point Furniture Market.

These are some of the showrooms and displays that I thought were terrific.

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!

Bella Luna was one of my favorite showrooms!
everything on display was quirky and elegant

One of my favorite finds, this mirror is a piece of art!

These sassy stools help tell the Bella Luna story

Cyan design always has unusual and neat things

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!

Hot Color Trend shown at the Spring Market in Highpoint!
black and white and malachite!

Luxury Lighting!

Luxury Lighting!

Favorite New Accessoires...

Favorite New Accessoires...
Contact us for more information or to place an order...

love this!

simply elegant!

fabulous silver platters that are even better in person

These make such a great centerpiece for a dining room table

FALL MARKET 2008 - GORGEOUS COLOR, FOCUS ON "GREEN" DESIGN, FUN WITH LAQUER...

FALL MARKET 2008 - GORGEOUS COLOR, FOCUS ON "GREEN" DESIGN, FUN WITH LAQUER...
New color combo that was everywhere, butter and pewter, so pretty, soft and fresh!

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue

Gorgeous Global Views - always my favorite venue
soft butter and pewter

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...

"GREEN" in both color and sustainablity is a beautiful choice...
These pillows made from abaca leaves and coconut beads are eco-friendly and good for the workers of the developing country in which they are made.

Old favorites are still in play...

Old favorites are still in play...
aqua, teal, peacock are still popular-- note the laquered mirror!

Before and After pictures are always fun!

Before and After pictures are always fun!
This is a "before" picture of a recent project.

After #2!

After #2!

Before #2

Before #2
same room, different view

AFTER!

AFTER!
new carpet, upholstery, paint, window treatments...

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views

More from the High Point Spring Market My Favorite Overall Venue - Global Views
terrific accessories, uniquely displayed

black, white, red, silver punch!

note the male figures at the bottom of the ropes climbing out of the vases!

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market

Favorite Find at the High Point Spring Market
Pablo Mekis Artisan Pillows

the hand stiching is fabulous!

more Pablo Mekis

A designer is as good as her team...

Every designer relies on a team of people to help execute her design vision. I have worked very hard to assemble a top notch team of craftsmen and professionals to rely on for excellence in execution and customer service. I have nick named them "The "A" Team". This name is so appropriate because this group brings their best effort to each task. There are many folks out there that will give you adequate, we strive for exceptional.

The following pictures will introduce you to some of the work done by these guys...

Introducing...

Introducing...
Marilyn Croteau - the BEST window treatment workroom on the East Coast

Introducing...

Introducing...
Heavin Woodworks - beautiful trims and built-ins

Introducing...

Introducing...
G.Richard Anderson Faux Finisher. He does fabulous work!

Oeco Textiles

Oeco Textiles
all natural and all green

A staged breakfast room

A staged breakfast room
We recovered the chairs to co-ordinate with the area rug and added a fresh bunch of flower from the grocery store!

This week...

This week, I am working on two interiors that are either on or are near Lake Wylie, SC. Both homeowners are interested in incorporating a coastal "vibe" into the design for their homes. Working on two homes with the same design direction has never happened in my business before. It will be fun to see just how differently we approach each home. They will be as different and unique as their homeowners and we will be sure to include some after pictures in about 3 or 4 months!

Something's Gotta Give

Something's Gotta Give
from the movie "Something's Gotta Give" the set design for the Nantucket living room is inspiration for a coastal interior that I'm working on right now...

Coastal Inspiration

Coastal Inspiration
another coastal inspiration

this rug from Aspen Carpet Designs is very close to the one in the movie!

BVI's Virgin Gorda - beautiful!

great garden bench