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6 Insider Tips for Choosing a Great Interior Designer

Interior designers are responsible for creating spaces that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. They guide you in making the best use of your space and determine how to bring your vision to life. The process of interior design and interior decorating is and should be personal and intimate.

Think of choosing the right interior designer a little like dating― you will want to find the perfect match, trust each other, and share a common understanding of likes, dislikes, budget, and more. Now with that said, here are some steps to consider before starting your home decorating journey with an interior designer.

1.   Define Your Style

Defining your home decorating style will be one of the most critical stages in choosing the right interior designer. For example, if you are drawn to minimal and sleek interiors, you will likely want your space to be just that — minimal and elegant. On the other hand, if you are more of a maximalist, you will probably want to incorporate a mix of patterns and textiles into your space.

To define your style, we suggest collecting a series of images that reflect your aesthetic. Consider creating a Pinterest board of your favorite photos or other digital files that you can easily share with your interior designer.

2.   Set Your Budget

Budget often dictates what can and cannot be done with a space, so it is VERY important to have a clear idea of what your budget is prior to hiring an interior designer. Clients are often vague about what they can afford at the beginning. They prefer not to reveal their budget until after the initial quote is delivered. Instead, expect to be upfront and transparent about what you are willing to spend. Remember that interior designers work with all sorts of budgets. If they have a clear understanding of their limitations from the beginning, they will be able to deliver a plan most suited to you.

When you set your budget, you will also want to determine how your interior designer bills their client. Each designer is different-- some charge by the hour, and others charge a flat rate. One is not necessarily better than the other, but every client should ask how they will be billed and have a clear understanding of the payment timeline.

3.   Meet With Designers

This is where the fun begins. Meeting with interior designers and interior decorators is the exciting first step in your remodeling journey. This is also the phase of the process that you will want to ask the most questions. Here’s are some questions we recommend asking:

  • What design styles do you like or dislike?
  • What is your design process?
  • How long do you expect this project to take?
  • How do you present your ideas?
  • How often will we communicate?
  • What’s your availability?

We also recommend doing your own research and asking questions that are specific to you. The more detailed you can be, the better the chance you’ll find a designer that will work well with you and meet your expectations.

4.   Share Your Ideas

Sharing your ideas and expectations of what you want your home to look like will ultimately lead to a successful project. This is your home, so don’t be afraid to overshare. Try to be as specific as you can― use plenty of images and inspiration to communicate your desired aesthetic.

Your ideas should also include a brainstorm that tells the designer how you want the space to feel. For example, ask yourself what kind of emotions do you want your home to evoke? Interior designers will also want to know how you plan to use this space, its primary function, and who will be using it. Being clear about this will give the interior designer a more thorough understanding of what they need to deliver.

5.   Hatch a Plan

Don’t be afraid to let your interior designer take the lead here. Have an open mind and let them guide you. Of course, you can always provide feedback and make adjustments, but at the end of the day, you are hiring an interior designer to manage the process.

It’s also worth noting that the plan may not be exactly what you imagined — the interior designer may have had to omit some details to stay within your budget or keep items you had hoped to remove because of structural reasons. Whatever it may be, remember that the interior designer is the professional here, and you have hired them because you trust their process.

6.   Finishing Touches

If you’re hiring an interior designer for a complete redecorating project, they will likely be purchasing many furniture items on your behalf. The benefit of having your interior designer purchase all the furniture and accessories for you is that they often buy the pieces with a trade discount or at cost price.

That said, it’s not uncommon for the interior designer or interior decorator to apply a “markup.” This is also known as a “designer’s net price.” This fee is usually a percentage of the item, and it can vary greatly, but it usually falls between 15% and 25%. Of course, a good interior designer will be upfront about these costs during the budgeting phase. Still, the client ultimately saves money as they have access to a wide variety of furniture and accessories at prices that are typically below retail.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to choosing an interior designer, it pays to do your research first. You want to be confident in them and their ability to deliver your vision. The redecorating process is personal, so don’t rush the process. Instead, take your time building up your own wish list, getting comfortable with a budget, and doing your own research-- that way you will be more prepared for the experience.

Here at Macy Lane Designs, we pride ourselves on our functional and realistic approach to the design process. If you have any questions about the process of working with an interior designer, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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