Interested in having the help of an interior designer on your next project? Great! Now how do you go about finding the right one for you? While this can be a tricky question, I have a few tips to finding a good designer to match your needs and your style.
1. Ask around. Ask your friends, neighbors, and even co-workers if they have ever worked with an interior designer. Maybe they have someone they recommend! Maybe they know who you should stay away from. Most people are happy to tell you about their experiences (good or bad). Contact those designers and ask for references you might call.
2. Inquire about qualifications. Decide if you want/need a Registered Interior Designer (RID) for the job (please see my previous post “Designing Mind”). Sometimes you need an RID to draw up plans to get permits, etc. If you need something minor done, you might not be interested in their degree or work history- just whether or not their work appeals to you.
3. Browse their portfolio. Designers will be more than happy to show you their work if they are proud of it and have happy clients! Be wary of a designer who doesn’t have any visual documentation of their designs. Seeing a variety of completed jobs can help you to understand the designers style, taste, and approach to design. Find one that matches your own taste or that has the knowledge of a style you are striving to achieve.
4. Show me the money! Some designers ask for a retainer or a deposit for larger jobs. It is NOT common for a designer to ask for 100% up front. Make sure to ask ahead of time for how the designer is paid whether its commission, flat fee, hourly, or any combination of the sort. This will ensure there are no questions later and you are left with an unexpected bill in the end.
5. Schedule a visit. Once you’ve narrowed your list to 1-3 designers request for a visit to the job site or meet in person to discuss the project. See if you can socialize comfortably, if they return your calls in a timely manner, and compare each cost estimate to help make your final selection.
Don’t get me wrong, even when following these tips a few bad eggs can slip through the cracks. But in the end just use your own judgement. There are so many variables in the selection of a designer that sometimes just finding one you can work with might be the best choice . Best of luck and happy hunting!