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Questions to Ask An Interior Designer

So you're considering hiring a designer for your next home refresh or redesign project?

Maybe your last home design or decorating project left you feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or exhausted. Or you're too busy with your family, your job, and all of the other responsibilities and priorities on your plate that you keep moving your home projects further down your to-do list until you "have more time."

Background Photo Credit: Caitlin Antje

So if you're done trying the DIY route and you're thinking of working with an interior designer or decorator on your next project, it's helpful to know what to expect before your project starts. Most of my clients haven't worked with a designer previously, and I'm happy to help answer their questions about the process and how it works. One designer may have a different approach or process than the next, so here are a few questions you'll want to make sure you're clear on before you get started:

Do you take on projects outside of your "signature style" or aesthetic?

Whether a designer or decorator tends to focus on certain styles or color palettes (Traditional, modern, or coastal farmhouse? Bold, bright colors or calming neutral palettes?), it helps to have an idea of their typical style and if it aligns with the look you're going for in your own home. Usually you can tell by images of projects shared on their website, portfolio, or social media. While the majority of our clients are looking for coastal, modern-farmhouse inspired styles with neutral colors, we also get requests for bright pops of color or different styles like mid-century modern - which we can absolutely oblige!

What is included with my design service or project?

Depending on what you are hiring a designer or decorator for, and whether you will be working together virtually or in person, it helps to know exactly what you will receive with your design service. Does it include any in-home appointments? Which room(s) in your home are included in the project? Will you receive design or space planning tools like a floor plan, visual design/mood board, or 3D rendering? What specific furniture or décor pieces will the designer be selecting for you? Will you receive any paint, fabric, tile, area rug, or wallcovering samples so you can actually see a product in person before purchasing? Will the designer handle all of the purchasing, tracking, delivery, and customer service on your behalf, or will you be purchasing your new furnishings and décor directly?

Knowing what you will receive with your service, and having it outlined on a project estimate or in the service contract, can help clarify any questions before you begin and provide a more seamless design experience.

Photo Credit: CNC Home & Design

How do you charge for your services?

Depending on the designer or decorator you're working with, there are different ways designers are compensated for their services. Some designers charge hourly for their design services and send monthly invoices, while others charge a project fee based on the size and complexity of your project, and may collect a deposit for your project to begin. Either way, you will want to know before your project starts when you will be expected to pay for your design services.

How much will my project cost?

This may seem obvious, but regardless of whether your designer charges on an hourly or project fee basis, it helps to have an estimate from your designer on how much you can expect to invest in your project - not only in terms of their design services, but also what you might expect to invest in new furnishings, décor, materials, or even estimates from other professional services like a contractor, electrician, etc. Having estimates of all of these expenses before starting your project can help from a financial planning perspective, so you have an idea of what to expect and what your project will take to accomplish before it begins.

How long will my project take?

Like many industries today, the home improvement industry is still facing challenges such as labor and material shortages, rising shipping expenses, and longer than usual lead times. What this means is your design, remodel, or decorating project is likely to take longer than it typically would. Trade professionals such as contractors, wallcovering installers, etc. currently have wait times of more than 3 to 6 months, and even furniture orders may take weeks or months before they even ship.

Keeping all of this in mind, we help our clients anticipate and plan for these timeframes, so we can provide a more realistic expectation of when their dream spaces will come to life and help to account for these scenarios when planning out your project.

We also put together an estimated "project calendar" before your project begins. Whether it will be completed in 6 weeks, 6 months, or a year, we provide an approximate timeline for you along with dates of when each phase of the design process is estimated to start and be completed, so you have a clear idea of what to expect along the way - and when you will get to celebrate your newly refreshed space!

How will we communicate?

What's the best way for you to contact your designer? Should you call, text, or email? What about sending a message through social media? Will you be meeting in person or over Zoom? How should you expect to receive communication and updates on your project, and how frequently?

While texting and email can be convenient, we actually use a very organized and efficient platform, our Design Studio, to communicate with clients and keep them up to date on their projects. Many of our clients are busy working professionals and/or parents, so we understand that they could be tied up in meetings or conference calls during the day, are usually not available to answer the phone, and are likely already receiving plenty of emails and text messages. The convenience of Design Studio allows them to login and check the progress of their project at any time, or read their weekly project update at their convenience.

Photo Credit: CNC Home & Design

Whichever method(s) your designer will use to share updates on your project, it helps to know ahead of time how you can expect to hear from them or how to reach them if you have any questions.

Thinking about working with a designer? Let's talk! Double tap the button below to schedule your discovery call, and learn more about if it's right for you:

Photo Credit: Caitlin Antje

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