Choosing an Interior Designer

How to hire an interior designer.

Interior designers bring a vast amount of knowledge to both residential and commercial interior design challenges. They can make a dramatic difference in the function, enjoyment and value of your home.

From minor decorating advice to a completely integrated interior design plan and implementation, an experienced interior designer will work with you and your budget to create harmonious design solutions that work. He or she will take into account your personal preferences and lifestyle, such as if you like to cook or entertain, if you have pets or children, if anyone in your home is handicapped or has allergies, if you want to plan for "aging in place," and if you want sustainable or eco-aware solutions.

 Typical Interior Designer Services Include:

  • Assessment of current furnishings and accessories
  • Identification of your needs, both short-term and long-term
  • Space planning with Computer Aided Design (CAD)
  • Product specification and purchasing
  • Installation management

If you've shopped around for an interior designer before, you may have a big, burning question--why is there such a wide range in the prices different interior designers charge? Like many professions, interior designers bring varying levels of education, accreditation and experience to the table.

Ask these questions when you interview interior designers for your job so you can compare them more effectively:

Are You Licensed as an Interior Designer?

According to the American Society of Interior Designers, not all states require licenses to practice as an interior designer. Those that do usually require a combination of education and experience, as well as passage of a qualifying exam. The most common exam is the one offered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDC).

What Is Your Experience?

Experience is where you'll start to be able to separate designers. However, experience is also what can drive up the costs of a designer. If you have a small project or a very limited budget, you may want to take a chance on a new designer whose limited work you like and who seems to understand your objectives.

How Do You Price Projects?

Interior designers can price by the hour or by the project. They can also price a project in phases, with each phase offering a complete solution (one complete room, for instance) so that you can stop the project between phases, if needed, and not feel like you have to live with unfinished work.

Do You Offer Space Planning with Cad?

Computer-assisted design is a wonderful way to shorten the design timeframe, improve design quality, and reduce human errors. Depending upon the size of your project and your budget, CAD capabilities can make a measurable difference.

Do You Pass Along Designer Discounts on Products?

Designers often get access to furnishings, fixtures and fabrics that are not available to the general public, as well as discounts on items that are commonly available. Designers may or may not pass these discounts on to you. It's worth asking about--and possibly negotiating. Savings from these purchases can offset the costs of an interior designer's services so that hiring an interior designer becomes more affordable.

May I See Samples of Your Work?

Visuals are key when choosing an interior designer. Tastes are objective and you either want someone whose taste you like or who shows an ability to provide solutions in a wide variety of styles suited to each client's needs.

May I Have Names and Phone Numbers of Previous Clients?

Working with an interior designer is a very personal experience. You want to be sure that the interior designer you choose is professional and personable. Ask previous clients how the interior designer performed in regard to budget, schedule, and successful fulfillment of objectives, and how he or she responded to events during the project such as conflicts with subcontractors, damaged goods, scheduling changes, or any other possible occurrences of day-to-day business. Find some great local interior designers here.

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