How to Find the Right Interior Designer/Decorator

Over the last couple of months I've had a lot of different inquiries for design jobs.  Oh how I wish I could take them all on, but as many people know, designers/decorators don't all fit into the one size fits all category.  There are so many of us out in the field that are so incredibly talented, but we all have different styles that we love to work with & all different ways of working on projects.  If I took on every inquiry that came in, I'd be doing both myself & the client a disservice.  #1 I'd be so over worked & end up getting burned out faster than my Volcano candle that I burn 24/7.  #2 I can work with all styles, but my heart wouldn't be 100% in it, because the style you are hoping to get in your home may not be a style that I truly love to do.  

 Are you looking to hire an interior designer/decorator?  Here are some tips that I suggest you do before hiring an interior designer/decorator.     

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#1 Do Your Research

I cannot suggest highly enough to find someone whose portfolio looks like what you want.  And you've got to be realistic too....Sure, you may love their Instagram feed with all the bright white walls & white couches, but if you have toddlers running around that may not work for your season of life.  

I’ve had clients that want modern designs & lots of bright colors throughout their home &  while I took those clients on at the beginning of my career & did great work for them, my heart wasn’t in it completely.  I love classic, traditional spaces & farmhouse designs. Most of my work is pretty neutral with pops of colors here & there.  You won’t find me painting an accent wall in a bright color unless it’s for a kid’s space, and if you look at most of my work, you'll notice it is pretty neutral.  

Go check out the designer/decorator's website, Instagram & Pinterest page.  Look at the work they've done, see if their work looks like what you want in your home.  

Check Out Their Services

Most designers/decorators have their services listed on their website.  Check them out & read through them thoroughly.  You may not need a full room redesign, you may just need a refresh with a few new accessories, but want to get a new look by having the designer come out and work with what you already have.  

If they don't offer what you are looking for shoot them an email to see if it's something they would be willing to do.  They may say no, but it never hurts to ask.  

Look at Their Design Philosophy. 

Some designers/decorators love using higher end fabrics, furniture & accessories, while others like Ikea hacks, DIY projects & love shopping for the best deal on items. You want to make sure your pocketbook is comfortable with your designers taste in items.  For example, your designer maywant you to spend $200 on a pillow or on super expensive drapery, if that's not your thing or it's not where you want to spend your money, then you probably don't want to go with a designer/decorator that offers a lot of high end styling accessories.  And if you do end up going with them on your project, make sure you let them know your expectations on spending. 

For me,  I don’t believe that a beautiful space has to cost a ton. In fact, most of my own house has Ikea curtains and Target pillows because I don’t want to spend a ton on those items because I know that I will either change them out on a whim or my kid’s dirty hands will be all over them.  Most of my clients feel the same way. 

Do you love or have vintage & antique pieces that you want to incorporate into your home? Then you want to make sure that the designer's portfolio shows her designing with older pieces & making them work with a fresh style. 

Read Their Reviews & Testimonies

In this day & age of social media, people aren't afraid to say what they think about everyone & everything.  You should be able to find reviews of your prospective designer/decorator on Facebook, Yelp, Google Reviews, etc.  Read them all, and don't let one bad review turn you away. Go with your gut on what you believe in these reviews.  If there are 10 great 5 star reviews then the one bad review probably doesn't hold much truth.    

DO YOUR RESEARCH, DO YOUR RESEARCH, DO YOUR RESEARCH!  (Sorry for yelling, but seriously DO YOUR RESEARCH!)

#2 Is there Chemistry?

When looking for a designer, you will want to make sure you think you can work with them.  Have them come out & see your space.  Make sure they understand your vision for the space, but also listen to suggestions they may have.  Remember they are the experts. You should be able to tell right off the bat if they are someone you can work with. This is your home & you are going to want to find someone who loves it as much as you do.  You should be able to trust that your designer/decorator is going to treat your home just like they would treat their own & that they design it with you, your family & needs in mind. Even if you love the designer's work, but you know that your personalities will more than likely clash, I'd recommend not getting into a design relationship with them.  You are going to spend a lot of time with your designer, picking selections, shopping, styling, so make sure you feel comfortable with them. 

During your initial consultations have a list of questions on hand & ready to ask.  As designers/decorators we are interviewing you, just as much as you are interviewing us.  We also want to make sure the fit is right for the project so we don't mind you asking a tons of questions.  Here is a short list to get you started....

  • How does their design process work? 
  • Can they work with specific pieces that you already have? 
  • Estimated time frame for the project?
  • What's the best way to communicate with them---phone, email text? 
  • How often can you expect to hear from them throughout the process?
  • How many revisions are allowed throughout the process?
  • How & when do they want to get paid?
  • Do they have any contractors or tradesmen that they work with or recommend? 
  • How many times will they come to the job site and/or if you're working online, how many FaceTime or Skype sessions do you anticipate to have? 

Using these few tips will help you get started to finding the perfect fit for a designer/decorator on your next project. What other questions do you have about looking for an interior designer?  

Good luck on your search & remember....DO YOUR RESEARCH! ;)