An interior designer can help you transform your space, turning your vision into reality, providing expert advice and solutions to your design challenges. But with so many options out there, how do you decide on the perfect partner for your interior design project? These guidelines, based on personal experience of what works with our clients, will get you off to a great start!
A space is made up of many different components all of which contribute to the overall impression. Some key elements in planning and material selections are made early in the project so the earlier you bring your design partner on board, the better their chance to create a cohesive space. For base build items such as flooring for example, there may be a long lead time for delivery so selections are made early yet significantly impact overall colour and material choices. Likewise, size and location of windows can impact what is possible for window treatment choices made further down the track.
Be clear about what you’re looking for
An interior designer’s services may include space planning, material and finishes specifications, kitchen and bathroom design, custom joinery, furniture design and selection, window treatments and lighting. Qualifications, experience and business focus vary widely across the sector so ensure there is a good fit between what you want and what is on offer. Putting thought into your project at the start could save you time, stress and money later. What do you want to achieve from your interior design project? How does the space relate to other rooms in your house? What’s your budget and timeframe? One way of collating all your ideas is in a Design Brief. We’ve developed a handy guide “12 Top Tips for the Ideal Interior Design Brief” including the template we use for our clients, which you may find helpful. You can download it here.
Use your networks
Ask friends, family or work colleagues for recommendations. As well as physically looking at their revamped spaces, ask them about the process they went through with their designer. What was the relationship like? Did the designer listen to them or dictate their style on the project? Was the project completed on time, within budget and do they still love their space?
An online search for interior designers will provide you with plenty of choice. Being clear about what you are looking for in an interior designer will help you whittle down the options. Visit various interior designers’ websites, review their portfolios; do you like their work, is it varied or does every project seem to have a similar style? This is fine if it’s the style you’re looking for, not so good if it isn’t! What’s their background and experience, what do their clients say, are they professionally trained, are they members of any professional organisations? Also take a look at their social media presence to help you get an idea of what they are like and how they work. You’re likely to get a better feel for them as a person on social media, with candid shots of work in process and direct comments from the designer. By this stage, you should have a short-list of around 3-4 potential interior designers.
Get to know your prospective interior designer
We recommend you start with a phone call rather than email, this will speed up the process. Have your Design Brief handy so you are clear about what you want from your interior designer. And be honest about your expectations, timeframe and budget so that the interior designer has a genuine understanding of your project requirements. You’re going to be partners in this project so it’s important that you have a good working relationship.
Having done the background work and spoken to some designers you are likely to have a front runner. Visit them in their office environment and get a feel for how they work, do you actually like them?! Note how they approach the conversation, do they ask lots of questions, are they enthusiastic, engaged and genuinely interested in your ideas? If your face-to-face meeting confirms your choice, set up a time for them to visit the project’s space.
Your prospective interior design partner should now have everything they need to provide you with a written Project Proposal. Agree a date for submission of the proposal but don’t expect design ideas at this stage. The proposal should be broken down into the different stages of the design process and include fees at each stage. It should provide a “reverse brief”, summarising your designer’s understanding of your requirements and be clear about what they will deliver for you. Finally, when considering time, budget and quality you can realistically only have two. So please be wary of any interior designer who promises all three (tight timeframe, superior quality and low budget). You’re likely to be disappointed.
Trust, mutual respect and good communication is imperative for a positive result. The right interior designer will help you create a space that works well, looks great and makes you feel good for years to come.