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What You Should Consider When Hiring an Interior Designer?

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” Ralf Speth

There is nothing quite like the feeling of walking into a well-decorated space. Everything from the lighting (an important and often forgotten element) to the furniture and art choices immediately set you at ease, embodying a sense of effortless good taste and relaxation.

That said, while it is easy to dream about certain components of the ‘perfect’ living space for your family, you might not be confident in your ability to put it all together. You might be one of those people who ‘knows what I like when I see it.” If this is the case, it will likely take you years to create a home décor scheme that works for you.If you want to speed up the process and end up with a stunning final result, you might want to consider hiring an interior designer. They can help the entire designing phase fly by, doing all of the sourcing, planning and staging for you. The result? A room (or entire home) that is functional while remaining true to your own sense of style.

 
 

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

An interior designer is a skilled professional who works in consultation with clients in order to create rooms and spaces that work for them. While most interior designers have extensive training and education in this field (from dedicated institutes, or as a part of an fine arts degree), some are self taught. Still others might have started their career in architecture, drafting or fashion design and made a lateral move into this dynamic field.

An interior designer might work on massive hotel or commercial projects, or they might focus on a single room for a homeowner. Whatever the size of the space, attention is always paid to safety, design ethos, style and comfort. By expertly mixing colour, patterns, textiles and shapes, a good interior designer can create something that matches your needs in ways you never even dreamed. Artwork, sculpture, bedding, window treatments, accessories, appliances, flooring and furniture –a good interior designer knows how to mix and match these to perfection.

In recent years, more and more interior designers are choosing to focus their talents in modern design specialties. Two of the most popular are green, environmentally friendly design and ergonomic design. Ergonomic design refers to the practice of creating spaces that ‘work’ for the human body, contributing to work environments that help correct posture, prevent muscle strain and reduce vision issues. In green design, interior designers incorporate renewable energy, recycled materials, and up-cycled furniture into their plans.

As in many industries, some interior designers work as independent freelancers, some own their own businesses, and some work for larger companies. Typically, interior designers work in an independent capacity, acting as a contractor with their own client base. No matter what, in order to advance in their career and gain higher paying contracts, an interior designer must be good at what they do and engage in regular career education to keep their skills up to date and on trend.

room with tub chairs  
 

How Much Does An Interior Designer cost?

Just as with any industry, the rates for a professional interior designer can vary wildly. The price for an interior designer just starting out on their own is going to be much cheaper than someone who works for a big name firm. That isn’t to say that you might not strike gold with an affordable young talent, but you need to weigh out how much you are willing to pay for experience and a proven track record.

The British Institute of Interior Designers makes it very clear that there are no set scales that reflect how much an interior designer will cost. They always charge according to their experience and skill. While some prefer to charge an hourly rate (starting at approx. £60 per hour), others will choose to take a percentage of the entire project (with rooms starting from £1000, this could mean they charge an additional £150 for their time).  Remember that this is just a basic guide, and will vary wildly. Also keep in mind that the prices in London will likely be higher than in other parts of the country.

 
 

How To Pick An Interior Designer?

There are a lot of factors to consider when you are choosing your interior designer. Here are some things to think about before you begin your search:

 
  • Ask your friends and family – The best thing about reviews from friends, colleagues and family? They care about you, and they care about the value of their word! They have no vested interest compelling them to recommend a substandard designer. If they have had success with an interior designer in the past, they should be happy to pass on their name and contact details.
  • Assess your budget – This is one of the most important factors in your decision. After all, you might find your heart set on a specific interior designer, only to find out that they are far out of your price range. It pays to think about your budget at the beginning of the process. It is also a good idea to remember that, as with most things, you really do get what you pay for! Spending a little bit more on an interior designer can yield far better results.
  • How do you want to pay? You might have your heart set on a payment plan, but your preferred designer might want a fixed lump sum up front. By going into the negotiations with your preference in mind, you can include your payment schedule ideas in the initial discussions.
  • Start collecting photos and images – One of the best ways to show your interior designer what you want in your home is to literally show them what you want! Every time you see a photo online, pin it into a Pinterest board; if the image is from a magazine, clip it out and save it to a folder. When you schedule your initial call or meeting with the interior designer, you will be armed with a valuable trove of reference materials.
  • Establish a time frame – It is a great idea to go into the entire discussion process with an established (yet still flexible) time frame in which you would like to complete your redecoration project. This will help the designer to allocate you the right amount of time right from the start, and can go a long way in preventing misunderstandings and frustration on both sides.
  • Start taking measurements – You should start the design conversations with a thorough list of all measurements in the space you want designed. Measure rooms, windows, doors, large items of furniture and any other feature in the rooms that could affect how the designer does their job.
  • Keep your future plans and preferences in mind – Design trends change over time, just like any fashion. What you like today might be considered ‘tacky’ or dated in a few years time. Similarly, if you are planning a major renovation in a few years time (for instance, taking down a wall or adding an addition to the back of your home), you should alert your interior designer from the beginning so they can work with this in mind.
 
 

Does Their Style Match Yours?

The most important factor in choosing an interior designer is ensuring that you both have a similar style vision for your space. Now is not the time to be shy! Don’t be afraid to ask a few different interior designers about their particular design ethos and style inspirations. After all, if you are looking for a Bowie-esque rock n’ roll feel and they specialise in Regency design, you likely are not going to be a good fit for one another.

Consider asking them about:
  • Other designers (fashion, architecture and even graphics) that they like
  • The artists that inspire them
  • Some of their favourite pieces of art
  • Their own home and office – what do they think makes a workable, attractive space?
 
 

Can They Provide Testimonials?

You wouldn’t go stay at a five star resort without reading reviews or listening to first hand testimonials, and likewise, you shouldn’t trust any independent contractor without perusing their testimonials. After all, the gleaming portfolio and extensive ideas that impressed you so much will be meaningless if your interior designer lacks work ethic, respect, punctuality and your budget. You need to assess their reviews in order to ensure that they are a consumate professional when it comes to their work, and that they will do what they say they will do.

 
 

Summary

Interior designers can help you to create the home or office space you have always dreamed of, but it always pays to shop around, ask questions about their design ethos, and read their testimonials. By speaking with them extensively before you sign a contact and give the ‘green light,’ you can save yourself a lot of stress, headaches, time and money.