Questions to Ask Your Next Interior Designer

design tips

by Deana Duffek

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Questions to Ask Your Next Interior Designer

Choosing the right interior designer is the first step in the design process.  It can be overwhelming with a multitude of thoughts and questions running through your mind.  Is it the right match? Are we on the same page? How do I explain my vision? Will our visions align?

Ease the way by taking the time to interview designers.  This is a partnership, and depending on the size of your project, you may be spending a lot of time together.  A good personality fit is key to establishing a respectful and enjoyable relationship for both parties.

  1. What is your background? It’s okay to ask questions about education, experience, and professional affiliations.  Doing so can help you gain insight into the designer’s aesthetic, style, and project management approach.
  2. How would you define your style? Get a glance of a designer’s personality and inspiration by asking about their work. What was their favorite project?  What colors do they especially like to use on their projects? What is their favorite room to design? These types of questions can help you learn more about the designer’s aesthetics and what makes their creative juices flow.
  3. Ask for work samples. Pictures, stories, and obstacles encountered on similar projects can help you get to know your designer.  Their past achievements and conflict resolutions can tell you a lot about their style and communication technique.
  4. What is your biggest challenge on a design project? Understanding the designer’s strengths and weaknesses may help you determine if they are a “good fit” for your project and can also aid in avoiding communication issues down the road.
  5. Is client involvement welcome, or do you prefer clients to be hands-off? Some designers consult with the client every step of the process.  Others prefer full creative control.  Knowing ahead of time gives you an idea of what to expect.  Ask yourself how involved you want to be to ensure your expectations are aligned.
  6. Define your project management style. How will the designer communicate their ideas to ensure you are on the same page?  Is the process explained from design through installation? Are all elements (floor plans, renderings, fabrics, flooring, etc.) and selections presented at the same time to illustrate cohesion throughout all pieces/rooms of the project?
  7. Who else is on your team? Find out if there is a larger design team that will be working on your project. Ask how long the team has worked together.  Who will be your primary contact throughout the design process?
  8. Tell me about a time when a client disliked your work? How did you handle the situation? How did you determine what specifically the client didn’t like? How did you resolve the problem to meet the client’s initial goals?
  9. Can you work with some old, loved pieces collected over the years? Things that are personal to us bring life to our space, be it our home, office, vacation home, etc. Be clear on those pieces you want worked into your new design.  Make sure your designer understands the value you place on your “treasures” so there is no miscommunication down the line.
  10. Do you charge by the room or by the hour? It’s important that you know this up front. A room rate is more concrete and will give you a better idea of the total project cost.  If the designer charges by the hour, find out the hourly rate and ask them for an estimated number of hours to complete your project.
  11. Is there a design agreement or letter to sign? An agreement letter between you and the interior designer can outline expectations, specify services being provided, disclose if designer discount fees are being offered, and establish due dates for fees.
  12. Make sure the designer asks you questions. To ensure a productive relationship, a designer needs to know some personal things about you. These could range from general questions about your likes and dislikes to more specific questions about your favorite and least favorite colors, fabrics, textures, accessories, etc.  It’s important that your designer know if you have a preferred look or style that you want to create, as well as any special needs or accommodations that need to be considered.

What are some questions that you would ask! Is there anything I didn’t cover? Let me know!

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