Sunday, June 01, 2008

Eleven Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Interior Designer.

Back in January 2006, we wrote a post entitled Eight Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Interior Designer. The eight questions were part of an article in Home magazine and we linked to the magazine.

We like to link to an article and highlight several questions in our post, rather
than list all the questions. That way people go to the linked site and we both benefit from the traffic. One of our frustrations looking back at some of our posts is that not all articles are archived. If you click on the link above, you land on the magazine’s website, but it’s the June 2008 issue and the “Eight Questions…are gone!

It’s been awhile, so, because of inflation, we’ve come up with our own eleven questions:

1. Do I like the designer? Can I spend a lot of time with him/her? Good communication is a must. Working with an interior designer involves some give and take. You will share ideas, and the designer will contribute insights and advice based on his or her talents, knowledge and experience. Depending on the scope of the project, you could be working with your designer a couple of weeks to many, many months.

2. Do I get that he/she is trying to understand me by asking a lot of questions? The key to success is really getting to know you in the early stages and how you and your family use your home and your interests.

3. Does the scale of my project really warrant an interior designer? Even if you think you could accomplish the redesign, do you have the time and inclination? You need to be realistic about how much money you are willing to spend. Include in this estimate the cost of all raw materials, new furniture, labor for installations, and possibly a designer.

4. How do you charge for your time? Designers may charge by the hour, which can be anywhere from $35 to $300, and these costs can quickly mount up. Others may offer a free first consultation, and then quote you a flat fee on the basis of your discussions. Some may charge for the first meeting in advance and then a fee for the whole project based on the estimated hours. Some may bill you for hours used each month. Some may bill each month a level amount. Some may get a designer discount and pass some or all the savings on to you. Whatever the basis on which your interior decorator is paid, make sure you both agree on the budget.

5. Can we accomplish the redesign and stay within my budget?

6. I can’t decide if I like the design. Do I still have to pay for it? “Yes! When you decide to hire an interior design firm, you have decided to trust the design recommendations of that firm.”

7. Are you available for conversation about changes and fine tuning? A good designer knowing you may present you with several options and give you the choice of one or the other. ASID recommends: “Minimize changes to your plan. Each part of the design will affect the whole. Changes or special requests can require any number of adjustments that will add time and expenses to your project.

8. My friend doesn’t like your ideas. Why shouldn’t I listen to her/him? If you have to ask this question you should probably have hired your friend.

9. Can I go to the local Design Center? With or without you? Of course, just let them know that you are working with a designer and his/her name.

10. What if a piece of furniture comes damaged? The furniture store should inspect the furniture when it arrives. The designer should also inspect the furniture before it goes to the client. If something is missed or it breaks when it is used, the designer and the furniture store will work together with the vendor to resolve any problem.

11. How long does it take to receive things, once they are ordered? Here’s a guideline (though individual vendors may vary):
Upholstered Furniture: 10-16 weeks depending on vendor.
Casegoods – Chests, bookcases, tables, hutches, etc.: 8-12 weeks depending on vendor.
Window Treatments: 6-8 weeks depending on size of job
Accessories, Lamps, Art Prints, Silk Flowers/Plants: 4-6 weeks or less.
Rugs: If machine made, 2-4 weeks. If hand knotted, 3-4 months
Wallpaper/Fabrics: 3-5 days.

Several websites contributed to this list of questions and their answers:

Apartment Therapy LA Good Questions: Hiring an Interior Designer
ASID Working with a Designer
Nancy Werneken Interior Design Frequently Asked Questions
Lynle Ellis Designs Before You Hire an Interior Designer
NWSID Why Hire an Interior Designer?
CCIDC Frequently Asked Questions About Certified Interior Designers
Directory M articles Interior Decorator

Bev & Mike
Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery

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