Choosing the right interior designer is no simple task. Many factors come into play that will shape the experience and overall outcome of the design. Additionally, depending on the scope of your project, you could be working with your designer for months, possibly years. That’s why we believe it’s important you find someone right for you. In order to do that, you need to know how interior designers differentiate themselves in terms of service and style. To help you feel confident about your choice, here are some things to consider when hiring your interior designer.
First and foremost, you want an interior designer who can give you a design that matches your aesthetic (or your business’s brand, for you commercial clients). Even if you don’t know your style, per se, you can easily determine if a designer’s style matches yours by looking at their portfolio. If their work speaks to you, add them to your list! You want someone who’s skilled in designing your aesthetic so they can personalize their design to you.
LEVEL OF SERVICE
Another factor to consider is the level of service you’d like your interior designer to perform. For example, we at Beyond Interior Design are a full-service design firm. Therefore, simply put, when we take over a project, we handle everything — from design to build-out and everything in between. If you don’t have the know-how and time to put together a cohesive space, full-service design is a great option for you.
On the other hand, you may want a designer to consult on your space, giving you ideas that you can later execute. Or you could, like many people, lie in the in-between and want a designer to create the design while you make the purchases and take over the build-out. No matter the level of service you’re looking for, there are designers out there for you. You just need to know what level of service fits your needs.
To further hone in on a designer that’s right for your project, consider what special interests or design goals you have and compare them to those of the designers you’re considering. Are you someone who wants a connected house, aesthetically and wirelessly? If so, perhaps you want a designer experienced in incorporating smart-home technology into their designs. Do you live a natural and holistic life? Maybe you’d benefit from a designer who has biophilic and sustainable design principles at their core. The more aligned you are with your designer, the easier it is for them to create a space personalized to you. Even if they don’t advertise their specialty, ask them more about what inspires them. The discovery process is a two-way street so take advantage of it!
COST OF DESIGN
When considering the cost of design, you must take into account the designer’s fees as well as the implementation of the design. Still, understanding the cost of design can be tricky because numerous factors come into play. A designer’s vendors (i.e. sources for furnishings, finishes, etc.) will heavily impact the overall cost, as will the level of service. With some services, such as e-design or consultation packages, the design cost is stated upfront, and you have more control over the vendors you purchase from. Therefore, the total cost of design is easier to grasp. For full-service design firms, it’s more complex, as a designer simply can’t provide an accurate project quote until after the products are sourced and the design is complete.
Don’t worry, there are still ways for you to understand if your budget matches the cost of a designer. For one, you can tell them the scope and desired budget of your project and ask if that’s accomplishable by their firm. You could also determine if the designer has a project minimum and what that minimum is. We’ll use ourselves in another example. Because we typically design custom kitchens, we average at least $60-$100K for kitchen remodels. Additionally, we have a $50K project minimum. If those numbers are not in your budget this time around, that’s totally ok! But it’s helpful to understand that early on so you can make the right decision when selecting a designer.
THINGS TO ASK YOUR DESIGNER
Who oversees the build-out of my design?
Some interior design firms hire general contractors to oversee the build-out of a design while other designers have the credentials (i.e. contractor’s license) to manage the project themselves. Many benefits come from hiring a designer who will also project manage the buildout, including streamlined communication, accurate implementation, and shared industry discounts.
What’s your fee structure — hourly or flat-fee?
Most designers offer two types of fee structures, hourly or flat-fee, both of which are pretty straightforward. A designer either bills the clients for hours worked or creates a flat-fee based on estimated hours worked. Some clients really love the flat-fee because they know the number upfront. It’s important to understand that flat-fees are typically derived from estimated total hours plus hours for unforeseen issues or design edits. In other words, clients might pay for more hours than actually worked. Other people enjoying an hourly fee structure because they only pay for hours worked. They just don’t know the total cost of design fees until after services are complete.
How transparent is your design firm?
Transparency is key, especially for hourly-fee firms, because you should know where your money is going. One thing we do at Beyond Interior Design is offer monthly invoices with detailed descriptions of all hours logged.
Now that you know what factors to consider when selecting your interior designer, you can confidently hire someone who will excel at your project. If that interior designer happens to be us, wonderful! We can’t wait to speak with you more and start our journey together.
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