9 Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Interior Designer
How do you choose which one is right for you?
Here are our top nine questions to ask before you hire your next interior designer:
1: What makes you different from other interior design firms?
Every business has a niche. And every client has goals. To figure out if you should swipe left or right on a potential match, read the “about” page on their website for clues if your ideals align, or simply speak to a team member and inquire.
If you’re on a budget, a high-end designer who only works with customized furnishings probably won’t be a good fit. Be sure to understand their mission before you commit.
2: How does your firm (and your designers) make money?
Traditional interior designers make money in a few different ways. One is by recommending items solely from specific suppliers. Then they mark those items up and sell them to you for over cost.
Another is to charge by the hour or a billable rate. The longer the designer takes on your project, the more it will cost you. And that’s just for their time, not the furnishings (see above.)
For a no-surprises design plan, find a design firm that offers packages and set rates where the designers are paid a percentage of the package’s price, not by the hour.
3: Are you limited to specific vendors when you source?
Plain and simple, you may not want to work with a designer that has partnerships with particular vendors or retailers. Again, see above!
4: What are your designer’s qualifications?
It’s always a good idea to check out the firm, and its designers, too. Look to see if there is a page on their website giving you information about the interior designers on their team.
Things to keep in mind about the design team:
- What is their experience, and where did they learn about interior design?
- Does the firm tend to hire brand-new designers or those without an interior design background?
- Are there samples of their work available to view?
- How long have they worked for the same company?
5: Do your designers have certain styles they prefer to work with?
Like everyone else, designers have a personal preference for design style. Do you need to find one who has the same aesthetic as you? Not necessarily. A well-versed designer will tailor your project to your design style, needs, taste, and color.
This one is simple. An interior design firm that offers virtual and in-person services is there to accommodate all types of customers in all kinds of situations.
Note: if you plan on working virtually with a designer, ask about the process since the designer won’t see the space in person.
7: Can you accommodate most all budgets?
This is probably the most important question; believe it or not, it’s the one most clients can’t answer. First, we cannot stress enough—know your budget!
Let’s put it this way. When you’re in the market for a house, you don’t shop until you know how much you can spend. That way, you’re not looking at homes out of your price range.
Some design firms only work with high-end clients and may have minimum spending limits, which could fall way outside your allotted funds. An interior design firm that works with all budgets is a safe bet; no matter your situation, they’ll be an option.
8: How long does a project take?
Do you have months or maybe longer to tie up your home in a drawn-out design process? Or do you need to finish your space in a few weeks? These are great questions to ask before you commit to a designer to ensure the time frame is reasonable for your lifestyle.
9: Do you have return client perks that new clients would not have?
Say you’re going to update your space one room at a time. Essentially, you’ll need to hire your designer more than once. Does the firm offer discounts or any perks to returning customers? You never know what benefits you may be entitled to unless you ask!
So there you have it. Our top nine questions to ask an interior design firm before you hire them.