If you want your home to reach its ultimate potential—both aesthetically and functionally—the best move is to hire a professional interior designer.
After buying a house, working with an interior designer is the next step in seeing your dream home come to life, from drafting initial design concepts and creating 3D renderings to selecting pieces to fill your space and enhance your lifestyle.
Whether you’re going with a full remodel or a minimal renovation, hiring an interior designer will help you navigate the different stages of the process with ease, from the beginning of the project to completion.
But how do you choose the right interior designer? Here, we list down some qualities to look for, questions to ask, common mistakes to avoid, and tips that will help you zero in on the right interior designer for your home remodeling needs.
BEFORE YOU START
Finding the right interior designer becomes much easier if you know what to look for. Before requesting a consultation, take time to research so you’ll have a clear idea of your design preferences and the traits you’re looking for in a designer.
Below are some steps to take to help you prepare for your project.
Establish a budget
First and foremost, you’ll have to figure out how much you can comfortably spend, or create a savings plan in case you need more time. Your budget will be a key factor if you want your designer to guide you through the process effectively.
Thinking up alternate plans in case your budget falls short of what’s needed is always a smart move. Are you willing to compromise on certain elements of the project, or will staggering the project across several stages be a better option?
You can discuss your proposed budget with your designer to find out whether it’s reasonable. Remember to be upfront about your budget. You want your designer to know how much you’ll be able to spend before they create a design plan.
Once the project starts, use a budget tracker app to monitor your expenses to avoid going beyond your budget.
Set a timeline
Be honest and reasonable when setting a timeline for your interior design project. The length of time needed will depend on the scale. Most interior renovations will require a significant amount of time and a lot of planning.
Be prepared for the possibility of staying somewhere else temporarily while the project is underway. Depending on the type of renovation, upgrading a single room may take from one day to an entire week, so make room for adjustments during that period.
Know your goals
Are you planning to live in your home for the next 20 years or so, or are you renovating to boost your home’s value to prepare for a sale?
Establishing clear goals at the start will help you get the advice you need. Your interior designer will go with customized higher-end solutions that will last for years to come if you’re designing your dream home, and suggest cost-effective options if you’re sprucing up your residence for a quick sale.
Create a visual board
Most interior designers are visual thinkers, so creating a Pinterest board or compiling images of designs and rooms you love will be extremely helpful! It’s also an opportunity to crystallize your vision, zero in on colors and design elements you like, and convey a personal style your designer can focus on.
Your interior designer will take a look at the images you’ve collected and discuss what appeals to you in every image. They’ll look for a clear pattern to emerge to help define your unique style.
Decide on color choices early
The colors you choose have a significant impact on how your interior design project unfolds. Once you’ve selected your colors, consider other design elements that could complement or clash with them.
In your initial consultation, ask the interior designer if the colors you’ve chosen will work well with fabrics, metal, wood, and other textures and materials you’d like to have in your interiors.
Prepare all materials and items
In line with creating a visual board and selecting colors, make sure all items and materials you want taken into account are ready onsite for your interior designer’s consideration.
For example, if you want a designer’s opinion about whether a vintage piece will match the look of your new living room, make sure your designer sees it in person.
Designate decision-makers for the project
If you have a partner or family member who has a vested interest in the project’s success, make sure they’re involved during the early stages. They should have input on the budget and collaborate with you when you’re compiling images to show the designer.
At the very least, all decision-makers should be present in the meeting when discussing details with the designer. This will save a lot of time and frustration since your interior designer will get a clearer picture of how to approach the project and create a design that all parties will be happy with. With a skilled designer, even two seemingly opposing ideas and styles can be combined to create a unique look.
Have an open mind
Even if you’ve given your interior designer a clear direction, remember to keep an open mind and give your designer space to use their creativity to come up with options you might not have thought of.
Trust their expertise. This is why it’s best to research several designers before you schedule a consultation. This way, you can find the ones who can create the type of aesthetic you can connect with.
QUALITIES AND TRAITS TO LOOK FOR
To know how to choose the right interior designer, you need to know which qualities to look for. Becoming a successful interior designer requires passion and an unwavering resolve to get to a level where their designs are highly regarded.
Here are some traits to look for in an interior designer.
Embraces diverse styles
Exceptional interior designers have developed a vast knowledge of many styles and techniques. While they might have a personal preference when it comes to styles, every space they work on is essentially a blank canvas that should never be used to recreate previous versions of their work.
Being able to adapt to new design trends and ideas without sticking to their preferred style is one of the core qualities of top interior designers. They must be flexible enough to adjust to different client requirements and budget constraints as well.
Keen attention to detail
Professional interior designers need to have a keen eye for detail to create cohesive, well-balanced spaces with all elements perfectly in place. Having attention to detail ensures that every element of the design, no matter how small, is well-thought-of and adds to the overall functionality and aesthetics of the space.
To help you get a feel for a designer’s detail-orientedness, look at their portfolio and ask questions about the color schemes, furniture layouts, lighting fixtures, and materials. This will give you a glimpse of their thought process and how they approach design challenges.
Excellent communication skills
Interior designers need effective communication skills for them to articulate design concepts clearly and build strong client relationships.
For the project to be successful, they have to work seamlessly with contractors and other professionals as well. An interior designer needs to have excellent communication skills to explain their design, manage budgets and timelines, and ensure everything is executed perfectly.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AN INTERIOR DESIGNER
You want to find an interior designer who will be the best match for the project, so it’s essential to know what questions to ask. Below are key questions to ask that can help you choose the right interior designer.
How would you describe your style?
How to choose the right interior designer relies heavily on the design style you’re looking for.
Pay close attention to how the designer describes their vision, and if it matches yours. Some interior designers focus on a single style profile while others are more versatile, specializing in a wide range of styles.
If you gravitate towards a specific style, then it makes sense to work with an interior designer who has expertise in that style. But if you’re not set on any particular style, interview different designers, take a look at their portfolios, and find a style that resonates with you the most.
How do you structure your projects?
If you want to know how an interior designer manages timelines and what you can expect from the process, find out how they structure each project. Start by requesting a consultation, and then ask questions about the design process. If they divide the process into several parts, ask how long each part takes so you can get an idea of how long the entire project will take from start to finish.
At Layne Kelly Homes, our team of interior designers works closely with clients to get a deeper understanding of their lifestyles and goals. Every step of our integrated design process takes into account the preferences, requirements, and budgetary goals of our clients.
What type of services do you offer?
Interior designers offer a variety of services, so it’s important to know exactly what type of services you’ll be getting. You want to make sure you work with a firm that specializes in the type of services required by your project.
Examples of services offered by interior designers include:
- Design conceptualization
- Space planning
- Assessment and measurement of the site
- Project management
How do you communicate with your clients?
Communication is a key factor when you’re figuring out how to choose the right interior designer. Being in constant communication with your designer when you’re paying an hourly rate will result in fees adding up. Ask the designer how involved you can be during the process, and be ready to make decisions early and trust your designer’s creativity.
Find out about the interior designer’s preferred mode of communication, and make sure it’s in line with how you’d like to communicate.
You’ll want to know how they present their plans and designs as well. Do they use design boards, binders and folders, or digital renderings? During presentations, you need to visualize clearly and make decisions if needed, so you want to be comfortable with the method used to present designs.
Can you recommend contractors?
You might be able to get a discount if you hire an interior designer with an already-established relationship with local contractors. But even if you’re unable to get any type of discount, an interior designer who’s well-connected to reputable contractors is a valuable asset. Having access to contractors who can bring their expertise to the process will enhance the overall design as well as the functionality of spaces in your home.
Do you have experience working on similar projects?
This question offers insight into the level of experience and expertise of a prospective designer. If you’re looking for an interior designer who specializes in lighting, for example, then you want to see previous projects they’ve completed. If you find a project that aligns with your goals, ask to see before, during, and after photos to get an idea of what the results might look like.
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID
Not taking time to research
Do your research and try to get in touch with several interior designers. Remember to ask as many questions as possible in your interviews. Request photos, materials, and information on previous projects, and find out more about their process.
Focusing on the numbers
Top-quality interior design is an investment. One of the most common mistakes to avoid is to approach an interior design project with a mindset that focuses on the possibilities and the results.
It takes a significant amount of time and resources for every design brief, including input from engineers, architects, and other professionals. Keep in mind that the fees and payment terms vary from designer to designer, so look beyond the numbers when looking for an interior designer.
Hiring based solely on interview performance
Some interior designers excel at showcasing themselves, which makes them look exceptional during interviews.
Even if you’ve made a strong personal connection with a designer, don’t forget to check their authenticity. Hiring a designer just because they’ve made a positive impression during the interview can turn out to be a mistake later on.
Keep in mind that you’ll be working closely with this person throughout the project, so make it a point to meet with all qualified candidates from your list before you make a decision.
Having unreasonable expectations
The interior designer’s goal is to make the result match the expectations of their clients.
While some minor modifications and changes can be resolved, there’s nothing a designer can do if the client has unrealistic expectations. In most cases, these expectations stem from the desire to start from scratch and completely change the look of the interiors.
Unless you’re tearing your entire house down and replacing it with a new one, some original elements from your previous interiors will still exist no matter how extensive the project is. Hence, setting realistic expectations and working together with your designer is always a smart move.
Not trusting your designer
Interior designers need some leeway to showcase their creativity and talents. They are skilled professionals who understand what works and what doesn’t for your home’s interiors. They evaluate homes and know what they need to do to achieve a particular look in line with the client’s preferences.
When discussing alterations, remember to keep an open mind and take note of any concerns they might have regarding your ideas. An experienced designer can visualize all of the changes you requested easily, so give them the space to let their imagination and creativity run free!
WORK WITH LAYNE KELLY HOMES FOR TOP-LEVEL INTERIOR DESIGN SERVICE
When you work with us at Layne Kelly Homes, you get a top-level interior design team that will keep your project on track by assisting with the timely selection and installation of fixtures and finishes.
As the #1 luxury home builder in Houston, we offer a fully integrated service that combines architecture, interior design, and construction into a streamlined process managed by an elite team of experienced and skilled professionals. Our team collaborates closely with clients to ensure every project is tailor-made for their unique preferences and requirements.
We work with the finest and most innovative furniture makers and a comprehensive list of resources from around the world so you can get the dream home you’ve always envisioned.