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10 Must-Ask Questions for Interior Designers

The process of hiring an interior designer can feel like dating. Is it the right match? Are you on the same page? How do you know if your visions align? All of these are common things to ask yourself before putting down a deposit—and taking a bet—on someone who might very well become a friend for life. But if you’ve never gone through the process of using an interior designer before, and you feel unsure, consider flipping the script and interview them. Don't be shy. Now's the time to figure out what this partnership is actually going to look like. We’ve taken note of some of the best, and most common, questions we’ve been asked, so now we’re sharing with you the top 10 questions you should ask an interior designer before you hire them.

1. What interior design services do you offer?

Not all interior designers offer the same service package. Know what you’ll be getting. Here are a few of the services that an interior designer might offer:

- Design consultation - Site measurement and assessment - Space planning - Design concepts - Sourcing, purchasing or procurement - Project management - Interior styling - Handyman works

2. Can I see your portfolio? If you haven’t already stalked your designer’s Instagram, Facebook and website endlessly, ask them to show you through some of their projects. That way, they can highlight to you their experience and visually back-up or explain different ideas and creative solutions they have when it comes to creating not just a Pinterest-worthy space, but a functional and practical one too!

3. Do you have a signature design style? It can be helpful to hear from the designer themselves what they think they are best at. We all use a few words to describe a multitude of styles, so now it’s key to understand what the professionals are doing conceptually and your designer’s signature style should be something you are comfortable with, and something that aligns with the look you’re going for.

4. What do you find most challenging about designing a home? Asking a tougher question like this could help with setting your own expectations and perhaps avoiding any communication snags along the way. It’s beneficial to know the firm’s strengths and weaknesses before signing any contracts so you can assess whether they are a good fit for your scope, budget, timeline and style.

5. What are the some uncontrollable hiccups or bumps along the road that we might expect? Again, it’s good to get everyone’s expectations on the same page from the get-go. Every project will be different, every space will present it’s own unforeseen problems, and it’s not the designer’s fault, but it is their responsibility to find speedy solutions. Especially if this is your first time engaging an interior designer or stylist, let them be educate you on some sticky situations you might come across the process so that you can make a more educated decision on whether you want to go ahead with all the ideas they are proposing.

6. Will my budget be enough? This goes without saying. You might have one number in mind, but it doesn’t always mean everything can be done at the level of quality you are after. The designer should ask what your budget is and do their best to stay within that range, but it might also be a good idea to stay open-minded to their suggestion if need be.

7. How do you charge? Similarly to how different designers will offer different services, every firm will also have their own terms and conditions. It’s good to get clear on what sort of payment installations or increments are available, especially if you’re forking out good money for a big renovation project!

8. Do you welcome client involvement or do you prefer clients to be hands-off? Some designers prefer consulting with a client every step of the process, whereas others prefer full creative control—so you want to know ahead of time what to expect. As a client, you should know how you like to work and how much involvement you expect from the start. Clients who have trouble making decisions or are unwilling to trust and commit to the decisions they have hired the designer to make, will ultimately cause costly delays and will hinder the designer creatively.

9. How do you decide which projects are a good fit for you and your firm? It's a little like an employer asking a potential hire why they think the job is right for them; by understanding how a designer evaluates your project, you'll learn a lot—and see if his or her priorities line up with yours. The most important factor is whether or not it is a good personality fit. Projects go on for months and, in some cases, years, so you want to ensure that the partnership is respectful and enjoyable for both parties.

10. How long will this project take? You might have a totally different time-frame in mind, and like every partnership, you want to set the expectations at the beginning so that no future tensions arise unnecessarily. Hear what your designer has in mind about timing, and see if that works with your schedule. If it’s a full renovation you might need to start planning to find temporary accommodation, or if it’s styling work, you just need to plan your work schedule, kids routines, etc., if you’re needed at home more regularly.

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