Hiring an interior designer for your home, office, or commercial space is one of the best investments you can make to achieve your design goals. A professional designer can help you put your vision to work and turn it into reality. So, wondering how to choose an interior designer?
However, with the perpetual list of interior designers on the market right now, choosing the best person for the job can be rather challenging. Every designer has a different sense of style and taste when it comes to revamping an interior space.
In this in-depth guide, you will learn the major roles of interior designers, the benefits of working with one, and how interior design contracts work, along with other necessary things you ought to know. Further, at the end of this article, you will be able to learn how to choose the right designer for you.
The Role of An Interior Designer
Here are the major roles and responsibilities of every professional interior designer.
1. Outlines the Client’s Design Goals and Objectives
One of the first things professional designers do when working with a client is to have an initial meeting to discuss the client’s interior objectives and vision. The designer helps their client outline and simplify their design goals clearly and concisely. It is also the responsibility of interior designers to help clients come up with interior goals by laying out different design options if they are indecisive and feeling overwhelmed with the options.
2. Conceptualizes and Creates Drawings of Design Plans
One of the key roles of an interior designer is to create a visual representation of the agreed design plan through drawings. In addition, most certified interior designers these days create 3D representations of their design plans through the use of cutting-edge computer technology.
Drawings or computerized visual representations of the design layout allow the client to get a preliminary look at how their space is going to look after the project is completed. As a result, they can make adjustments and changes ahead of time if they wish to.
3. Determines the Necessary Costs and Develops a Budget Plan
Another key responsibility of interior designers is project costing. For this reason, designers need to have a wide knowledge of the market. They must also keep up with the current costs of materials and furnishings, so they can give a close estimate of how much money is needed for the entire project.
4. Sources Materials and Products from Vendors
Interior designers are responsible for sourcing the necessary materials and furnishings from vendors stated in the interior design project contract. Thus, most designers have access to a wide network of merchandisers and tradespeople who can offer interior materials at a good price. Interior designers’ access to merchandisers allows them to help their clients save money when purchasing interior furnishings, especially customized pieces.
5. Communicates and Collaborates with Third-Party Contractors
Interior design involves several other tasks that are out of the designer’s responsibility such as renovation, construction, plumbing, lighting, and such. Thus, designers partner with third-party contractors who are skilled and equipped for the job at hand. Moreover, it is the interior designer’s job to keep tabs on the third-party contractors’ jobs and provide the necessary instructions to them.
6. Ensures the Project is Done According to the Design Plan
Given that the interior designer has to work with third-party contractors for certain jobs, it is the designer’s responsibility to ensure that each job is done seamlessly and adheres to the design plan.
7. Provide Updates to the Client
Designer and client communication is pivotal to the success of every interior design project. It is the designer’s job to keep the client updated on the project’s progress or well aware of the issues if there are any.
8. Address the Client’s Questions or Concerns
The interior designer must be able to provide the client with concrete answers to any question they might have at any point in the project. Further, the designer must also address any concern and provide the appropriate solution to any issue the client may have relevant to the interior design project.
The Difference Between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator
While the job of both an interior designer vs interior decorator is similar to some extent, their roles and responsibilities are quite different.
Interior designers create practical interior spaces by understanding people’s behavior, style, and preferences. Designers revamp interior areas within a building to create functional spaces.
Interior decorators, on the other hand, adorn and furnish interior spaces with decors and ornate influences to achieve a specific style of aesthetic.
Interior designers can also decorate interior spaces, but interior decorators can not design or do the other key roles of the designers.
Benefits of Working With an Interior Designer
Not sure about paying for a professional’s help? The following benefits of hiring an interior designer might change your mind.
1. An interior designer will help you come up with the best design style.
With the endless options of design themes and styles available across the web, you can easily feel overwhelmed and not know which ones to choose for your space. This is where an interior designer’s help comes in handy.
Professional designers can help you determine the best design style that suits your home and your personal taste. Additionally, interior designers know how to make your home look and feel aesthetically pleasing and ensure functionality.
2. You get access to a network of trusted contractors and consultants.
As mentioned, when working with interior design projects, designers will have to collaborate with third-party contractors such as builders to carry out certain jobs. Interior designers have access to a wide network of reputable contractors that are well-knowledgeable and well-equipped for their line of work. Therefore, by hiring a certified interior designer, you get the assurance that the entire project is done seamlessly.
3. Interior designers know how to plan and budget efficiently.
Interior design projects can be very costly especially if you are having a medium to large-scale one. You can easily go over the set budget when you are doing everything on your own. However, an interior designer can help you plan and budget your design project efficiently without compromising quality.
In addition, professional designers have affiliations with merchandisers of materials and furnishings. In other words, they can get interior materials at discounted prices, thus, you save more money.
4. Revamp your space without the stress.
Interior renovation and design can be very time-consuming and stressful as there are multiple works involved. A certified interior designer can take away the burden from you and handle everything on their own. A designer takes care of the planning, budgeting, and deploying of the design blueprint, along with other tedious tasks.
5. An interior designer can help you create an energy-efficient space.
An interior designer knows how to spruce up interior spaces and make them more functional and efficient. Creating a sustainable and energy-efficient space can be a challenging task to do on your own. However, interior designers have the skills and knowledge of converting an interior space into a sustainable environment by utilizing specific kinds of windows, paint colors, tiles, lighting fixtures, and so on.
6. You avoid making costly mistakes.
Making mistakes when it comes to interior design projects can be expensive. Thus, hiring a professional designer who has adequate skills and knowledge in terms of decision-making and managing design projects is a great investment.
Identifying Your Interior Design Needs and Goals
Here are a few ways to identify your design requirements and objectives (Followed by how to choose an interior designer).
1. Search the web for design inspiration.
You can find a wide variety of interior design photos on the web specifically on Pinterest, Instagram, and interior design blogs. You can collect design sample photos from the internet, print them out, and carefully evaluate and select ones that suit your taste.
2. Know your style and requirements.
One of the most effective ways to come up with the best interior style for your space is to identify your home decorating style, preferences, and requirements. Doing so allows you to not only achieve your desired interior aesthetics but also create a practical and functional living space.
3. Select a complementary color palette.
Color scheme plays a major role in the overall appearance of interior spaces. Therefore, when selecting a color palette to implement, you must choose the one that best complements your home or commercial space’s style. Popular color schemes nowadays include monochromes, neutrals, pastels, and contrasting colors.
4. Ask your interior designer for suggestions.
Given the endless interior design possibilities, you can easily feel lost and not know what you want for your space. In this case, seeking the advice of your interior designer comes in handy. Interior design professionals can easily determine the right design style and color palette that best suits your home style and requirements.
5. Determine your budget.
Your budget plays a huge influence on the entire interior design project at hand. A professional interior designer can help you come up with an exceptional design layout that fits your budget.
Different Types of Interior Designers
There are various types of interior design jobs available to date. However, below are the two main types of interior designers on the market. This study will help you to solve how to choose an interior designer mystery.
1. Residential Interior Designer
This type of interior designer specializes in designing the interiors of residential spaces. They work closely with homeowners who want to revamp a certain room or their entire home.
2. Commercial Interior Designer
Commercial interior designers work the same as residential designers but on a much larger scale. These designers specialize in designing and transforming corporate spaces to create a more sustainable and functional business environment.
5 Questions to Ask When Hiring an Interior Designer
Finding the right interior designer can be challenging. With plenty of interior designers on the market claiming they’re the best, you can’t just put your faith in someone without scrutinizing their background first.
It’s for this reason that it’s necessary to ask several questions before you decide to settle on a particular interior designer. To make that easier, here are specific questions you’d want to ask an interior designer before you proceed to hire them:
1. Are you open to client involvement throughout the duration of the project?
Interior designers have their own preferences. Some would prefer involving their clients during the project while others would rather take full creative control whenever possible.
This is why this question is important – it gives you an idea of what you can expect once you start working with a particular designer.
There are interior designers who freely welcome input from their clients, though this can backfire later on when their clients have some doubts about the process. This can only lead to complications down the road.
Clients who tend to doubt the decisions that their hired designer makes will eventually lead to delays. For the most part, these delays will only lead to unexpected costs, or worse, can completely hinder the designer’s creative output.
So as a client, you should know how you like to work with your preferred designer and learn how much involvement you can have from the start.
2. How much will you charge me?
This might look like a simple question, but it’s an essential one that you should never overlook before you start working with an interior designer. As a matter of fact, questions regarding costs and budget should be part of your conversation from the get-go.
After all, you can’t just start an interior design project for your property only to find later on that you’re short on budget.
Luckily, most interior designers these days are open to discussing any matters involving costs and budget. They will even provide estimates and some might even include their answers on their client questionnaires.
That said, each interior designer’s services cost differently. If they find that your budget is within their price range, they will then proceed to conduct a site visit to take a look at your space and outline how they will start and complete the project.
On the other hand, if you are on a smaller budget, they will mostly recommend you to other local designers that would match your current budget.
3. How do you choose the people that will work on my project?
Another important question you shouldn’t forget to ask your interior designer is who will be working on your project and how they will choose them.
Depending on the designer you chose, they might be the only ones to work on the project or they might have a design team for that. If a designer is part of a team, it’s best to do a background check on the members of the team.
You have to make sure that everyone knows your preferred design and communication style. This way, you can ensure that the project will go smoothly from start to finish.
4. What mistake did you make while working on a project, and how were you able to take care of it?
Mistakes can sometimes be inevitable during an interior design project. However, you have to make sure that you can avoid costly mistakes when you work with a certain interior designer.
To do that, you’d want to ask your interior designer about any mistakes they’ve made during their previous projects and how they’re able to solve them. This will give you an insight into their previous works, what issues they’ve faced, and how they’re able to mitigate them.
This will also give you an idea of what preventative measures your interior designer has used and will use for your project.
5. How did you respond to a client who was unsatisfied with your work?
An interior designer’s job is to use their expertise and skills to create pleasant and welcoming interiors based on their clients’ needs. In some cases, however, some clients might be completely unsatisfied with the output.
By asking this question, you can learn more about how your preferred designer handles constructive criticism, and will even give you an idea of their communication and customer service skills. Essentially, you’d want a designer who can place their clients’ wishes over their ideas.
Interior Designer Fees and Pricing Structures
Interior design fee structures vary depending on the interior designer you plan to work with. Most will charge you an hourly rate which will vary based on your location, averaging at around $50 to $500. In most cases, you’ll end up paying roughly $100 to $200 per hour.
Since an interior design project will take several hours to complete, this would set you back a few thousand dollars upon completion. So if you want to save money for an interior design project, you need to understand the various levels of service that a designer can offer you.
As far as total project costs go, interior designers have their own methods of calculating the total costs. Let’s have a look at the two most commonly used methods that interior designers will charge you:
As mentioned, most designers will charge you by the hour. This is common among independent interior designers as well as those who are part of a small company. However, you have to keep in mind that hourly fees aren’t exclusive to the duration of the project alone.
When an interior designer charges you an hourly fee, it also includes the time they spent for site visits, travel, and correspondence. On average, you’ll end up paying around $100 to $200 per hour (this can go up or down based on their experience).
For example, if you’re working with a small team composed of junior and senior-level designers, junior designers might charge you $50 per hour while the senior ones will charge you around $100 or even higher.
You should also keep in mind that the hourly rate only covers design services. It doesn’t include the expenses necessary for buying materials and furniture.
This is the least common method used by interior designers and is only used by larger companies. In most cases, companies will charge you a flat rate per room which is calculated by its total size. If furniture purchases are included, it will set you back around $2,000 to $12,000 on average. Excluding that, you’ll end up paying anywhere from $500 to $1,500 per room.
In terms of flat rates, you should know what’s included and what’s not. Also, this is only recommended for projects that don’t need a lot of customization and coordination.
Needless to say, if you want to learn how to save money on interior design, you need to know what options you have and decide which of these options works best for your project.
Understanding the Interior Designer’s Process for Revisions and Changes to the Design Plan
Changes and revisions to the design plan are normal for any interior design project. This is where the so-called “phases of design” concept enters the picture. In other words, the initial design plan will undergo several changes and revisions to ensure that a great design idea will translate into a complete product.
In case you’re wondering, these phases of an interior design project are categorized into the following:
- Programming – This involves coming up with a defined goal. Interior designers will obtain as much information as they need to learn what your vision and preferred outcome are. They will ask questions and conduct site visits to have a clear idea of your goals.
- Schematic Design – In this phase, your interior designer will use the information they gathered in the previous phase to create initial design concepts and layouts. This is also the part where they’ll define your vision, budget, and scope of the project.
- Design Development – Next is design development, where the floor plan is further developed. This time, it will come with initial layouts for areas like the kitchen, bathroom, etc.
- Construction Documentation – This phase is where your interior designer will create the documents required to obtain bids from various contractors. At this point, the floor plans are already completed, and you will then have to review every detail in accordance with the scope of the project.
- Construction Administration – Finally, this is where the construction part takes place. It involves bidding, procurement, permitting, construction, and installation. At this point, all you have to do is wait for the project to finish.
Interior Design Contracts – What You Should Know and Look For
Regardless of how big your project is, you have to make sure that you have the Letter of Engagement, otherwise known as the Design Contract. This is a very important document that will outline the details of your project, the costs involved, and what services are included.
This will ensure that you and your chosen interior designer know what your legal obligations and rights are in the event that things might go haywire during the project.
So regardless if it’s your first time working with an interior designer or not, you have to know what to consider before signing an interior design agreement.
Basically, you need to learn the following key elements. These are in a design agreement of how to choose an interior designer:
- Design Process Outline – This includes the factors that are involved in an interior design project such as time frames, design states, and how much creative control you have throughout the project.
- Scope of Works – This is where your designer will outline the items that will be included in the design. Since no two projects are similar, it’s important that all details, no matter how big or small, are documented.
- Deliverables – This part will give you an idea of what you’ll get from your designer. This means sketches, floor plans, 3D renders, samples, and physical models. It can be difficult to visualize this stuff, so it really helps that you fully understand what you will receive.
- Fee Structure – The total cost of an interior design project should also be reflected in any agreement. If things like fees and charges are not properly outlined in the first place, it can lead to further complications throughout the project.
- Legalities – This is another crucial aspect of a design agreement. After all, interior designers are legally obliged to provide a functional interior design that complies with all local building codes. However, the agreement should also outline things like copyright, reimbursements, payment terms, termination, etc.
Qualities of a Good Interior Designer
We’ve talked about the basics of hiring a good interior designer, so it’s time to talk about what you can expect when working with an interior designer . To be fair, not all interior designers are the same. While some can transform your dull space into something more exciting, others might not be up to the task.
This is why it’s also important to learn the qualities of a good interior designer before you commit to hiring one.
These are as follows for how to choose an interior designer:
1. Good Communication Skills
One of the most important qualities that you should look for in an interior designer is good communication skills. This is particularly important as it allows a designer to manage expectations and cultivate successful relationships with his clients.
In a way, this lets them communicate their vision to you without any major complications.
Aside from that, an interior designer collaborates with various architects and contractors to ensure the success of any interior design project. He should also be able to convey your ideas and vision to other people who are part of the project as well.
After all, if your chosen interior designer doesn’t possess solid communication skills, how can you expect him to come up with a successful project?
2. Open-mindedness to Various Styles
One of the red flags you shouldn’t ignore when appointing an interior designer is working with one who’s close-minded when it comes to certain visions and ideas. The last thing you want is for an interior designer to proceed with the project without asking for any sort of input from you.
While there are some interior designers who prefer full control of the project, a lot of them still manage to keep an open mind to various styles and ideas that you might propose. For the most part, they’re even willing to blend your design ideas with their own ideas in order to come up with a successful design.
A trait that’s often overlooked, resourcefulness is something that an interior designer must possess at all times. Having a ton of resources available at all times allows any interior designer to figure out any hurdles and overcome them whenever needed.
Aside from that, being resourceful can also lead to excellent designs which can translate to a successful interior design project.
4. Good Management Skills
Lastly, a good interior designer should also possess good management skills. An interior designer usually handles several clients and projects at the same time, and this is where management skills come into play.
A good interior designer should be able to meet each of their client’s demands and expectations. At the same time, they should also be able to meet deadlines and provide high-quality results.
Where to Find Interior Designers
Now comes the next important step: figuring out how to look for interior designers online.
Whether you’re planning to renovate a single room or revamp the entire interior of your house, you will need a capable interior designer to do it for you. While it’s possible to do a DIY project, it can be quite a major undertaking without the help of a professional.
Since interior design is a major process, you need to choose the right person for the job. But the question is, where exactly can you find one?
Where to Start Looking
Word of mouth is one of your best options if you’re looking for a capable interior designer within your area. If you have friends or family members who have worked with an interior designer before, you can ask for their recommendations to see if the professional they worked with is worth hiring or not.
Another option is social media such as Facebook and Instagram. There, you can find pages and profiles of local interior designers which also grant you the opportunity to check their backgrounds and portfolio. In some cases, you can even look at reviews from their customers so you can gauge the quality of their services. You can also head over to online directories like Interior Collab and Houzz.
Lastly, you can use Google to search for interior designers near your area. Just write how to choose an interior designer on the search bar. This will allow you to check their websites as well as their portfolio. It also lets you learn more about them before you even decide to pick one to hire.
How to Avoid and Resolve Interior Design Disputes
Interior design disputes can sometimes be inevitable. Even if your interior designer has successfully completed your project, you might still end up in a dispute with them. If not taken care of properly, such disputes can escalate quickly and will eventually lead to costly legal issues.
So it goes without saying that you should avoid disputes as much as possible. But in the unfortunate event that you get caught in a dispute with your interior designer, here is what you can do:
Check the Client Agreement
The client agreement is a document that your interior designer will forward to you before you agree to work with each other. It will outline all of the details involved in the project, their terms and condition, payment details, as well as information regarding intellectual property and liability.
If you get caught in a dispute with your interior designer, the first thing you should do is check the client agreement and read it thoroughly. As much as possible, look for a clause that provides information regarding how to deal with disputes should one arise.
Ideally, you want to look for an alternative dispute resolution which can be in the form of conciliation or mediation. Also, look for a provision that details how a dispute should be handled between both parties.
But what happens if there’s no procedure outlined in the client agreement? You need to know for how to choose an interior designer.
In that case, both parties should conduct their own alternate dispute resolution. This is by far a more ideal option since it will involve fewer expenses compared to filing a legal action. It will also help maintain your relationship with your chosen interior designer.
Understanding the Consumer Law
Depending on where you’re from, the consumer law in your area might differ from the consumer law of other states/countries. However, since interior designers mainly fall under the Consumer Law of any given place, they will be required to uphold certain standards when delivering their services.
So depending on the severity of the dispute, you might end up getting a statutory remedy. In this case, we highly recommend speaking with your designer to voice out any issues and concerns you might have. At the same time, you should also listen to their response.
This way, you can avoid some of the most common problems homeowners face when hiring an interior designer .
How Your Designer Will Resolve Common Client Disputes
In the same vein, it’s also important to learn how your interior designer commonly resolves any client dispute that they receive. This will give you an idea of how things work on their end, and you can even use this information when trying to resolve a dispute with your designer. This is an important rule for how to choose an interior designer.
These are as follows:
Limit a Client’s Options
Interior designers face various types of clients on a regular basis. As such, it’s quite inevitable when they come across a difficult client to work with. Understandably, a client who changes his mind every few days can be frustrating.
As such, one of the methods they use to deal with such difficult clients is to limit their options. In some cases, clients experience this so-called design choice fatigue with the many options available at their disposal.
To deal with this, interior designers will often limit the options to a maximum of three. This way, even if a client ends up choosing a combination of any of the three, it won’t be that overwhelming.
Write Down Boundaries that a Client Breaks
The act of establishing boundaries might sound like a simple task, but it’s actually quite hard to implement. The problem is, if an interior designer won’t set boundaries, their clients might think it’s okay to break the rules.
One of the ways they deal with this is to manage expectations by writing them down in the contract and other important documents. This allows them to refer back to such information whenever things go haywire. As long as boundaries are properly implemented, interior designers won’t have to create them later.
Read the Room
Now, how to choose an interior designer or begin to look? Read the room first! Designing a room for any given client is an opportunity for interior designers to showcase their skills and impart their vision and design into a given space. However, some problems can be inevitable throughout the project. For example, if their clients start adding personal drama into the mix.
However, this can also be a chance for the designers to read the room and gain insights on how to come up with a drama-free home. They won’t even try to fix the issue; instead, they will ask their clients some questions and collect data that they can use to help with the project.
If the issue involves money, they might even recommend affordable fabrics and fixtures. If it involves clients with different preferences, designers will try to balance two aesthetics and combine them into one. They will even pay attention to who will have the final say. This way, they can further understand their clients’ needs better.
This should wrap up the interior design tips and everything you need to know about hiring an interior designer, what are the benefits of doing so, the legal contracts involved, and more. At this point, it should be a lot easier for you to find the right professional who can take on your project. Now you know how to choose an interior designer.