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Questions to Ask an Interior Designer

Last week, I provided insights into "How to choose an interior designer?" However, I didn't thoroughly delve into the aspects of which questions to ask an interior designer. Allow me to explore this topic more comprehensively here.

The process of selecting a professional to collaborate with over an extended period can sometimes resemble the search for a romantic relationship.

Questions like "Is he/she the right fit for me? Do we share the same long-term goals? What if it doesn't work out?" may cross your mind.

So here are some opening questions to ask when meeting with an interior designer:

What types of projects are best for your design studio?

By asking this question, you aim to define specific criteria for selection. Not every project aligns with every design business. (Just like in relationships, don't you think?) Even if the designer lacks extensive experience, they should be capable of pinpointing their "specialty." Whether it pertains to a specific design style or their compatibility with a client's personality, the designer needs to articulate for whom their services are most suitable.

What is your design process like?

Interior design doesn't happen magically! While it entails a creative touch, a systematic process is indispensable. It's crucial to grasp how the designer gathers information about you and your preferences, how they coordinate with external contractors if needed, and whether they maintain communication – or even collaboration – throughout the project's development. We've established a 16-step "experience" that we share with our clients in our initial meeting; it serves as our roadmap for every project!

Can you meet my budget?

Ensuring clarity regarding finances right from the beginning of our collaboration is pivotal in establishing a strong relationship. It's essential to avoid any unexpected financial surprises midway through the project. Therefore, transparency about the budget you've allocated is crucial. Don't minimize your figures by stating you have $200,000 when you're actually prepared to spend up to $215,000. You should feel comfortable sharing these details with the designer, making it clear that while your preferred budget is $200,000, you are open to extending it to $215,000 if it makes sense and if you have confidence that the designer will use this additional amount judiciously.

How do you set your rates?

This question should align with the broader discussion about the budget. Were you aware that there isn't a one-size-fits-all pricing approach in the field of interior design? Indeed, methods vary widely. Some designers bill by the hour, others by the square foot, and some apply a markup on furniture. Understanding how your expenses are distributed and the value you receive at each stage of the process is crucial.

It took my company considerable time and several years of data analysis to truly define our pricing structure. Despite interior design being a luxury service, our aim is to act as responsible financial stewards for our clients, providing them with a substantial return on investment while ensuring the sustainability of our business. At the project's conclusion, it is paramount that all parties feel they have been treated equitably and with respect.

What are the client's responsibilities throughout the process?

Certainly, you have responsibilities to uphold throughout the project. At the very least, your dedication to offering candid feedback and timely responses is vital. Some designers adopt an extremely collaborative method, involving you in every phase, possibly seeking your pre-approval for elements before their integration into the design. On the other hand, certain designers prefer the liberty to explore options and unveil final selections all at once. Typically, we strike a balance between these approaches, tailored to the client's preferences. Nonetheless, we emphasize the importance of clients making decisions within a specified timeframe to prevent project delays.

Here are some other points to bring up during your discussions:

  1. How many projects are you working on simultaneously?

  2. What is your estimate of the duration of my project, and does your availability meet our needs?

  3. How do you handle problems that arise during the project, like damaged furniture or receiving the wrong part?

  4. Do you track price changes, refunds, etc.? And if so, what is your method?

  5. Could you provide me with a customer reference?


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