Have you ever had someone gush about a piece of art, furnishing or room décor and agreed with them simply because you felt they probably know more about “that stuff” than you?
Working with someone who you don’t feel at ease with is bound to quickly douse any creative inkling you may have felt. It's daunting enough tackling a home remodel – never mind putting some of your major design decisions in the hands of someone you've just met for the first time.
So how do you know an Interior Designer is going to be the right fit for you?
Well, there's good news: Interior Designers are people just like you, and interior design doesn't have to be that daunting . With the right Designer in your corner, it is possible to have a fun and exciting remodeling experience.
First things first
If at this point you are still unclear as to what an Interior Designer does, or if you need one, then you may want to have a read of this article by Lisa Frederick, published on Houzz a few years ago but still holds very true.
It is hugely important to have a face-to-face meeting with a potential Interior Designer before making any hiring decisions or investing time providing details of the project. Emails and telephone calls are great inventions, but shouldn’t take the place of a physical meetup.
Here are my top 7 suggested qualities to consider and look for when choosing or working with an Interior Designer...
1. Compatible Personality
Designers are human too (really, it’s true). If you met someone socially or at a work event and you found them to be a little too obnoxious for your liking, or had very few common interests, or you simply found them somewhat boring (lets be real…it happens), you are likely to find a way to make an exit from that conversation and steer clear for the rest of the evening. Nothing wrong with them – just no real personality connection going on.
It’s the same deal when meeting a Designer… if you simply don’t “get on” at a fundamental level, then it’s best for everyone to walk away. The first face-to-face meeting is a bit like a blind date or a work interview (depending on how you look at things)…. And the designer will be sussing you out just as much as you are him/her.
2. Good Communication
“She gets me!” This is a statement one of my clients made during our first meeting after talking a bit about what she had planned and styles she had in mind. Ironically, that was after I had challenged her quite a bit on her declared style-type as it didn’t marry up with some of the pictures and ideas she was sharing with me.
It’s hard to communicate ideas that are wrapped up in how things make you feel – which is exactly what color, lighting, and layout do. If you get a sense that someone understands what you’re talking about without having to draw a detailed schematic and act out every little idea, then you’re in a good place. If they can echo back additional/enhanced ideas that sound exciting to you, then you’re in a better place. If they can describe an idea which you visualize as ‘ideal’ then you are set!!
By nature, a remodel is a stressful affair – it disrupts your daily life; it makes a mess; it brings with it an untold number of quick (and often big) decisions; it is financially upsetting; and things do go wrong. It’s not unusual for someone who is the go-to person within social circles when it comes to creative interior ideas/opinions, to suddenly feel like they’ve drawn a complete blank when it comes to their own home.
You need someone whose opinion you trust, and whom you can rely on to get things done in your best interest. It’s like having a new BFF to lean on. Trust is key.
Did I mention that Interior Designers are human too? It’s much easier to trust someone if you feel that they actually care about your project. I’ve had the displeasure of meeting a couple of Designers who decided what design their clients should have, despite the clients' needs, simply because it satisfied their needs and timeline – it was just a job. If you feel like this is the case, run.
5. Demonstrates knowledge
Interior Design is not an exact science, but you shouldn’t feel like your Designer is making things up as they go along. A good Designer will be able to demonstrate what they mean, either by showing you examples, or performing an impromptu “experiment”, or indeed simply expanding on the point in question.
That said, don’t feel like they should have all the answers immediately – often a Designer will need to research things and check back with you – but they shouldn’t make it up, just to look good.
20There’s nothing worse than talking to someone at length and then they ask you questions that you’ve already just answered. I hate not being listened to – I would rather someone told me I waswrong than blatantly ignore some of what I said. YOU have a say in your project and YOU are the client and YOU have to live with the results.
Once you are working together your designer may often dissuade you from certain things and put his/her foot down with regards to some decisions, ultimately steering you in a direction they feel will result in a better outcome, but you should be comfortable that all this will be done with you in mind and taking what you’re saying into consideration.
Last, but certainly not least, remodel projects are notorious for unveiling a whole host of problems once demolition and implementation begin. You need a Designer who can think on his/her feet and come up with workable alternatives if an element of the design is impacted by the reveal of a “house horror”.
Now you’re armed with things to look for when you meet a potential Interior Designer! I promise, if you find a Designer that is a good fit for you, your next remodel (yes, you may even consider going through it all again if you have the right support) or interior design project won't feel quite as daunting.