Friday, August 10, 2012

Hiring a Interior Designer? What do we do? What questions to ask?

Fall's coming...Do you know what that means???  Interior designers busy season.  This is the time when everyone wants things done for the Holiday's. Since items have an average lead time of 6-12 weeks Interior Designers get the opportunity to meet new prospects "NOW".

One question that I'm commonly asked is, "How do you work?" "What is the process?"  Of course I answer the questions from a designer's perspective.  However, I haven't really thought about it from a consumers point of view and maybe I need to be better at answering this question.  So I decided to blog it and hopefully help you (and I)...

The first thing to ask a designer in the initial call is "How do you charge?"  The three most common ways are a flat rate, per square footage and hourly rate.  There are so many variations of how designers charge and in many cases designers offer all of the above.  Flat rate is the actual design for the entire job. There is usually certain criterion's with a flat rate such as how many floor plans/changes your entitled to?  Per square footage is a certain dollar amount per square foot of the entire space being designed and hourly is an hourly rate throughout the duration of the entire job. If it's hourly ask "What is your hourly rate?" "Do you have a minimum?" "Do you pass on your trade discounts?" "If so at what percentage?"  Many designers have a minimum budget they need to work with since they have overhead and only can take on so many projects per year. Some hourly rates are higher than others but offer a greater trade discount.  Finally always look at their background (are you in a State that requires a license from a designer, is the design firm insured, did they study interior design?) .  If you want to find out what designers charge prior to calling look at these resources and search for their name, many times it's listed for you ( and  

What is the process?  It really depends on what type of job and how large the job is (commercial versus residential).  These are the basic steps that usually take place.  The initial meeting with the client and the space being designed. Several questions will be asked to get a sense of the client and their taste (contemporary, traditional or eclectic).  Many times clients have tear sheets of what they like.  Some have no idea where to start and need the designer to develop the concept.  Then the space is surveyed (measured precisely) and placed in a software program (AutoCAD or Revit).  Once this is accomplished, we can begin the next steps whether it be demolition plans, new construction plans, lighting plan or space planning.  Many times clients have a hard time visualizing the results. Therefore, we convert the 2D floor plan into a 3D plan so the client can see what the space will look like.  Finally we put together a concept board and materials board of the actual furniture we would like to use and the color palette with the materials/fabrics. Once the client approves, the items are purchased and we follow up until the items arrive.  Then it's project management time which means we check each item prior to signing off to ensure there is no damage, make sure each item is placed in the appropriate spot and ensure no damage is done to the floors or walls during the installment.  Once everything is installed we develop a punch list of any items missed or things that need to be tweaked.  Finally..your completed space!

Hopefully this helps those of you who are searching for a designer.  If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.

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