When it comes to making your home perfect, the inside is just as important as the outside, especially since the inside is where you’re going to be spending most of your time. Of course, it can also be time-consuming and expensive to get your home to look the way you envision it. Interior designers can help you get it right the first time and avoid wasting time and money. But how can you be sure you’re hiring someone who isn’t thinking of ways to try and make your house look as tacky as possible? Or even worse: already plotting where a zebra skin rug could go on the floor (gasp!)?
That’s where we come in. We’ve created a list below of eight crucial questions to ask a potential interior designer in order to filter the good work from the bad, or even ugly. May you never hire someone who thinks that vertical bright yellow and red wall stripes makes a room “fun”.
If they have a portfolio, that’s a promising sign since it means they have taken the time to highlight past work. This is also a good check to know if they have a signature style, what they’re proud of, and if they have done design or decorating similar to your vision and taste for your home. Avoid people who aren’t willing or don’t provide past work they’ve done. This could be a sign they aren’t confident in their own work, are hiding other parts of their work, or have had poor results in the past.
If they claim to “specialize in everything” that’s a red flag. When it comes to design, people are often more skilled in one particular style above all others, and it’s better to hire someone who has that nailed down. You want someone who can pull off your vision in a unique way. Often, people will also enjoy working with one style over another, and hiring someone as excited as you to achieve your similar style can be an especially rewarding and fruitful experience.
This all being said, just because someone hasn’t done a lot of work in one area isn’t an immediate reason to assume they won’t be able to achieve what you have in mind for your home. So be cautious, but not too quick to judge.
No one likes getting surprised by expenses, not least of all when you’re working with a budget. Knowing what else might be down the road in terms of expenses is always beneficial. Go through your quote and check for “estimates” versus actual expenses. Oftentimes, the fees for consultation will be flat rates, whereas furniture and material costs will vary. It’s important to probe your potential hire to see exactly how much these could vary in order to nail down exactly how much you could be out by the end of your project.
If the answer is a resounding yes, it’s highly likely they’ll be able to pull off what you want to achieve with your home design. However, if the answer is no, then see if they have a comparable piece (or pieces) of past work that could be worked into your vision—maybe a particular room, colour scheme, or style. It’s also a good question to open up a dialogue about what they could apply from other work to execute your vision.
Although it seems like this is a question ripped straight from a job interview… actually scratch that, it totally is. Nonetheless, it’s a great question to get some of the nitty-gritty on your prospective interior designer. Their answer will tell you how they respond to dealing with crises that arise. They will also tell you what they’ve learned to avoid making the same mistake again and will likely take preventative measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
This one is particularly important to ask if you’re on a tight timeline. It can also just be good to know how long each step of the process will take so you have an idea of when things should be completed by. Another benefit of this is to evaluate if your interior designer is completing things by the timeline they estimated. If you’re way off track it can be good to sit down with them to see where it went wrong and what can be done to put you back on track.
Already on a tight budget? Depending on how extensive your interior decorating plans are, this could be an option to work with your interior designer on. As long as your aesthetic works with your furniture, most interior designers won’t have a problem with this. Well, unless you have a hideous furniture from the ‘70s with fabric that looks like someone’s first art project. Those things have to go.
With any project, it’s important to be able to communicate easily and openly. It’s also good to know how they plan to share their designs and ideas with you. It’s also just as important for the designer to know how you plan to share your ideas and plan with them so they have a clear idea of the style you’re going for and what key items you’ll want to tie your rooms together.
These key questions should help equip you to screen for the proper interior designer. Of course, if you’re in need of redesigning your windows or are in need custom screens, we might know a company that starts with “Phantom” and ends with “Screens Okanagan”. Just saying.