Does your home need a little updating? It could be time to think about using an interior designer.
Many people are put off using a designer because of the cost, but if you end up with a result that you love and couldn’t have achieved yourself, it can be a good investment and even add value to your home.
A good interior designer should also be happy to stick to a pre-determined budget, and to tell you at the start if they don’t consider it practical. Some designers will even consider a low budget a challenge!
Whatever level you start at, you’ll be investing several hundred pounds at least, so it’s well worth putting some time into thinking what you want beforehand.
Here are our top tips for how to choose the perfect interior designer for you and your home.
Before you start
- How much do you want to be involved? Will you be asking the designer to run every detail past you, or are you happy to give them a brief and some general guidelines then leave them to it? Will you be asking them to source anything, or will you do that yourself?
- Do you need a full design service, or just a little advice about colours and resources?
- How quickly do you need to see results?
- What is your budget, and what are you prepared to compromise on?
- Do you have any ideas of your own? If so, prepare them in as much detail as possible with fabric swatches, photographs and paint colours to bring them to life.
- Who will manage the project – you, the designer or a third party?
- Who is the space being designed for (i.e. you, the whole family, a child), and what will it be used for?
- Are there existing features you’d like to hide or highlight, or would otherwise like incorporating into the finished look?
- Are you interested in environmentally friendly options?
- What’s your personal style? For example, do you prefer traditional over contemporary? Cosy over minimalist?
Finding the right interior designer
The relationship with an interior designer, who comes into your home and has to understand your lifestyle, can be quite intimate so it’s vital to find someone you get on with. A good place to start is personal recommendation, or by seeing examples of someone’s work.
Accreditation with the British Institute of Interior Design means that the designer has met the only available national professional standard for interior design, and you can look on the website to find professionals in your area.
Many designers offer a free initial consultation, so you can ‘meet and greet’ until you find someone you’d like to work with.
What to ask an interior designer
To help you establish whether you’ve found the right person for your project, the following checklist of questions may be helpful:
- Could I see photographs of previous projects? (This will help give you a feel for whether your own project is of a similar scope, and whether you like their professional style.) If they have other clients locally, ask if you’d be able to go and look at some of them.
- Do you have contractors that you work with regularly? (Most designers will have their own team of contractors they’re happy to work with, which will save you sourcing your own.)
- Are you insured? (All reputable designers will be insured and will be happy to show you certification.)
- What’s your availability? (Good designers will often be in demand).
- What timescale would you be working to? (It’s important to know from the outset how long the project is likely to take).
Interior designer fees
Some designers charge a flat hourly rate, while others will charge a percentage of the value of the job, so make sure you’re clear about fees beforehand. Check whether additional costs such as VAT or materials are included or not.
Ask for a firm schedule with milestones, and check whether penalty fees will apply in the event of serious delays.1