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5 Tips for Working with an Interior Designer

Here is the homework that I recommend you complete before you have a meeting with an interior designer.

Hiring an interior designer is an investment in your life and home.

Whether you’ve worked with a designer before or if this is your first time, it’s always a good idea to be prepared before you contact an interior designer for your consultation.  Here is the homework that I recommend you complete before you have a meeting with an interior designer.


We have the tendency as humans to carry a lot around in our heads, endless tasks, wants, needs and to-do lists.  When it comes to home projects, it’s very important to get these things out of our head and on paper.  This is what I recommend my clients do.

1. Get a special notebook and carve out a few hours for yourself on a weekend–maybe pour yourself a glass of wine while you’re at it!

2. Dedicate a good 15-30 minutes in each space in your home and jot down your wish list for every room.  Let yourself dream! Try not to think about money at this point.  Get all your ideas and annoyances out on paper.

3. Transfer your ideas to a spreadsheet or other method that works for you.  I like these printables from The New Classics Shop.  

4. Now, ask yourself this question, “In 12 months from today, if you had a magic wand, what three things would you change to increase your quality of life?”



Yes, I said investment and not budget.  Hiring an interior designer is an investment in your life and home. 


How much do you want to invest in the project? Do you have money already set aside? Do you have a budget in mind?  A lot of clients find it hard to pin down a number if you don’t know the cost of something.   


If you’re struggling with coming up with a number here are a few inside tips.  


1. If your room doesn’t require construction or renovation most designers will charge anywhere from $5000 to $10000 for a full-service room design.  This is for design fees only, and doesn’t include the cost of furnishings.


2. What are the cost of furnishings?  Some designers have a minimum furnishings allowance, while others work within what you want to spend.  I love how this article helps you determine the cost of furnishings for your space. 


If I am designing a room that doesn’t require any construction, I work within your furnishings investment level.  A strong cornerstone to my business is to incorporate vintage and thrifted furnishings.  Sometimes this can assist in keeping the investment level lower, depending on where and what we are sourcing.  However, this isn't a rule of thumb, as some treasures are worth the investment!



You may not know this, but you have preconceived notions and expectations already developed about working with an interior designer.  This can come from TV, (HGTV has taught us that things are fast and affordable and luxurious!) or from previous experience in hiring out creative work.  Whether these are positive or negative, it's very important that you and your designer talk through your expectations. 

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A good designer is skilled at bringing out the story and feeling that you can’t quite nail on your own.  However, that doesn’t mean that designers are also mind readers.  It’s like naming a child, I can love a name, but that may be the name of the weird kid that ate his boogers in class.


Knowing what you dislike is just as important as knowing what you love.  


Track both of these strong feelings and associations as you go through your days and weeks.  Here are a few suggestions for keeping track of inspiration.


1. Pen and Paper– (if you’re not old like me, notes on your iPhone).  The two places that I unexpectedly seem to find inspiration are through TV/movies (set design, cinematography) and restaurants.  Both of these venues provoke feelings and it's good to know what is making you happy and inspired! 


2. Pinterest is a great way to catalog digital inspiration that we find online.  You can also add your own photos to your boards to create a central place for your visual inspiration.  If you’re familiar with Houzz, they also have a great tool for capturing and organizing your inspiration through their platform.


3. Magazines and Books.  I personally love finding inspiration away from a computer screen.  The tried and true method of finding inspiration via magazine clippings will never go out of style.


This may seem self explanatory, but writing down all of your questions before you meet with an interior designer is a great way to keep the process moving forward without a lot of back and forth emails after your meeting. If you are partnered, I highly recommend that both parties have reviewed and discussed the questions and expectations before you meet with a designer.

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