Choosing an interior designer is a big choice. As the client, you want everything to be perfect—you have to live with the results so it’s only natural to want to avoid mistakes at all costs.
On the designer side of the equation, we like to get to know our clients before beginning any projects. We’re not always the right fit for everyone. The same is true on the client side—not every interior designer is going to fit your needs.
When you boil it down, working with an interior designer is a relationship. And like any good relationship, both parties need to be on the same page, operating together to make everything work. You want to find someone who listens to your wants and needs but who also has the design expertise to guide you in the right direction.
So I thought I’d equip you with some elements you should consider that will help determine if an interior designer is the right designer for you.
Vetting your designer before you hire them will make your design project a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Like any relationship, chemistry is extremely important—you need to find a design team that you gel with professionally.
As I mentioned before, you will have a working relationship with this person (or people). And to that point, your designer will be in your home, working in your personal space for an extended period of time. Finding someone who you get along with may not seem like a big deal, but it is extremely important.
Before making any commitment, set up a time to meet in person or over the phone to see how you communicate with one another. Speaking directly to a designer is the best way to test your future working relationship. It also gives you a chance to ask any questions you may have in the early planning stages.
Keep these things in mind during your first meeting to help you determine if you are a good fit for one another:
- Are they comfortable with your goals and budget?
- Are they or their team accessible and easy to schedule time with?
- Do they directly answer your questions?
- Are they interested in your ideas and do they listen closely to what you are saying?
You’ll spend a lot of time talking to your designer, so it’s important to get along with them. And if the chemistry isn’t there, forcing it isn’t going to make the process enjoyable for anyone.
Underestimating the importance of aesthetics is a big no-no in the world of interior design. Interior designers spend their entire careers honing, moulding and, adapting their aesthetic—it is literally our brand.
Finding an interior designer who’s aesthetic is aligned with yours is extremely paramount. This doesn’t mean you need to find a designer who perfectly matches what you consider to be the perfectly designed living room. It just means that you should be looking for a designer who’s general sense of style and design runs parallel to yours.
You will first want to spend some time figuring out what your own aesthetic looks like—if you haven’t already. Whether you build out a Pinterest board, flip through some design magazines, or browse the internet for inspiration, you should have a solid grasp on your personal style preference.
From there, start pouring over the portfolios of interior designers. You’ll quickly get a sense of their aesthetic and be able to see if it meshes with your personal style. Remember, a good interior designer has a crystallized aesthetic, but a strong designer will be able to tell your story through their creative vision.
With over $7 billion being spent on Instagram advertising each year, the design industry has clearly adopted the social media app as their own. And it’s no wonder—as the most visually-centric social app out there, Instagram was made for swoon-worthy interior shots and close-up design detail photos.
But because of this, interior designers and decorators seem to be a dime a dozen. It is easy to start an Instagram page, throw up some well-lit images and claim to be a professional.
The best designers have spent years studying colour, space, and even psychology to understand how to effectively create a functional, beautiful room. But because there is no way to accurately monitor image attribution, sometimes you may be looking at an image that aligns perfectly with your aesthetic, but it doesn’t belong to the designer who posted it.
Beyond that, in a world where we often scroll past images only looking at them for a few seconds, it's hard to catch when an image is a digital rendering. But when you're looking for a designer, take a closer look at their images—if it's digitally rendered, you will notice that something looks a bit off. It’s one skill to be able to produce an aesthetically pleasing concept, but the skills of logistical project management and problem solving are 90% of the work. And that is the skill set you will need when you hire an interior designer.
That’s why I always suggest digging a little deeper to ensure you are hiring who you think you are hiring. Look beyond their Instagram profile, dig into their portfolio, ask for references, and do your homework.
It’s awful to think that someone would post work that isn’t theirs, but it sadly happens all too often.
It’s always a good idea to inquire about an interior designer or design firm’s processes. How do they work? How do they handle billing? Do they follow a process?
If you're speaking with a designer and they can’t tell you anything about their process, odds are you may experience a few delays as they work out all of the kinks.
A design team that has a strong process that has been field-tested time and time again is always a positive in my books. At Dima Ahmad Interiors, we’ve been perfecting our processes for years so that our clients have a seamless experience with little-to-no bumps along the way.
Finally, it’s a good idea to ask your designer about the team they work with. From their own staff to trades they partner with, you want to get an idea of who will be working in your home.
When they speak about their team, take the time to really listen to how they refer to and speak about them. You want to work with someone who speaks highly of their team—the second you hear someone speaking poorly of their own team, you can consider that a big red flag.
As designers, we often assume that people know how to hire a designer or how to properly vet a designer for their needs. Just like we spend time getting to know our clients, you should be doing the same with your designer.
I hope these five key elements can help you make an informed decision when it comes to hiring the right interior designer for you.
All my best,