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How to select an interior designer

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Finding a suitable interior designer

If you follow the steps outlined below you should be able to find a local interior designer suitable for your project:

  • FIRST AND FOREMOST: If you have the time, educate yourself. Start by having a look at the following article: DIY Interior design & decorating. If you're really keen, also read the articles listed below under "Additional reading".
  • Take digital pictures of the areas you wish the interior designer to change, note the approximate shape and dimensions on a worksheet - using a pen and paper or a computer drawing package like Microsoft Paint.
  • Add the following information on your worksheet:
    • A brief description of your job; e.g. redecorate the main living area so that it is warmer and less noisy
    • A list of interior designers recommended by people you know, because nothing is better than a personal recommendation
    • A list of local designers from our online directory. Just enter your postcode when ready:  
  • Visit each interior designer's website - if the designer does not have a website you will have to ask to see their portfolio of recent work and that can be a tedious process (alternatively you can phone them and ask them to email you a selection of their work - but you have to ask - why don't they have a website?).
  • On you worksheet note the contact details of the interior designers whose work you liked.
  • Email each interior designer whose work appealed to you, explain your project to them, attach the pictures you took, send them the rough floor plans you prepared earlier, and ask questions; for example:
    • Ask whether or not they would be interested in your job - some interior designers will only do large commercial projects
    • Have they done similar jobs in the past and what was the final cost?
    • When can they come over for an initial consultation?
    • Will they be able to start the project within your timeframe?
    • Are they willing to prepare a fixed price quote?
    • How detailed are their quotations? Can they email you an example? (You want them to outline, in writing, exactly what they propose to do.)
    • Can they provide a list of at least 3 references?
  • Check references before meeting with the designer. Some questions worth asking referees are:
    • Was their project completed on time and on budget? If not why not? (Often requirements change, structural issues are discovered, and costs blow out as a result - and its no fault of the designer's.)
    • Were their expectations met? If not what were the problems?
    • Is the designer an effective communicator?
    • Almost every project will run into complications. What were the complications on their job and how did the designer deal with them?
  • After you have met each interior designer, and received their quotes, its time to make a decision - and that depends on many factors including price, satisfaction with the proposed design, availability, and whether or not you like and trust the designer. Assigning points between 0 and 5 for each aspect of the various proposals is a sound approach. The designer with the most points can then be awarded the project.
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