What Your Residential Architect Wishes You Knew But is Too Polite to Tell You

What Your Residential Architect Wishes You Knew But is Too Polite to Tell You

What Your Residential Architect Wishes You Knew But is Too Polite to Tell You

Photography by Lisa Russman

Before you ever select and start working with a design professional and residential architect on your next project, here are a few things you should know. 

“Please, speak up!”
Most architects will agree that the number one issue with the residential architectural design process is that clients don’t say what they mean or are not honest about their needs. Yes, we appreciate that you respect our expertise and experience. But, we also really, really want to hear from you. After all, this space we are designing is for you, and you are the ones that will have to live with it every day for a long time. We love it when our clients realize that they should be an active part of the process. Tell us your concerns. Ask questions when we use words you don’t understand or provide rationales with which you disagree. This process is a collaboration, and we need your voice to make this partnership work.  

“We are not like every other residential architect.”
Every architect is unique and special. We are all artists, and each of us has our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to residential architecture. It is always advisable that you do lots of research while trying to find an architect to choose one that matches your needs. If you are looking for a firm that has tons of experience in a particular style or with specific types of projects, looking through portfolios is the best way to gauge this. And just as aesthetics or design mindsets may differ, so do communication styles and attitudes towards clients, so it’s always a great idea to talk with past clients to make sure you mesh well with your chosen firm, too. 

“That change you want… it’s more complicated than you think.”
One of the reasons we value client feedback during the design process is because the more information we have in the beginning, the more successfully we can create a design that meets all or most of your needs on the first try. But, changes are inevitable during the design process, and we understand that. While it might look simple on paper to move a wall just a smidge or relocate that closet, every little change requires lots of additional alterations that you don’t see. These include revising electrical plans, rerouting plumbing, altering rooflines, or requiring additional support structures. The earlier we know about changes during the process, the better off everyone will be, and we appreciate your patience and understanding during the time it takes us to make them. 

“We won’t be able to put every idea from your Pinterest board into a design.”
We understand just how excited you are to design your dream space. And you have probably been collecting images and ideas for a long time to prepare for this process. Look at your inspirational collection to help you identify trends and an overall style rather than trying to incorporate every single idea into your new home or room. While eclectic styles can sometimes be great, we want to keep your new space from becoming merely a mismatched hodgepodge of elements you saw online. We are here to help you edit and pull from this collection the most essential pieces that will complete your vision. 

“Be realistic.”
Guess what? A gourmet kitchen will not make you a gourmet cook. And, your 12×12 living room can be amazing, but it will never be a combination office/game room/media room/kids hangout/formal dining area all at once. Be realistic about what your space can (and can’t) do for your life and what we can do with the space you have. We’ll help you design a space that meets your needs, but we have to work within the limits of space, time, and your budget, too.


What is Architectural Interior Design and Why is it Important to Your Next Project?

What is Architectural Interior Design and Why is it Important to Your Next Project?

What is Architectural Interior Design and Why is it Important to Your Next Project?

Photography by Lisa Russman

As a homeowner, it can be confusing to know when you might need an architect to help with your interior design remodel or when an interior designer will suffice. Knowing what an interior architect can and will do enables you to decide what expertise you need for your home’s renovation and who has the skills to help transform your home into the space you need. 

Understanding Interior Architecture vs. Interior Design
What exactly is interior architecture? This discipline includes knowledge and skills that consider all aspects of building and finishing an interior space. It encompasses everything from choosing the materials, planning for the necessary systems that influence habitation, the intelligent use of space, and how that space integrates with the rest of the structure. An interior architect applies design concepts to create areas that are not only structurally sound, but that are also functional and beautiful to the user. 

Interior design, strictly speaking, works with an existing space to craft spaces that meet the needs and wants of the client. While interior designers may recommend changes to structures, systems like HVAC, or support features, only a licensed architect can make those plans, as they have specialized knowledge about building design. 

Interior designers today often have some training or expertise in architectural and likewise, many architects have education and skills as designers, thus blurring the line between these two roles. A new specialization of interior design and architecture has emerged. Those in this combined role have the skills and knowledge to understand not only the structural and materials requirements for completing a space but also an eye for the softer components that finish and make it a home. Interior architectural designers have an understanding of design theory, technology, use of space, and styling to make the best choices for the homeowner. 

Does Your Next Project Need an Architect or a Designer?
Understanding the difference between interior design and architecture is helpful, as it can make a difference in your budget when you determine who you need to hire for your build or renovation. Because architects are licensed and require additional training, they are necessary for some kinds of projects but not necessarily all. 

 If you are making minor updates to your home, changing out paint, or just enlarging or replacing a few windows and doors, you may not need either an architect or a designer. Your contractor can help you with these types of updates. For larger projects, such as whole-room or whole-house remodels, additions, or any project that involves taking out walls or redoing plumbing, electrical, or HVAC systems, you should hire an architect. 

 An architect not only designs your space and helps you create a plan that will meet your needs, they also help manage your renovation project. They work directly with contractors and subs, oversee all the work, and manage your budget. Interior architects specialize in solving complex design problems while also making the new space aesthetically pleasing. 

 Interior designers are not engineers or architects, but they have wonderful expertise in space planning, remodeling rooms like kitchens and baths, or updating your room’s finishes. Any plans created by a designer should be reviewed by a structural engineer to ensure the safety of your home, and designers generally do not serve as project managers during the construction process. 

Get Everything You Need
Today, the role of interior design has grown to encompass knowledge of architectural design and principles, and the training of architects often includes interior design specialties, as well. Remember that if the exterior shell will remain the same but everything else will change, or if you will be adding additional square footage, hiring an interior architect with design experience and expertise will give you the best of both worlds.


What NJ Architects Want You to Know About the Home Design Process

Behind the Scenes: What NJ Architects Want You to Know About the Home Design Process

What NJ Architects Want You to Know About the Home Design Process

Photography by Lisa Russman

If you have never worked with an architect before or aren’t even sure why you might need one, there are a few things that you may want to know. Regardless of which NJ architect you choose to hire for your residential design project, we’ve laid out a few things you should understand before you decide to DIY your home design. 

You Are an Active Participant in the Architectural Design Process
NJ architecture firms want you to know that we value you and want your input in the design process. If you want your home to be everything you dreamed, then you need to be open and honest about your expectations as well as your budget. We value your candid feedback and appreciate when you are decisive, as it keeps us all from feeling frustrated during the design phase. Architects also appreciate when you are realistic and flexible, which means you are open to our ideas and respect our professional knowledge and expertise. 

Architects in NJ are Here to Translate Your Needs Into Function and Beauty
Whichever architect you hire for your job, it is essential to remember that our number one priority is providing you and your family with the home that meets your needs. While your focus may be on the bottom line or the style of your new space, we want to marry those with utility and flawless design to create a functional space that works for you now and into the future. Our focus is entirely on listening to your needs and wants, then designing a home that matches all of those as closely as possible. We are here to work with you. 

Find the Right New Jersey Architecture Firm For You
Not sure which architect is right to design a home that matches your aesthetic? Start by looking at our portfolios. Every architect is inspired by role models and has their own style and taste. This is reflected in the work that we do, and viewing pictures of past projects can show you how this translates into clients’ homes. When you talk to us, ask about which New Jersey architecture we admire and who our design role models are. While architects are flexible and work to make the client’s vision come true, our design lens influences all that we do, so be sure it aligns with your vision for your home. 

Be Sure You Ask Questions Throughout the Process
Design and architecture are complicated sometimes, but a good architect can always explain them simply. When you are working with your NJ architect, you should always ask questions when you don’t understand something. We want you to know the ins and outs of the process and finished product because it will be yours for years to come. If you don’t understand or need more explanation, say so! If you think you have a better idea, share it. 

New Jersey Architecture Firms can Oversee Your Project From Start to Finish
Most people don’t understand the full scope of what a residential architect can do, but architects in NJ can help you from beginning to end of your new home build, redesign, add-on, or renovation project. If you are struggling with where to start or how to manage all the details once construction has begun, then stop worrying. We have the training, connections, and skills to keep your whole project running like clockwork and on budget. From site selection through closing checklists, we can help as much or as little as you want. Talk with your residential architect about the services they offer. You may be surprised at all we can do!

 Your architect is your partner. Knowing their capabilities, role, and vision for your home will ensure a successful partnership from start to finish.


Confused and Overwhelmed by Interior Design Trends? How to Pick the Best Style for You

Confused and Overwhelmed by Interior Design Trends? How to Pick the Best Style for You

Confused and Overwhelmed by Interior Design Trends? How to Pick the Best Style for You

Photography by Lisa Russman

Deciding on a style for your new home or remodeling project can be overwhelming, but if you want to really love the final result, it is vital that you are clear about what you want before the design process begins. Internet quizzes abound on residential interior design trends that are meant to help you identify if you are more “Scandi” or “Boho,” but what does that actually mean for your home? 

Focusing on interior design trends can give you ideas and inspiration, but if you want to pick the best style for your interior design updates, then you need to ask yourself a few simple questions. Find the right look for your new home interior design with these tips. 

Do You Lean Towards the Past or Present?
Look at your wardrobe, your taste in cars, and the art and books you gravitate toward. If you tend toward the past, appreciate vintage or retro clothes, or enjoy historical fiction or classical art, then you may want to investigate designs that favor traditional, French country, or mid-century styles that are reminiscent of times gone by. 

If, however, you tend toward straight lines, minimalist sensibilities, or modern and contemporary forms of expression, then you may prefer design trends like those in Scandinavian, or industrial design styles. 

Is Your Life Full of Color or Based on a Neutral Palette?
Again, look at your closet. Do you love to wear things that are bright and colorful? Or are your clothes primarily dark or neutral hues with a dash of color here and there? These give you additional clues about what you would prefer in your home. While any design can be monochromatic or brightly-hued, those that lend themselves to more colorful choices include eclectic, contemporary, and Boho styles.

Are You More at Home in the City or Country?
Where your heart feels most comfortable will help you decide your style. Country living is epitomized by more rustic, coastal, or French country designs while the minimalist, Scandinavian, and Hollywood glam styles popular today embody city living. 

What Suits Your Family?
More important than any other question is, what do you need to live and be happy? While you may adore crisp lines (i.e., sharp corners) and sleek surfaces, that does not always work with several small children who enjoy leaving sticky fingerprints; furthermore, those sharp corners are anything but child-proof. Your heart may be dying for an all-white living room, but your three black cats have other ideas. While style is essential, so is honoring the reality of your life. 

Finding your style is often about choosing from several design traditions to create an eclectic or transitional look that suits you and your family’s needs. Combining styles allows you to select pieces and touches that help you feel at home while also remaining practical and creating a space that you can use, not just one that looks good. After all, a family should define the house, not the other way around.

Picking the best style for you starts with identifying your most essential needs as well as those aesthetics that speak most strongly to you. When working with a residential architect and interior designer, communicate these things thoroughly and allow them to help you create something beautiful as well as functional. Interior design does not have to oppose practicality, and working with professionals can help you create a home where everyone feels comfortable and joyful. 

Homes should be a reflection of who you are as a family. Getting in touch with your style means trusting your intuition and staying true to yourself.


Are You Ready for a New Exterior Home Design? Now You Can Have It!

Are You Ready for a New Exterior Home Design? Now You Can Have It!

Are You Ready for a New Exterior Home Design? Now You Can Have It!

photography by Lisa Russman

Does the outside of your home reflect your personality and style? Is it time to refresh your home’s exterior so that it matches the beautiful design you have created indoors? Whatever the reason, if your home needs a new look, a residential architect can help you choose from modern exterior home designs to find one that is perfect for you and your family.  

Exterior Home Design Styles and Updates
While a fresh coat of paint and new landscaping can undoubtedly improve your curb appeal, exterior remodels and renovations go beyond minor changes to give your home a whole new look and feel. Your renovation is a perfect time to take care of that decades-old leak that has mildewed your patio while also providing more natural light inside, and creating outdoor living areas for your whole family to enjoy.

Install New Siding
Give your home a whole new look by installing new siding over your existing facade. But don’t stop at just one type. You can use various materials or colors to accent different sections or architectural features of your home. Shingles or corrugated metal can call attention to eaves or dormers, while board-and-batten or fiber cement planks can create a durable, low-maintenance exterior that completely changes the look of the house.

Add a Porch
Front porches not only change the look of your home’s exterior but they also add outdoor living space. Consider adding a porch that extends around the side of your home to add curb appeal, plus a fun and functional space for the kids to explore and play or a quiet spot for mom to escape. When you add your new porch, consider updating your front door or redesigning your entryway to include a larger front walk, a more defined and welcoming entrance, or wider and safer stairs leading into your home.

Replace Your Windows or Roof
Adding new, larger windows can improve the natural light within your home while also changing the exterior design. A bay or picture window provides a new focal point for your exterior, and varying the shape of your windows can add interest and texture to your facade. Plus, new windows can reduce your energy use and lower your utility bills. 

Upgrading your roof is an easy and effective way to update the exterior design for small houses. While providing excellent protection for several decades to come, a new roof can also become an architectural detail for your home. Adding a metal roof, cedar shakes, a tile roof, or architectural shingles can help enhance the look of your home while adding durability to your exterior remodeling project. 

Install a Fence
If your kids or pets need more room to roam, adding a fence can not only give you peace of mind when they are outdoors, but it also revitalizes the exterior of your home. Fences are great for defining property boundaries or select areas of your yard, and they can add style and interest to your exterior. A fence not only updates your home’s look, but it also keeps your family (including all two- and four-legged members) safe and secure.  

Combine Small Changes for a Big Impact
If your budget or needs don’t call for substantial changes to your home’s exterior, even small projects can make a big difference. Replacing exterior lighting, shutters, landscaping, or trim colors are all small and inexpensive updates that also add new interest and detail to your facade.

Do I Need a Residential Architect?
If you are looking to completely overhaul your home’s exterior, add architectural details, add or change windows and doors, or alter entryways or access points, having a residential architect will help ensure that your project runs smoothly. When you work with a design professional, your exterior changes will complement and flow seamlessly with your interior design, too.


Architects in NJ are Ready to Give You the Space You Need - On Trend and On Budget

Architects in NJ are Ready to Give You the Space You Need – On Trend and On Budget 

Architects in NJ are Ready to Give You the Space You Need - On Trend and On Budget

photography by Lisa Russman

So, you’re ready to remodel your home. You have some ideas about what you want but aren’t sure where to start. Deciding to work with one of many residential New Jersey architecture firms is an essential first step in getting the home you need that matches your style as well as your budget. And when you choose to work with NJ architects, you are entering into a significant relationship. So, it should be with people you feel like you can work with and trust throughout your home renovation project. 

Which New Jersey architecture firm is the right choice for you? Who is going to be able to design a home that will give your family the space as well as the joy you deserve? The decision may seem difficult given the many excellent choices, but here are some simple steps to help you decide the right NJ residential architect for you. 

Narrow the Field
Online research can help you narrow down your choices significantly. Start by looking at firms’ online portfolios. How does this architect design for the needs, mess, and fullness of family life? What details do you notice that indicate they are in tune with their clients’ daily needs? Don’t see anything that feels like “home” to you? That means they are probably not the right architect for your project. Getting to know an architect’s design aesthetic starts with their portfolio, so spending time here is a great first step.

Ask Around
Getting referrals helps a great deal in choosing the right residential architect. Ask friends and contacts on social media for recommendations. When you see a house you really love, ask who designed it. Check online review sites to see what others have to say about those on your short list. 

If you have a few firms you are considering, ask each architect if you can speak to past clients. Be sure to inquire not only about their satisfaction with the finished product but about the process of working with the firm. Did they feel heard? Was the process collaborative? Were their timelines and budget honored? How was communication throughout the build? 

Meet with Your Top Choices
It is crucial that you meet with any potential architects before making a final decision. You want someone who believes in partnership and will delve deep into your needs to create a house defined by you. If you can’t work together, there is no point in hiring them. Meeting face-to-face is the best way to tell if you will be able to collaborate with someone and if they can create a space where everyone can enjoy one another.

This person will be helping your family bring your vision into reality, so it is absolutely worth the time to meet with them and ensure the relationship will be what you want. Once you have narrowed your options to a few, you still have to consider logistics. Are they available when you would like to complete your renovation? Does their fee match your budget? These are important details that should not be overlooked, as they can lead to serious problems down the road. 

Make Your Decision
After meeting with your top choices, you are ready to take the plunge. Ask yourself which firm was most passionate about their work while also being thoughtful about its practicality, use of space, and details. When talking about their designs, who discussed the rhythms and flow of those who occupied that space? Who asked you the most questions? These can help guide your choice for creating a home that evolves and grows with your family.


what-are-the-real-house-addition-costs-you-should-expect

What are the Real House Addition Costs You Should Expect? Simple Answers for Your Family

what-are-the-real-house-addition-costs-you-should-expect

photography by Lisa Russman

Adding an addition, bump out, or new detached space to your home is a perfect way to gain room and functionality for your home, but many clients wonder, is it worth it? There is always a cost to add an addition to a house, and understanding what to expect during the remodeling process will help your family make the best choice when it comes to deciding whether an addition makes sense.

What you need to know about the cost of addition

Most people know that the size of your addition will significantly influence how much it will cost. The more square footage, the larger the price tag. Obviously, the materials you choose will affect your budget, as well. Bathrooms and kitchens with high-end details will be significantly more expensive than bedrooms or sunrooms with more basic finishes. But what are some of the other things that can influence your home addition budget?

The type of addition has a tremendous impact. Most often, it costs more to build out than up, because excavation, concrete and masonry are all very labor intensive. On the other hand, when building up, composition shingle roofing, comparatively, is not a significant cost as a percentage of overall construction cost. You do have to keep in mind that additions often times require other remodeling projects within the house to make the existing space flow more smoothly with the new addition. This all adds to the overall design costs.

If your new space adds extra load to your existing plumbing, electrical, and heating/cooling system, you may need to replace these, which can increase costs. And any time you start a project like this, you may also discover existing problems that will need to be addressed before you can begin anything new, such as termite or water damage, wiring that is not up to code, or foundation issues.

Any site preparation that needs to be done to accommodate your new space will also affect the cost. Excavation, demolition, and wall removal can all add to the budget before you even start building anything new.

Your own sweat equity can keep costs down, though, if you want to make the most of your budget. If you can do demolition, painting, tiling, or other projects for your new space, this will lower construction costs and help you get more for your money.

So, how much does a home addition cost, then? Depending on the size, complexity, location, and design of your home addition, prices can range anywhere between $200 and $600 per square foot, with the national average for a home addition being around $44,000. Keep in mind that these averages include everything from three-foot bump outs to full kitchens with top-of-the-line appliances.

What you need to know about real house addition costs

Obviously, you want to consider what a new addition to your house will bring to your overall property value, but you should also consider how this new space will affect your family’s story and enjoyment of your home. Working with an architect who actively listens to you, works with you as a team, and understands your true needs will give you a home addition that not only gives you more space but adds purpose and meaning to your family life.

A professional architect will not only help you design the additional space your family needs, but they can advise you on how to prepare for the most likely construction contingencies for your project while helping to ensure that your addition blends in seamlessly with the existing structure. Select a team who specializes in renovations and remodels, as they will be able to create a design that matches your current home while giving you the updates your family needs.


Small Space Living for Any House Layout is Absolutely Possible!

Small Space Living for Any House Layout is Absolutely Possible!

Small Space Living for Any House Layout is Absolutely Possible!

photography by Lisa Russman

Are you living in a small space but aren’t ready to expand or move? If your home is feeling a bit cramped these days, but you still love your house and want to make it work, then it is time to consider a new design for your house’s layout. Many times, families don’t need more room but instead need to make better use of the room they have. And working with a residential architect to change the layout and design of your house is the perfect way to stay where you are and get the space you need.

Know how you use your home
Think carefully about where you spend most of your time at home. Where does the REAL living take place? And where are there underutilized spaces? An architect can help you imagine how to shift the layout of your house to maximize the use of every square inch of your home’s footprint. By turning little-used rooms into multi-functional spaces, creating nooks and places for kids to hang out and be together, and changing the flow and traffic patterns in your home, you can open up your small space to make it feel like a palace.

Use a grand space in many ways
Imagine how certain areas of your home can transform and be used for many different purposes, depending on the need. When you have a great room that is the central hub for your home, your family will spend most of their time here. It’s vital that your house plans include how to use this open area for both family movie night, homework time, building blanket forts, and entertaining your friends. When all the living your family does revolves around a large, open area, it can have the effect of expanding the adjacent spaces, too, throwing life into all the other rooms in your home.

Spaces that work
In a smaller home, nothing can serve just one purpose. The laundry room may also need to be the mudroom and storage closet; the office may also need to be a guest room and a craft corner. The chores of everyday life need to have space if you want small-house living to be successful for everyone in your family. A residential architect can work with you to shift your house’s design so that every space has a purpose, and every purpose has a space.

Even the furniture in your home should pull double-duty. Benches and ottomans should contain storage, and you should be maximizing under-bed spaces. Gain real estate with blank wall space by adding cork boards, peg boards, and shelves, which will help keep your family’s chaos under control and within reach.

Make the outside a part of your home
If you want a smaller space to feel more substantial, the use of natural light easily opens up an area. And when you have space outside, the yard should become another living area. Create a covered patio or sun porch that everyone can use for work or play to give you more room to live. Large doors that open onto outside spaces, huge windows that bring in the beauty of your surroundings, and the use of natural materials throughout your home can all help you feel like your space is much larger than it is.

Changing the design and layout of your house can help you get the home you’ve always wanted without having to move. A residential architect can help you create the right plans for the house of your dreams, at a price you can afford.


Residential Architects Protect Your Vision. Here is How You Can Avoid a Construction Nightmare!

Residential Architects Protect Your Vision. Here is How You Can Avoid a Construction Nightmare!

Residential Architects Protect Your Vision. Here is How You Can Avoid a Construction Nightmare!

photography by Lisa Russman

A great residential architect protects you throughout the design and construction process. When you choose the right architect for you and your family, your construction project is guaranteed to be a success. Avoid becoming a victim of construction-project horror stories by remembering that your architect is there to support you in many ways. Here are the ways that a residential architect will help you with your design project:

1. Architects protect your vision
A residential architect’s job starts by translating your ideas into actual, workable plans. Residential-architecture design begins with listening, understanding, and delving into your family’s fantasies, demands, and needs for a new home. These dreams are realized when all of that input is put together with architectural expertise to create a beautiful, functional design that can be built by a contractor.

It is vital that you find an architect who is willing and able to preserve your personal story as it becomes a part of the design of your home. Each family has unique needs, and it is the job of the architect to dig deep to discover how your home needs to work in ways that honor your vision.

2. Residential architects protect you from yourself
There is a great deal outside of your realm of expertise when it comes to designing, planning, and building a whole house that is meant to withstand years of use and the forces of nature. Your residential architect is there to confirm that you get what you want but that you also understand what is required for the safe, long-lasting life of your home.

An architect works hand-in-hand with engineers, electricians, plumbers, and others to make sure your house looks great but also functions correctly. Residential architects may even need to help you compromise on certain aspects of your design if they aren’t feasible for your lot or because of building restrictions. Let your residential architect be your custom guide, and trust that they are working to protect as well as please you.

3. An architect protects you throughout the build process
From the chaos of the construction process to collaborating with all of the many subcontractors on your home’s build site, a residential architect is there to make sure everything stays on schedule, your house is built to match your designs, and that the construction process runs smoothly. Your architect can help explain things to you when you aren’t sure what to do, he or she can keep the peace when disagreements arise on the job site, and they work hard to make sure all the services provided to you are fair and in your best interest.

4. They protect your investment
A residential architect makes sure that your house is built on time, on budget, and safely. Your architect will apply for planning permission, ensure your home complies with health and safety guidelines in your area, control your site budget, help you choose the most environmentally friendly materials, and plan for all site inspections and necessary certificates. They’ll provide you with the right advice when it comes to additions and extensions to existing homes that will maximize your square footage without compromising the structural integrity of your home.

Protect yourself by choosing a residential architect
The right residential architect can secure everything important to you when it comes to your new custom home project. Safeguarding your story, your family member’s health, and safety, and your sanity is just a few of the many benefits that come from finding an architect to design your next home.

A home is a place for living and creating memories, not for recovering from the construction process. Your residential architect will be there to share their experiences and knowledge but also listen to your questions and concerns. Working together, you can discover that the construction process can indeed be a dream and not a nightmare.


Interior Designers are great Listeners! Make Sure You Ask These Important Questions

Interior Designers are great Listeners! Make Sure You Ask These Important Questions

Interior Designers are great Listeners! Make Sure You Ask These Important Questions

photography by Lisa Russman

Finding an interior designer can begin to feel a lot like dating. You may find yourself trying to figure out what you are ultimately looking for, unsure of who is the right fit, or unclear on which prospect to start investigating first. Whether you are looking to redesign an existing space or design a new build if you are unfamiliar with the process of hiring an interior-design professional, remember that you are interviewing them—and make sure to ask these important questions.

Do they have an interior-design license?
You may prefer to hire a licensed professional who has gone through schooling and proven their understanding in the field. According to All Art Schools, “though noncertified/unregistered professionals can perform the same duties as their credentialed counterparts, holding this recognition is seen as a way to demonstrate your proficiency in design and commitment to staying up-to-date on industry standards.” They are required to perform continued learning in order to maintain this license.

Do they have a contractor license?
Sometimes the value of hiring a home-design professional is more than just paying for someone who can make things look pretty. If you would like your designer to do all of the heavy lifting to obtain building permits, go through town process reviews, and oversee any necessary construction on your behalf, you will want to ensure you choose someone who is licensed to do so.

Do they have a portfolio and references?
Of course, a designer will show you their best work and sing their own praises in order to land the job, but being able to see your prospect’s real-life work examples and speak to their actual customers can be valuable aids in making your final decision.

Does their timeline meet your needs?
Are you moving into a new house and need to make it livable with the basics now, but are able to take your time on the details? Do you need a designer to be on standby until construction is complete before they can get started? Or do you need your project finished last week? You will need to determine if you and the designer can come to an agreement on turnaround time.

What is their fee?
A certified interior designer should offer multiple billing methods for you to choose from. Dengarden, a website for style and inspiration, advises that “during the initial interview with a prospective client, an interior designer must give the various options available.” They may offer to bill you by the hour, by the project, or charge you a commission based on what you buy. Ask the designer to explain each option until you are satisfied you understand which one is best for you and your project.

Do they offer support after the work is complete?
If you decide to go with a designer who is more hands-off, they will send you interior-design information such as a floor plan, a shopping list, and detailed instructions to complete the project on your own. Find out if the designer will provide additional help after your project is complete or will they send it and forget it, leaving you to do your best? Most professionals will offer consultation time if you get stuck or have questions.

Do they guarantee their work?
Determine if the designer will guarantee their work. What happens if the wrong materials arrive or if you aren’t fully satisfied with the finished product? Take time to understand the terms of their guarantee, and decide if it is agreeable.

As you work through these questions with prospective designers, be sure to pay attention to their personality. Do you enjoy conversing? Do you feel comfortable with them? This individual is going to be your new best friend for life—or at least until your project is complete—so choosing someone you like is just as important as finding someone qualified.