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.