So you’ve graduated from that semi-permanent, moving-once-a-year state and decided to put down some roots, congrats! Now you need to figure out how to personalize your home or apartment. If you’re feeling stuck or short on time, it could be smart to consult an interior designer. Before you say it’s too expensive, think again. These days there are so many ways that hiring an interior designer can fit into your personal budget. Interior design online services like Havenly have changed the game, allowing you to bring in a pro to decorate your home on your terms. But it’s important to know what you’re looking for before you begin. We spoke with Shelby Girard, head of design at Havenly, about how to choose an interior designer that’s the best fit for you:
What should you look for when hiring an interior designer?
It depends on what sort of service you are hiring them for. Is it mostly choosing décor and making a cohesive furniture/design scheme? Or are you doing renovation work where you might want to consult a kitchen or bath specialist? Make sure their experience aligns with what you want to do. We hire designers who are experienced in certain technical skills, have a great sense of scale and space planning, and have a great eye for design. While we like to match clients with designers who have a similar aesthetic, we worry less about picking a designer who has your exact style— as a designer their job is to assess your taste and make it a reality.
Is hiring a designer worth the money?
A lot of people think they can do interiors themselves, and you might be able to when it comes to picking out pieces you love, but creating a comprehensive vision for your home and curating everything from big pieces down to small details can take a ton of time. Designers have experience with a huge range of vendors and have first-hand product knowledge. They're experts in mixing colors, patterns, and styles, not to mention making sure everything recommended is functional for your specific needs. Using a designer in your home can ultimately create a more cohesive, functional vision, without the trial and error it may take to execute on your own.
What questions should you ask about a designer’s process?
Ask about the various steps they typically take during the sourcing and design process to know what to expect (and when) along the way. I’d also make sure to ask about what feedback is needed to understand how involved you should be throughout. Design is a very collaborative process so aligning from the get-go and knowing what to expect is everything. Some people prefer a very hands-off process, but generally, the more collaboratively you work with the designer (by asking questions and participating in the design process) the happier you will be with the result.
What are some red flags to watch out for when hiring a designer?
Above anything you want to make sure you are getting a designer who is a great listener and will take your specific needs, style, and unique considerations in mind. While you may love someone’s style, make sure they’re willing to collaborate with you to realize your vision and will almost over communicate. It's really like choosing a partner in crime for your design— you want someone who just gets you.
Interior design cost can be intimidating! What should you ask about budget?
Discussing what you can expect with your specific budget is important. Talk to your designer about the types of vendors and quality you can get within your budget and figure out where you can mix high and low to get the most bang for your buck. Get their honest opinions about what might require more money and what they can do with what you've set aside. One of the things that can make a design experience unpleasant is when expectations are properly communicated. Get it all out in the open from the beginning. Ultimately, some budgets will allow greater freedom with the design than others.
What sort of quote/design plan should you expect once you are ready to sign on the dotted line? What should it absolutely include?
Traditional interior designers often charge by the hour, so they'll scope their work for you in advance. At Havenly, a big advantage is that our cost is relatively low up-front, which opens the door for clients who may have previously felt like they couldn't afford a designer for their home, or those who want to try it out without a huge financial commitment. For a flat fee, we offer a full project option that includes initial ideas, design concepts, final renderings, a space plan, and a shopping list of everything to make the design a reality. Most designers will have similar deliverables, and some will handle sourcing and install as well.
Photos courtesy of Havenly.
The first step in designing a beautiful space? Choosing the perfect paint colors!