Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hiring an Interior Designer

Interior designers are everywhere.  You just have to look.  Look online.  We all eat, breath, and sleep decorating.  We love it!  Okay, I'll speak for myself.  I love it!, Hiring an Interior Designer

Have you ever learned from a friend how many different types of nurses there are?  The ones who have an associates, or a bachelor's or a master's, or specialized in this or that?  They all have slightly different names and different pay rates.  Interior designers are like that too, only without the name changes to give you any hints.  I used to think that the decorators were low class, and the interior designers where high class.  No one calls themselves a decorator anymore.  Too chintzy--ha!  Literally.  We all pander to you who say they want "clean lines" ha ha.

So.  No name changes to clue you in on what a designer's qualifications are.  A lot of commercial interior designers are NCIDQ certified, which is a giant test that only designers with a certain amount of formal training and formal time in the work atmosphere can take.  This guarantees that the designer knows how to space plumbing for a public bathroom or the details of ADA.  Things that pertain to liability in a commercial setting.  It is an impressive qualification.  The education and experience can't be ignored, and the test is brutal which shows some moxie on their part.  This doesn't guarantee that you will like their prices, style, or personality or that they are great with residential design.  The two are totally different.

There is IIDA and ASID membership.  The interior designer pays money to have this membership based on their qualifications.  Typically educators and designers working for a design firm will make this a priority.  The membership demands continuing education, and so these are good things.

BUT the most important things to qualify an interior designer that you are considering for hire are visualization, experience, and communication.  If a designer isn't gifted in visualizing different solutions, hasn't had a client project or two gone bad to learn from, or can't get their vision for your room across to you, then you are headed for trouble.  Also, the designer needs to have the patience for detail--or at least be paying someone to do this for them.  Interior design is endless endless detail.  The club chair feet that didn't make it to the client's home from the furniture store, the exact color of burnt orange from the curtains, the ramifications of the upholstery shop making the tufted headboard 2" longer than expected.  This is what makes an interior designer valuable!!

Here are some questions you can ask when you meet a potential interior designer.

1. What is your education?

2. What is your experience as a professional interior designer?

3. What tools do you use to convey your ideas for my space? (floor plans, renderings, etc)

4. How much do you charge?

5. Could I have some references of past clients you have helped?

The truth is, I have been paid by several people to decorate for them, and no one asks these questions.  They usually already knew me a little bit, from my husband as a co-worker or through a community organization.  Two clients just hired me right from my door flyer.  I think that to a potential client, the most important thing to them is that they hire a decorator who performs well during the consultation.  They probably liked my personality.

I'll post more about how interior designers charge soon.

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