Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hiring An Interior Designer

As an Interior Designer, I can attest to the fact that it is definitely a time and money saver to hire a professional such as myself for your home improvement project.

First, you need to understand that with all the expertise and ideas a well-trained professional designer can offer, you have to ask yourself these two questions: What do I want, and how much do I want to spend. Once you have that figured out, you are well on your way to finiding the right designer.

Finding the right designer for you is not always easy, but the best place to start is to ask for referrals. Talk to friends and neighbors, and even real estate agents. Once you have your list of potential designers, check out their websites to get an idea of their work through images of past projects. Consider hiring a designer whose services fit your needs. Some designers have areas of specialty like renovations, kitchen and bath designs, window treatments or model home merchandising. Some have a signature style that they like to focus on, which is great if that style matches what you're looking for. But in general, a good designer is able to take your ideas and vision for your home...whatever style...and bring it to life.

The next thing to consider before making that phone call is researching project costs.
If you've never done an interior design project before, you'll need to do a little homework to determine a reasonable budget. Friends and neighbors who have done makeovers similar to what you have in mind -- and are willing to discuss what they spent -- can provide a good basis for a ballpark number. Another helpful resource is Remodeling Magazine's annual "Cost vs. Value" report on some of the most popular remodeling projects.

Once you have chosen your designer and determined your budget, you will have some homework to do: Think about what your top priorities are. It is not uncommon to have several projects or rooms to be done, but not all the money at once to get them done. Your should determine which rooms you would like to have finished first and consider doing things in phases instead of putting the entire project on hold. A great designer can help you figure out what projects to do first that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Another homework item is to consider the time frame in which you would like to have things completed. It is very common for people to wait too long to call in a designer. Keep in mind that custom pieces - like upholstery pieces can take up to 12 weeks in some cases, (usually an average of 4-6 weeks). Issues like back ordered items, or shipping delays can hold up a project.
It also helps to have any magazine clippings or interior design images that you have been collecting handy for your designer. That helps to give his/her a good direction and definitely helps to identify your style.
Talk about your expectations throughout the design process...do you want to be the main point of contact or your spouse, do you like weekly updates or every couple of days, do you prefer email contact or phone calls, how involved do you want to be throughout the process. I cannot stress enough how important it is to set expectations from the very beginning. That eliminates alot of miscommunication and misunderstandings.

One of the main things you will want to discuss upfront with your designer is their billing method. Interior designers frequently charge an hourly fee, plus a markup for handling the purchase of furnishings and materials. Some provide access to a discount on retail purchases.  A few designers simply bill by the hour with no purchasing services offered. There also are designers who charge a flat project fee or a percentage of the budget.
Be aware that if the interior designer does the purchasing on your behalf, you will be expected to pay 100 percent of the costs upfront. Many designers also require the payment of a retainer, ranging from $500 to $25,000, when you sign the contract.
Make certain the designer you hire is selling the services you want to buy. For instance, if you are thinking about a do-it-yourself room makeover, some designers will offer consultation for an hourly fee to provide a few ideas or some planning assistance. Many will only take on full projects from concept to excecution.

One of the biggest ways an interior designer can save you time and money is by helping you find good construction and remodeling contractors. This is what we do all day, and very often than not we have contractors that we work with everyday that will be respectful of our clients homes and personal possessions. They are going to have integrity and do what they promised.

All in all, it is a great investment to make in your home. If you are going to spend the money anyway, a designer can help you spend it the right way. At Casa Vilora Interiors we are committed to helping our clients through the design process, making it easy and fun with outstanding results.

Please feel free to comment on this blog if you have any questions about how to hire an Interior Designer.