They say choosing an interior designer for your home is almost like being in a relationship - the chemistry is important. But more than that, good communication and commitment is also essential to make the "relationship" work.
That said, it is really not easy to find an interior designer who is the right match for you through just one interview. However, it can be much easier if you know the right questions to ask!
1. "What qualifications do you have?"
Know the difference: there are interior designers and there are interior decorators. interior designers are licensed and have earned a degree involving coursework in architecture. On the other hand, interior decorators are not licensed and may not have those qualifications - but has likely interned or gained experience in one way or another. Just as interior designer, Cara Scarola had stated in her interview, “You’d vet your doctor, you’d vet your lawyer, you should vet your interior designer.” You have to know the qualifications of the interior designers to make a wise choice!
What to consider: Depending on the scope of your project, different skills are required. For example, if you are knocking down your walls and rebuilding them, it’s better to find someone with architectural experience and formal education.
2. "How do you know what is my style?"
Sometimes it is hard to put across a certain style you like. A good designer should be able to help you communicate your wants by asking you questions about what you have at home, what kind of art you prefer or simply showing you some photos and observing you reactions to them.
What to consider: Being on the same page with your designer is of the utmost importance, so make sure your designer asks you enough questions to understand your everyday lifestyle and tastes.
3. "How much do you charge for your services and when is the payment due?"
Designers either charge their clients by the room or by the hour. You should expect to spend about $15,000 for a 3-room HDB flat, up to $20,000 for a 4 room HDB flat and up to $24,000 for a 5 room HDB flat. You also need to know if you have to pay upfront, after every project stage, or after the project completion. Either way, remember to ask for clear, consistent schedule for payment.
What to consider: Charging by rooms is a more concrete option, as you will know the exact overall project cost. Some designers can charge up to $100/hour, and the bills can add up very quickly without you knowing. However, you should also understand that some of the time spent could be due to your slow decision making or fickle mindnesses!
Tip: Ask quotes from several interior designers or firms before making a decision. When they ask you for your budget, give them 85% of what you plan to spend.
4. "Do we work with you directly & how will we communicate?"
Is the interior designer the direct contact? Or do you have to go through another person? It’s also best to agree on a regular communication schedule and method so you can always be informed of the project’s progress. Furthermore, it will also be easier to discuss any minor adjustments while minimizing the delay to the project.
What to consider: We suggest for you meet your interior designer in person to talk about the progress on a weekly basis, or at least once at every stage of the project.
5. "Can you show me examples of your previous works that are similar to my project?"
If the interior designer has experience with a similar project, it is a good indication that they can handle yours. If they don’t, always ask them to show you a project they feel is the most similar. It is important for you to have something physical to base your decisions on!
What to consider: Avoid any designers who hesitate to show you their portfolio. Any experienced and credible interior designer should be able to show you examples of their previous projects. In fact, they would be taking initiative to show it to you to convince you of what they can do!
6. "How will you show me the proposed designs for my home?"
One of the most exciting – and important – parts of working with an interior designer is to see the proposed designs for your home. Ask him what visualization methods will be used, so you can manage your expectations.
What to consider: Design boards offer more flexibility to changes, while computer imaging offers a more realistic portrayal.
7. "Do you do the purchasing for us?"
Some people may prefer shopping for their own furniture as they will have more control over the aesthetics as well as the quality. However, others may find it a hassle, and prefer to trust the tastes of their interior designers. No matter which group you belong to, it is an important question to be asked and answered.
What to consider: Note that interior designers may charge an hourly rate for their shopping time. Also, be sure to do a quality check on the furnishing your interior designers picked out for you!
8. "How much time do my project will require and when will you be able to complete it?"
The answer to this question will give you insight to the interior designer's schedule, and decide if he has time for your project or if he is too busy with others. If he has a really tight schedule, it is unlikely he can commit fully to your project.
What to consider: If the interior designer is busy with other projects at the same time, it might also be difficult for you to reach him when you need to.
9. "How do you manage the project budget?"
The designer should have a system in place, for example a spreadsheet that the client has access to. This is so that your interior designer will not overspend the budget you have set. Having a clear budget plan also ensures for the budget to be taken into account when shopping for individual items.
What to consider: The budget plan should be laid out before any purchasing starts – so you and your designer can decide where to put more money and where to cut the budget.
10. "Does this include insurance?"
Your home and possessions should remain insured during the entire duration of the work. Accidents may happen, and even the best designers can sometimes make mistakes. It is a good idea to find out if the designer has professional insurance, and what does it cover, in case there are any unexpected damages to your home.
Looking to spruce up your home? Enjoy $10 off while you are at it!