3 Things you need to know to hire the right designer

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A friend of mine from another state recently bought a new home with her husband and hired an interior designer to make their home beautiful. Unfortunately, after the designer left, Kelly was devastated.  Their house didn’t reflect her or her husband’s tastes at all.

Here’s a snippet of her email…

Why don't designers listen?

I feel her pain. This can be very frustrating, not mention, expensive. It’s not completely surprising though given what people think happens when they hire a design professional.

Here’s what a lot of people think happens… The designer comes in, looks at your house, asks a few questions, and shows you a beautiful design plan. Since the designer is a professional, you do everything you’re told, and in the end, you have that exciting “WOW” moment, when you open the door to your beautifully decorated house and love absolutely everything!  Roll the credits…

Wake up!  This is not HGTV.  It doesn’t work like that. It would be nice if it did, but it doesn’t.

Fabric and Paint Chips
Fabric and Paint Chips for a house I’m currently designing spread out on my table.

Here’s reality. Hiring the right interior designer will save you money and give you a beautiful home you love. It’s true that hiring a professional designer can be intimidating, because, well, they are a professional, but don’t get hung up on that. Keep the following things in mind when selecting a designer, and it will be a little easier.

1.  Every designer has her own style and design philosophy. Make sure you look at their website and portfolio to see if their style appeals to you and is similar to your own sense of style.  Don’t get caught up in all the gorgeous images of beautiful rooms. A designer can be extremely talented and have a beautiful sense of style, but if that style doesn’t speak to you somehow on a personal level, if you don’t see yourself living in the rooms, you haven’t found the right designer for you.

2.  The right designer will listen and take the time to understand your style and tastes. The designer wants you to be happy with their work (that’s how we get referrals), so it behooves them to take the extra time to learn about you. If it doesn’t feel as though the designer is listening to you or is pushing a style you can’t relate to, then you probably haven’t found the right designer.
3.  Designers will do their best to give you a beautiful design plan that you’ll hopefully love for many years. Their job is to help you pull your own ideas together and make them better, or lead you in a different direction that will work for you that hadn’t occurred to you. But don’t be afraid to tell your designer that you don’t like an idea they’ve presented. The right designer will not force anything on you.
You might be wondering what happened with Kelly and her kitchen.  Well, her story actually has a happy ending.  Fortunately, Kelly and her husband bought wood cabinets and had them painted rather buying MDF, so they’ll be able to have them repainted when they can afford it. In the meantime, she’s making her kitchen work with some suggestions I gave her.
Mood Board created to incorporate color in a white kitchen
KettleStoolUtensil CrockRugFabric
I found an inexpensive red, teal and green fabric that I knew she would like, and she fell in love with it.  It suits her quirky retro bold style (her words, not mine), and she’s going to sew some curtains out of it to hang in her kitchen. Plus, I put together an inspiration board for her using the fabric, and now she’s excited about her kitchen again. She loves all the colors. She’s even talking about keeping some of the white cabinets and painting the lowers teal or red. Added bonus, her husband is also happier and not grumbling about the cost of the designer anymore.
Last bit of advice!
Remember:  Just because a designer is a professional, that doesn’t mean you have to accept their ideas as gospel. If you accept a design plan you don’t really like just because the designer is a professional, you’re not going to be happy, so speak up. Designing a home with a professional is a partnership. They need your input in order to make you happy.

So how will you know if you’ve found the right designer?

You’ll know you’ve found the right designer when you feel you’re being listened to, you’re not afraid to speak up, and you get an “ahhhh, I could live there” feeling when looking at her design plan.

What has your experience been with Interior Designers?  Feel free to share any tips you have!

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