How Do I Choose a Good Interior Designer?
Choosing the right interior designer can be a big decision. Interior design projects can take a lot of time and money and affect the value of your home. You also need to live in your home every day, and a design that doesn’t work for you can be a constant source of distraction and annoyance.
While every design project is different, and everyone has their own specific needs, here is an overview of how to find and choose the right interior designer for your home.
Identify Your Interior Design Style and Project Needs
Begin by identifying your project needs and scope. Are you remodeling a kitchen or converting a home office? Do you want an entirely new redesign or simply to update and refresh aspects of your decor? Do you have specific challenges in your space, like the need for lots of storage, solving accessibility problems, or structural changes?
Think through your specific interior design goals and requirements, and consider your preferred time frame and project budget. While these factors may evolve over time, it’s best to start with an idea in mind.
Then consider the design style (or styles) you prefer. Create a Pinterest board or photo folder where you gather up images of rooms, styles, furnishings, and color palettes you like. When you are researching styles, try to identify what specifically it is you like about the decor you are looking at. Is it fun, playful, luxurious, casual, welcoming, elegant, cheerful, sleek, or comfortable? How do you want to feel in the space?
Find and Research Interior Designers
After you have an idea of your project parameters and desired outcome, it’s time to start finding potential designers.
For most interior design projects, you will want to work with a designer who is located near you or who can easily visit your home in person. Location is especially important for full-service interior design, where the designer will be coordinating purchasing, demo and construction crews, and installation and finishing of the project.
If you can’t find the right fit for you in your local area, feel free to expand your search. A good designer has a range of solutions and services, and it’s more important to find the right match than to find a designer in your area.
Evaluate and Compare Portfolios
Once you have identified a handful of candidate designers, evaluate and compare their work. Here are the three key factors to consider when choosing an interior designer:
- What services do they offer? Are they interior designers or interior decorators? Are they a full-service firm that will guide the project through to completion, or a firm that will deliver a floor plan and shopping list and have you do the rest?
- Do you like their existing body of work? Review their portfolio, especially their “before and after” images. As you look at their work and projects, you should like what you see. While professional interior designers work on a range of projects for different clients, so you may not like everything in their portfolio, you should like their overall style and approach. There should be at least one or two projects in their portfolio that you really like and are excited about.
- What is their process and design philosophy? An interior designer’s website and portfolio will also describe how they approach projects, how they solve problems, and how they work with clients. Every interior designer has their own style and philosophy, so look for an approach that appeals to you.
Check Credentials and Reviews
Interior design is not a very well-regulated industry, which means that people can offer interior design services without specific training or experience. In Texas, interior designers can be registered with the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners, which requires that interior designers either pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam or present proof that they are licensed in another state.
However, there are no federal guidelines for interior design licensure or certification, and only three US states require registration in order for someone to practice. In other states, like Texas, registration is voluntary, and there is no education or exam requirement before selling interior design services.
When you are evaluating an interior designer for your home, therefore, you can’t always rely on a formal process to make sure they are qualified. Instead, here are some of the elements to look for and consider:
- Registration or licensure. Even if it’s voluntary, being registered is a good sign that the designer complies with national standards.
- Professional organizations. Are they a member of professional organizations like the American Society of Interior Designers?
- While not a requirement, reviewing their formal education is a good idea.
- How long have they been in business, and do you like their portfolio?
- Accolades. Have they been recognized by other designers, professional organizations, or media outlets?
- Reviews and testimonials. Finally, reviews and testimonials are a great way to get a feel for what working with the interior designer is really like.
Set Up a Consultation
After you have identified one or more of your top choices, schedule a consultation. Having a meeting or real-time conversation is the best way to determine whether you and your interior designer are a good match for personality and communication style. It also allows you to have preliminary conversations about the project schedule and budget to see if it’s the right fit.
Trust Your Instincts
Ultimately, the best way to choose a good interior designer is to trust your instincts. While doing research and making comparisons is a smart way to get informed and perform due diligence, finding the right fit for your project often comes down to intangibles like how you feel about the designer and how you feel about their work. Don’t be afraid to trust yourself and choose what you like.
If you want to know more about J.Fisher Interiors and whether we are the right choice for your interior design project, schedule a consultation today.
J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!