So you have decided to hire a designer. Now a day’s it’s easier than ever. All you have to do is just Google and get started. But wait, is it really that simple? Before you start to call a bunch of them first page designers, pause, and ask yourself this,
Are you a good candidate to work with an interior designer?
Well, after years of meeting people who want to hire an interior designer, we think we might have answer for your question.
And the answer is - If you are a person that likes to “delegate” what you don’t have time for and if you can “choose” you might benefit from working with a designer. What we mean when we say if you can choose is your ability to finalize and take decisions in fair amount of time. One quality which designers do not want to see in you is Indecisiveness. You should be able to trust your designer to curate and present the perfect ideas once they get to know you.
So, if you think you can delegate and choose, go ahead and hire a designer. Our guide will help you decide on how to select a perfect partner for designing your dream space.
1. Know what you Want?
Getting a dream space that motivates you to become a person you want to be is not just about furnishing your home, but it is also about how the whole place is optimized and the overall design and color of the space makes you feel. So, if you think such a design is important and when you decide to choose a professional to do that for you, it is imperative to understand them. The first thing you might want to check is how much your designer’s design philosophy and style resonates with your own. To check this you can go through their portfolio/recent work to decide about the compatibility. If you find the most suitable professional who reflects your personality, end of the day it will all be worth it. In another case, if you have other clear preferences over design and feel; perhaps you can get your furnishing job done by a contractor.
2. Know your Preferences and Set up a Meeting
Be clear about your budget, your requirements, timelines as well as your preferred interior design style (See: 10 Most Popular Interior Design Styles). You can go a step further and search for your preferred looks on internet and keep the visuals ready before you meet your designer. Once you are clear about your own preferences, you will need to try and set up at least one personal meeting with your designer in their office for initial consultation and discussion. Before you do this, make sure you have checked their website and gone through the portfolios to understand if a designer is suitable to fulfill your requirement and resonates with your style.
An initial meeting at the designer’s office should be preferred over a meeting at your place for many reasons. Meeting your designer at their office establishes the authenticity of their business and process. It’s their workplace, so it is a perfect place for discussion where they can present the ideas with relevant technological support, samples and mood boards etc.
You can bring your layout plan, videos and photographs of the property to discuss the specifics about your requirement and expectations. At this stage, you are most likely to get an estimate as per your brief. If you are clear about your budget and requirement, your designer can even devise a perfect plan to help you move ahead in the process to close the deal sooner.
3. Understand what a “Site Visit” is
A site visit is an important stage in interior planning. The purpose of a site visit is to take down exact measurements and to inspect the condition of property to decide how much repairs etc. are needed before the actual design work commences. A renovation work or an old property has more purpose for site visit at initial stages for understanding specific requirements than a new property. In most cases, site visit often marks the initiation of execution starting with detailed site survey and measurements which takes a great deal of time and effort depending upon the size of site and scope of work.
Most of the clients still insist on ‘site visit’ for the first meeting which are often chargeable. More often, such ‘site visits’ are not advisable for understanding initial requirements and providing estimates as some people think they are necessary for. If such a meeting is planned, often, it will not involve taking down any measurements or detailed survey or even discussion of the specifics if you have not finalized any real deal with the designer. Mostly, it proves to be a wrong tool if your intention is just to convey your requirements to designer for an estimate. Furthermore, providing an accurate quotation/BOQ at this stage and before finalization of any design plan is not possible, due to the lack of clarity about the exact efforts, materials and their respective quantities that will go into your design plan.
A professional interior designer will always plan a ‘site visit’ at a later stage as the first phase of their design and execution, after the client has confirmed and finalized them for interior work. Doing so will avoid all the unnecessary hassle and extra cost associated with such visits.
4. Estimate V/s BOQ
It is understandable that you might need clarity on financials before you choose a designer to work with. But first, you need to know the difference between an estimate and a BOQ and how they work in an interior plan and process.
In interior design, there is a huge amount of different types of works that are involved and scope of work is often overwhelming. Designers do have their own methods to breakdown and categorize each work with its specification and quantities, but it needs to be customized and reorganized for each individual client and project. It takes a great deal of time and scrutiny to come up with something called “Billing of Quantities” or a BOQ (or Quotation in day-to-day language). You will need to understand that preparing a BOQ requires one to have exact clarity and figures about the materials and their quantities. All kinds of rates that are involved in preparing this document need to be reconfirmed and lots of quotes are solicited before mentioning final rates in a BOQ that is submitted to you. It often requires days or weeks to come up with an accurate BOQ before it can be submitted with a limited validity period, considering the risk of ever changing rates and prices.
In a hierarchy of interior design and execution process, a BOQ is always provided only after design plan with materials and their quantities have been approved. The design process itself involves preparing a number of 2D and 3D layouts and documents and needs a significant amount of time, effort and cost which obviously cannot be initiated before you have finalized a designer or agency for your interior work or pay up the fees pertaining to this design process.
So, how do you get a fair idea of what budget you might incur into your interiors?
In most of the cases, experienced designers are capable to arrive at a fairly accurate estimate by taking into account the total area and scope of work. At this stage, your designer can suggest various types of materials and can run through mood boards as per your budget and requirement to arrive at a more accurate figures.
Once you are happy with the estimate, you can release the advance or fees as specified by designer and your designer can then plan to proceed with the site visit and measurements.
5. Know Your Designer and Authenticity of their Business
Finding a perfect professional designer is not as easy as you might think. Sure, some can get help from their friends and family to find one by reference, they may not reflect your style although easy to trust. Others simply turn to internet as we do for everything. Quite often you come across more than a few that you think are suitable, but don’t know how to compare and check the authenticity. Well here are some guidelines to help.
When it comes to checking the authenticity, just talking to the person about your requirement is not enough to know if they are suitable professionals to carry out your project as per planning on time and hassle free. First thing to check is whether the firm has proper written process laid out for clients to maintain the transparency, and if this process is followed properly. How much this process is being tweaked for you to close the deal? A little bit of alignment and adjustment of the process is fine, but too much of providing free services, or show-off or commitments should be alarming. It is advisable to check their online presence through website and social media, visiting their office, getting to know the person who will be responsible and answerable to you throughout your project and asking how long they have been with the agency, are some of the things you can do to understand and ensure your dream space is planned and executed smoothly on time.
Ideally, a small agency which has a design portfolio which matches your style, and has been in business for quite a reasonable amount of time, with more personalized approach can take all the hassle out of the continuous co-ordination process of interior designing.
It is quite obvious that a designer who has a physical office in vicinity with expert teams and vendors (mostly reputed brand companies) and an impressive sample library can provide a better service and are easily reachable than a free-lancer or some outstation agency that might lack these. They also tend to have proper processes and policies (design, approvals, selection, payment, warranties etc.) laid out to help their clients navigate their way through the overwhelming stages of interior design and execution that shows their experience and capabilities in the business.
6. One-point Solution
One thing that clients often look for in a design agency is the support in getting all the solutions at a single point. It is also very important that the agency you have finalized provides you with all the services and help that you might need to complete your interior project. It is possible that some of the work may be/kept out of the scope of your project for reasons understandable, but as a client you are entitled to at least get a proper advice and assistance from your designer so that things can be completed on time.
7. Quality and Brands
It is also important to know the quality and brands that your designer will use. Of course, it also depends on your budget, but many designers like to maintain a minimum level of quality. Even if you have budget concern, they can advise you about the most efficient allocation of funds so as to not compromise on certain materials and brands, as they have to provide warranties on their work apart from the manufacturer certificates. Working with the reputed brands also ensures uninterrupted supply of materials on time which helps avoid delays in completion of work as opposed to sourcing materials from general market. So, apart from quality assurance designers can offer other benefits of their tie-ups and direct sourcing from the reputed brands to you.
Turning a dream space into reality is not easy. A little homework and knowledge of what to look for in your designer before you finalize one, can go a long way in saving your valuable time, effort and money. Also, don’t forget to know your preferences and requirements with great amount of clarity before you set out to search for the perfect professional for yourself.