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The 6 Real Questions You Should Ask an Interior Designer

You may be thinking about hiring a professional full-service interior designer. After all, a pro can create a beautiful, functional space in much less time and with less stress and heartache than most people could do on their own. 


Sure, you can scour Pinterest and daydream about the fabulous rooms you see. But creating something similar in your own home? It feels impossible, especially when you consider the millions of options available and the fact that just because something looks beautiful doesn’t mean it will work in your house with your existing pieces and elements. 


Don’t feel bad! Designing a space that meets your functional and aesthetic goals, all while staying on budget AND feeling confident that your choices are, in fact, ones you will love forever, is not an easy feat for most people. 


Interior designers, on the other hand, have access to a multitude of resources and can put together a cohesive vision that meets all of your goals AND will withstand the test of time. Simply put, when you hire a designer, you are hiring an expert to solve your problem.


There are many benefits of working with a professional full-service interior designer. We have extensive expertise and knowledge that allow us to hone in on solving unique design challenges. We have access to a vast range of products not available to homeowners, and we have connections to reliable contractors and skilled tradespeople. 


When it comes to hiring a full-service interior designer, you will likely have a myriad of ideas about how the whole process will unfold. So you can be an informed consumer — and to ensure an effective working relationship with your chosen interior designer — it’s important to ask the right questions.


While your interior designer should know and be upfront about the project costs, billing and payment terms, and project timelines, there are a few key questions I think are the most important to ask your interior designer to better understand what the collaborative process will really be like



What’s your design process? How much time does each part of the process take?

This question is critical to understand what to expect as you move forward working with an interior designer. Although most designers follow a similar process, it is important for you to understand your designer’s particular progression from initial ideas through completed space.


You can learn more about what to expect when you work with Forty Nine Interiors in this blog post.



Have you done a project like mine before?

Make sure your type of project and end goals are in alignment with the services your interior designer offers. Some designers specialize in kitchen and bath remodels, others concentrate on furnishings-only projects. Some may only do new construction projects, but not remodels. 


At Forty Nine Interiors, we specialize in furnishing projects as well as kitchen and bathroom renovations and our favorite projects to design are where we can make great functional impact. We love improving our clients’ lives.


How will we communicate throughout the project? How frequently will I hear from you?

You don’t want to feel left in the dark at any time during your project: why isn’t my interior designer calling me? Is anything happening? Are they even working on my project? 

These thoughts can be very anxiety-provoking and in my experience with our clients, it’s more often that “no news is good news”. But, you’ll want to make sure you understand the interior designer’s process and key milestones so you aren’t worried if you don’t hear from them during a certain phase. Once you know their process, you’ll have a full understanding of all the things they’re doing behind the scenes to keep your project on track.


Another important thing to be aware of is your preferred communication style and your designer’s. If you prefer phone calls but email is how your interior designer and their team communicate best, you may need to adjust your expectations OR find a designer who is readily available via phone.


You’ll also want to know who you’ll be in contact with throughout your project. Is the interior designer the main person you’ll reach out to if you have questions? Or, is there a designated support person at their office who will handle a majority of communication so nothing gets missed?


At Forty Nine Interiors, we pride ourselves on our proactive communication. By providing weekly email updates during the management phase, our clients always know what to expect and we are able to minimize surprises and delays.


What if I don't like the design you come up with?

The reality is that experienced interior designers are very well-versed in collecting all the right information from you to help ensure the design concept will be perfectly aligned with what you are hoping for (and, maybe exceed what you are expecting!). They know the right questions to ask, how to spot patterns among your inspiration images, and how to distill everything you tell them into a design that is custom-suited to your needs and wants.


But there may be instances when a designer misses the mark just a bit. And you want what you want, right?! So make sure to understand your designer’s process for revising the design concept, or making re-selections of items that just don’t resonate with you. There should be a workable and efficient process in place if you are not 100% happy with what your designer proposes.


At Forty Nine Interiors, we want you to love your design and that’s why we spend so much time during the onboarding phase of each project to truly understand each client’s style. Then, once they’ve seen the design at presentation, there will be a dedicated revision period specific to the service booked. During the revision phase, our clients are able to request changes so we can make new selections that work with the other design elements.


 

Before we finish this post, we want to share a few questions we don’t think are as important to ask your designer because they don’t really delve into the actual design process over the months or years it takes to complete a complex project. Here are a few of them.


What’s your style?

This may not be a pertinent question. It is likely you reached out to a particular designer because the photos on their website resonated with you. You loved the spaces and rooms in their portfolio of work (you may not even know why!)


Designers always design with their clients’ personal style, needs, and desires in mind. But each designer does have his or her own aesthetic preferences and personal vibe. If you liked what you saw on their website, there is already a match, and that designer can create a signature space just for you. 


At Forty Nine Interiors, our signature style is transitional eclectic. We love timeless design with unique features that reflect our clients’ personalities, whether it is incorporating existing treasurers or helping curate them.


Where did you go to school?

This may not be an important question to ask, as there are many avenues available to designers to become a qualified interior designer, including various educational pathways, apprenticeships, internships, and on-the-job training. If the images on a designer’s website resonate with you, you have a comfortable rapport, and you’re impressed with the designer’s process and working style, those factors are likely far more important than their educational background. 


For details on how Forty Nine Interiors came to be, head over to our About page to learn about my background and experience in the industry. 


 

If you are considering hiring an interior designer and have enjoyed learning about our design process, we’d love to hear from you. The first step in our process is to submit a Project Inquiry here or book a Welcome Call here Then, we’ll be in touch with more information.

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