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Part 4: What to Discuss with your Designer When You're Ready to Start Your Project

January 6, 2023
designer giving presentation

Welcome to Part 4 of our series on How to Have A Great Interior Design Experience! Before you jump into this week’s topic, make sure you check out Parts 1, 2, and 3!

Now that you have chosen a designer, your next step in the process will be to discuss your wants and needs with your designer, to ensure they are well equipped to accurately plan your project. They will have a list of questions for you to make sure they fully understand your vision, and thankfully, the majority of them will be related to questions you have already answered for yourself in Part 2!

1.) Who is the design for, and what do they need?

Your designer will choose different pieces, fabrics, and floor coverings based on the needs of the specific areas. If you have a large dog who likes to run around the house a lot, a velvet sofa or silk rugs probably won’t be a good fit for you. If you throw a lot of parties, you’ll likely be better off investing in performance fabrics, so items are stain resistant. Making sure your designer is aware of how you will use the items and spaces in your home is essential to ensuring they create a design that fits those needs. 

2.) What is your timeline, and is there any flexibility?

Make sure your designer knows up front if you have any drop-dead dates that need to be considered, or if you have some flexibility in your delivery. They will need to take special care to source items according to whatever timeline you set. 

3.) What are you able to invest in the project?

Don’t forget, when you think about what your budget is for your design, you’ll need to add anywhere from 10-25% on top of that number to account for design fees, storage costs, and other unforeseen costs. If this number isn’t feasible for you, you’ll want to reassess your priorities and discuss the possibility of completing the design in phases. 

You’ll also want to ask your designer a few questions so you fully understand their process and all parties are in alignment with how the project will progress. Here are a few questions you’ll want to make sure you know before you sign any contracts. 

1.) What is the designer’s process?

a.) Does the designer give regular progress updates, or are they basically silent until it’s time to present the design?

b.) How does the designer charge for their work, i.e. is it a flat fee, an hourly rate, or a combination of both?

c.) Will the designer be acting as the retailer for all purchased goods, or will you be doing product purchasing on your own?

2.) What is the designer’s general timeline?

All projects will vary slightly in scope and timeline, but it’s a good idea to have an understanding ahead of time of when you can expect to receive concept and design presentations, and to know what deadlines you’ll need to meet as far as concept and purchasing approvals to ensure that date does not get pushed back. 

3.) What is the designer’s payment schedule?

Make sure you know when payments are required to be made, and mark them on your calendar. Delaying payments to your designer for any reason can cause delays and other interruptions to the process, as most designers will stop working on your project if payment is not received on time.