Every designer has a crazy story about that one nightmare client who drove them up the wall. Maybe they were rude to the painters and installers, quibbled over agreed-upon billing, or just couldn’t make up their minds. Though you’re not likely to go down in a designer’s history book as one of those types, many small infractions—which could turn into major setbacks—can be easily avoided with some candid feedback from the pros.
FWIW! Don’t tiptoe around the final product. “Enjoy every piece. Entertain. Let the kids play in the living room. Live in your beautiful new home!” —Kim Scodro
Just as you’re looking for the perfect designer, they are looking for the right fit too, which means first impressions definitely count. Knowing what you’re willing to spend can go a long way. As does respect—for your designer’s time and talent, of course, but also for the employees they bring into your home. Can you roll with the punches when one of the hundreds of items they’ve ordered for you gets damaged or delayed? (Likelihood: high.)
The design process is nuanced, but designers are happy to show you the way. The bottom line? “Be honest,” counsels Portland designer Max Humphrey. For a few more good rules of thumb, follow the blue cards (and avoid falling in the red).
Heads Up! On those early phone calls, the designer is interviewing you too.
Hot Tip! If a designer charges by the hour, ask how many hours they anticipate the project will take. An hourly rate and flat fee can be deceiving when you’re comparing designers “fee structures.” —Meg Lonergan
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you hire a designer. You want to be totally sure on all three questions before advancing. Game, set, match!
1. Have you ever pinned their work?
“Don’t approach the designer if you find that their work is not in alignment with your aesthetic, hoping that they’ll adjust to your style.” —Justin Q. Williams
“When the designer’s ideas do not resonate with the client, it’s best for the client to move on—even if you get along beautifully on a personal level.”—Joy Rondello
2. Do you want to get a drink with them?
“Like any other relationship, it all starts with chemistry. If there’s something that’s missing, maybe it’s a sign that the pairing is just not a good fit.”—Eche Martinez
“If you find that you don’t get along personally, chances are that feeling will only become worse as you continue to work together.” —Justin Q. Williams
3. Would you trust them with your kids?
“If someone has awards and a ton of press and a great reputation, that can help your level of trust. But put all that aside, and it has a lot to do with instinct.”—Nicole Fuller
“When a client is out doing the work themselves—shopping independently, contacting vendors behind the designer’s back—it’s not working out.”—Meg Lonergan
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