How to find your 'perfect interior designer

Written by Jennifer Beattie on Thursday, 23 October 2014. Posted in Homes & Gardens

What is interior design?

Choosing an interior designer

Interior design sometimes also referred to as interior architecture sets out to transform a living environment. The aim is to enhance the living space of a family or business, improve quality of life, productivity and physical and psychological well-being! Picking the right person or interior design company to achieve all this is therefore pretty important.

1 - Finding your perfect interior designer – using past experience?

A little depends on the project you have in mind and your past experience. If you have used a home or commercial interior designer before, stick to who you know. This only becomes problematic when your new project is in another country, far from where your designer normally practices, or your current designer cannot achieve your desired style.

2 - Finding your perfect interior designer – using expert recommendations

Many larger new builds and renovation projects will require the input of a qualified architect or structural engineer. These professionals will have experience of working with a number of designers and will be able to give you some names and recommendations. The added benefit of this is they will already have a pretty good idea of your budget, and will hopefully not recommend someone who is unable to meet the criteria and time constraints.

3 - Finding your perfect interior designer – using your networks

When neither of the above is an option, then the next best thing is word of mouth or referrals from colleagues or neighbours. Certain interior designers specialize in very distinct interior design styles and if you are looking for a home with a particular feature, then it is probably best to approach the designer in question. Qualified Interior Designer

What is the best way of checking the designer’s credentials?

Another important step whether you know the designer (s) or not is to check their credentials and whether or not they are accredited to do the job. Not all designers have accreditation from a recognized interior design school, and this does not necessarily mean that they are unprofessional or inexperienced, often quite the contrary. But if you do not know the designer and do not have any concrete recommendations then checking their accreditations is a very good place to start.

The UK, USA, Canada and Europe all have a Societies dedicated to the advancement of the profession of interior design. Although they operate slightly differently, the basic principles are shared across countries. For example, regularizing the training and competence required by a prospective interior designer, promoting accountability and professionalism within the industry, helping to ensure customer satisfaction and providing professional indemnity insurance. For more details on the respective societies, have a look at the following links.

European Council of Interior Architects

The Society of British and International Design

National Council for Interior Design Qualification

How do you create a short-list of interior designers to interview?

Narrowing down a selection of interior designers is a good idea. But before you start to meet them and review their work you need to reflect a little on how much or how little you wish to be involved in the project. This will be important as your new designer will need to respect this for ‘the relationship’ to work. A large renovation or new build can be stressful for the uninitiated so a good working understanding is vital from the offset. The following questions should help to guide your thinking.

What sort of person are you and how much do you want to be involved?

  • Are you hands on?
  • Do you prefer to be involved in the minutia of the daily design decisions and changes?
  • Do you have a good idea of what you want and just need the designer to help you execute these ideas?
  • Are you good at taking decisions if presented with a choice?
  • Do you need the designer to present you with options?
  • Can you imagine how everything will look, or do you need to actually visualize it?
  • How good are you at working in a team or with others?
  • Do you prefer to hand the project over to someone and only return once it is complete?
The answers to these questions are of course dictated to a little by your budget and also by the amount of time you have available to manage any ongoing projects. But answering them honestly will help you and your future interior designer understand each other.

Interior Design

How do you conduct a successful interview with your prospective new designer?

Most productive interviews involve a two way discussion and the designer’s questions to you will rapidly indicate if they are experienced and able to handle the job you have in mind. Try and cover the following themes and organise your questioning around them.

  • Previous jobs/size and scope.
  • Working to time schedules.
  • Charging structure and budget management.
  • Use of interior design software versus hand drawn sketches/renderings.
  • Involvement of third parties, painters, plasterers etc.
  • Project management details.
  • Insurance and guarantees.
The successful candidate will be able to answer most of your questions and should be unperturbed by budget constraints and time schedules as these tend to be a movable feast anyway! But they should be asking searching questions regarding the use of your space, your family set up, your ideal deadline and the extent to which you wish to be involved in the project. It is also their job to assess whether they could realistically work with you, especially if it is likely to be a long term relationship.

How to make the final decision about which interior designer to engage?

You must feel confident that your designer can deliver and therefore due diligence is as important as the interview. So do try to check all their references and credentials before you engage them, it could invariably save you a lot of stress and money.

About the Author

Jennifer Beattie

Jennifer Beattie is the freelance journalist for FD Platinum. With lots of experience of moving and relocating nationally and internationally, Jennifer has personal and professional knowledge of the issues involved. She aims to provide up to date and accurate information on topics of importance to the industry.