How To Choose an Interior Designer Tuesday, July 07 2015

Choosing an interior designer can be a stressful decision.  One's home is usually their largest investment and where most of the time is spent.  We want our homes to be comfortable for us as well as to reflect the sort of style sensibility that makes us unique.  How can you know that you're placing your trust in the right person?  Eek!   We've gathered some tips to help you make a decision on who to hire (hint: it's not always us).

First, Determine your design style

Do you fancy fresh white linens blowing in a breeze, or low-slung Italian leather sofas?  Do you like crystal chandeliers ,or nickel plated pendants?  Do you enjoy a formal dining area, or a more colorful and casual one?  Take the time to do your research on what it is you enjoy before starting any remodeling or revamping project.  Websites like www.houzz.com and www.pinterest.com make this a breeze.  Also, the old-fashioned cuttings from design magazines works great too.  At edenLA Interiors, we actually make that a prerequisite to starting any work.  It's that important.  You have to know what you want before someone can help you achieve it.

Check out some portfolios

Once you have some insight into your own tastes, you can search for designers in your area and check out their portfolios online.  Almost everyone has their portfolio online these days, so you can "shop" for a designer who has done work you enjoy.

Follow up on Referral Leads

Referrals are our favorite type of new client interview.  If we've worked with someone for a long time and enjoyed it, we almost always enjoy working with those clients' best friends and neighbors.  Birds of a feather certainly flock together.  If your best friend loved working with someone for her home, you will probably have good rapport with her too.

The Interview!

When you initially interview designers for your project, the importance of effective communication (Flow!) cannot be understated.  Everyone has different styles of communicating.   What's important is how effective each person's style is for each other.  If a designer doesn't seem to be listening to you, or at least you don't feel like he or she is understanding you, then look elsewhere.  We designers do the same thing.  We choose who to work with based on who we feel we can do beautiful work for.  If we can't understand your vision or don't particularly enjoy the rapport, we'll pass on the job.  It's better for everyone.  Listening is key.  So choose a designer that listens to you, and that you want to listen to as well.

When interviewing with an interior designer, be sure to communicate your expectations regarding the scope, timeline, and budget of the project.  And then listen to their feedback regarding said.  Ask deliberate questions about their fee structure, and the designer's idea of the timeline as well.

Questions the designer should be asking YOU

Before we even begin working with someone we send them out an entire questionnaire to be returned before our interview together.  A designer should be taking time to ask investigative questions in order to make more effective choices for your lifestyle.  He or she might not have a formal questionnaire, but they certainly should be asking basic questions like:

How often do you entertain and how many people?  Number of pets and indoor behaviors?  Same with children? 

What hobbies do you pursue outside the house that we should accommodate (if not reflect in décor)? 

What colors do you love?  Which are odious to you?  Etc. 

It's this sort of "fact finding" that allows a designer A: to know more about you to decide if your desires, ideals, and expectations are all in alignment, and also B: to know if he or she is going to be able to do the best possible work for you.

Designers to Avoid

There's a designer for everyone out there, no matter your tastes, temperament, and budget.  That being said, two types of designers that I've seen time and again fail their clients are:  The Yes Man and The Nazi. 

The Yes Man agrees with all of your suggestions and doesn't steer you away from potential problems that won't look right or function properly.  This type of designer offers absolutely no value to your project.  The main reason to hire a professional is to avoid expensive errors, and to take what you want and give it to you even better than you knew it could be.  We reach into our vast storehouse of experience and tell you about options you weren't aware of, or steer you away from potential disaster.

The Nazi is the opposite.   The Nazi won't let you have any say in your home because THEY are the designer and THEY know much better than measly you about your home.  Not cool.  They make you feel bad about what you want and they make the process of redecorating much more stressful than needs be.   Highly recommended to avoid.

Going Forward

Check out the web and pin some pages, get your lookbook together, and ask around to friends and neighbors what their experiences were like with their designers.  The web has tons of portfolios for you to check out, as well as reviews on yelp.  Also, in the meantime you can check out our e-design services if you're not Los Angeles and need some help.  Great luck!http://edenla.com/pages/e-design