Some of you may have hired a professional designer or decorator in the past. Some of you are considering it for the first time and many of you have upcoming initial consultations with one. In an effort to minimize any confusion and to make the most out of your time with your home’s new best friend, I would like to take a moment to list a few common things you should know before diving into your next project.
1) Is he/she currently certified, liscensed, insured and/or registered with the state? Many people find that they have a knack for decorating and begin offering their services to others. While you may save money going this route, be aware that this is definitely one of those cases where you get what you pay for. He/she may not have the experience and education required to provide you with the results you want in a timely and desirably manner. Additionally, hiring someone who is not insured is a huge risk to you. If that person is injured while in your home they could sue and win.
2) Talk about fees. At or before your initial consultation your designer should discuss her fees. If she doesn’t, bring this topic up before she leaves that first appointment. You don’t want any surprises later. Make sure you are clear on the following: Is the rate hourly or by the job? When it payment due? Which forms of payment are accepted? Is there a late fee for past due payments?
3) What are your goals for this project? Over the years I have gotten much better at reading clients’ body language to help me understand what they want when they cannot verbalize it. However, this should not be the standard method of communication between designer and client. Before meeting with your designer for the first time make a list, no matter how long or short, of your goals concerning this project. This can include a desired budget, timeline and overall look. I encourage clients to tear pages out of magazines that show colors, styles or items they are inspired by. This will help to make the very most out of your time together.
4) Are you and your spouse on the same page? Again, this is something that should be determined before the designer arrives on the scene but if your wants differ from those of your spouse, a good designer can help bring the two of you together. But know this: we are not marriage counselors. We are here to create a look that compliments your style, needs and budget. If she wants a coastal vibe for the family home and he demands Old World traditional decor, there is only so much I can do. It is awkward to watch a couple bicker in front of me so please discuss your wishes with one another before bringing me in. This is will save everyone time and money and believe it or not, a designer WILL “fire” the client if the job is going nowhere because of this issue.
5) Does my designer have a niche or specific style? Many designers across the globe establish themselves in one niche over the course of their career. This may mean that, while they can do all styles, they are particularly skilled at bringing French Country to life or really prefer doing childrens’ rooms. So why is this important for you to inquire about? If you hire a designer who’s portfolio shines with photos of rustic cabins and outdoor living spaces, you may not be getting someone who ”gets” your style which could be more modern.
6) How many clients does he/she work with at one time? No one ever asks me this and I am surprised by it. I have recently made it common practice to tell each person who inquires about my services that I only work with five clients at any given time. This ensures that each project gets my utmost attention and that I won’t be too busy to assist them with a last-minute or emergency need. With a designer-or any contractor- who overbooks himself the client comes up short changed. Make sure your designer will have the time to deal with any and all needs you require- whether you know about them yet or not.