The thought of working with an interior decorator can seem daunting. Follow these basic steps and your experience will be satisfying, meet your expectations and, hopefully, take you on an adventure that translates what you love into how you live.
Step 1: Find an interior decorator.
To find an interior decorator, you can start by searching local listings. Ask for referrals from related home decor companies like paint stores, furniture stores, realtors, property management companies, home builders and developers. Search websites and narrow down potentials based on experience, project profiles, before and after photos, design philosophy, etc. And lastly, don’t forget to ask your friends and colleagues if they know of a good decorator. A positive referral goes a long way.
Step 2: Make a list of questions to ask your potential decorator.
During the hiring process, it is as important to learn about the decorator’s design experience as it is to learn whether your personalities complement each other’s. Designing someone’s home is very personal, after all. It is also important to understand the “housekeeping details” – the billing structure and how the design process works. Here are some questions to ask:
- What is your design approach? This gives insight into the communication style and how they will uncover necessary information.
- What are the steps in the design process? Knowing this helps you understand the project’s timeline, as well as the services and expertise provided.
- How do you bill for your time? It is good to understand upfront how you will be billed.
- Who are some of your top resources for furniture, paint, flooring, lighting, etc.? This provides hints to how adept the decorator is at finding the right product at the right price point. It also alludes to quality expectations.
- What have other clients said about you? Client satisfaction can speak volumes.
Step 3: Do your homework.
Once you have found an interior decorator, you have some homework to do before the first planning meeting. Make a list of your project goals, determine your budget, and clip photos of sample designs that reflect your style / the look and feel you want to achieve. Start thinking about answers to questions the decorator will ask about your tastes and preferences, per the room/rooms to be decorated. Colors, finishes, textures, patterns, window coverings and design styles all will come into play. You should also take a furniture inventory that includes what stays and what goes.
The Boy/Girl Scout Rule: Be Prepared
The more prepared you are during the project orientation and goal-setting stages, the more likely the design and implementation phases will flow smoothly, with enhanced communication and less room for misunderstandings.
When all is said and done [and decorated!], the mark of a good decorator-client experience is one where the clients have learned to better recognize their own style, have collaborated on a finished space that is truly them and, hopefully, had a little fun along the way.