Working With an Interior Design Consultant

The key to successful collaboration is communication.

Posted by Linda Merrill | May 05, 2010
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Interior design consultants and decorators spend years learning about architectural history, space planning, color theory, textiles and the myriad of other aspects of interior design. In addition, a professional interior design consultant brings hands-on experience to the table. We've seen it all: furniture that doesn't fit well, colors that fade... When a homeowner makes the decision to hire an interior designer, he is buying more than just creativity; he is buying years of experience and on-the-job training. So, it only makes sense for the client to make the best use of the interior design consultant with whom he has chosen to work.

Compatibility

Working with a designer on your home improvement project is a two-way street. From the very beginning, open and frank conversation must take place. When you hire a designer, you want to find someone whose work and personality you like. You will be working closely with this person for a period of time; he will be in your home and often privy to personal conversations between you and your family. Therefore, personality and discretion are as important as education and skill. You need to have total trust that your interior design consultant will manage your project and your investment well.

Expectations

Independent interior designers offer a myriad of design services, from paint and color consultations to full-on home remodeling and project management. When a project starts, the first thing is to clearly discuss and document (via a contract) the scope of the project and the expectations of both the client and the designer. The contract or letter of agreement should spell out not only the scope of service, the budget and agreed-upon fees, but also the estimated timeframes and any other details pertinent to the project.

Communication

One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about interior designers is that we want to impose our taste onto the client without taking his or her desires into consideration. This really couldn't be further from the truth. Most designers truly want the absolute best for their clients, and we have to rely on the client to be open and honest with his desires. The client should never hesitate to say what he likes and what he doesn't. As the project moves forward, both parties should communicate with one another in a timely manner.

Home renovating and decorating projects are all about timing. Entire projects can be put on hold if a delayed decision holds up an important order. For larger projects, the designer should also be in regular contact with any contractors or architects that the client may have brought in. This is a team effort and all parties should be in regular communication from the very earliest planning stages.

From beginning to end of the relationship, the interior design consultant is your partner in the success of your project. Trust in his judgment, but never be afraid to express your own wishes. With honest and open communication, in the end, you will have a beautiful space that you will enjoy for years to come.

Want to know how to hire an interior designer? Read this. You'll have to figure his fees into your general renovation budget.

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