Subscribe or Renew Membership Subscribe Renew

Choosing an Interior Designer

mtk1's picture

I need a professional interior design/update for my home. I have a list of three ASID designers but don't know what to ask them to try to pick one for my project. Does anyone have any suggestions about what I should ask and/or how to choose a designer?

(post #175851, reply #1 of 13)

This is a great question and one I have wondered about myself.  I look forward to the answers you get.


(post #175851, reply #2 of 13)

Be up front about saying you want to find a designer you can work with, check out their portfolio, listen to your gut about whether or not you can work with this person.

Think about what's important to you--sticking to a budget, being creative, listening/interpreting your ideas, whatever--when you check references, and you should check references, ask a question or two about those things that are important to you.





(post #175851, reply #3 of 13)

I also look forward to thoughts/suggestions on this topic.   Interview is a must & learn how designer plans to earn her money.  Currently traveling this path for new home and hoping all will work out well.  Too soon to know!  I did obtain a couple of referrals. 

This designer works by the hour with initial tour (no cost) of current home to identify furniture needs/discards, etc.  Had a 2 hr tour (fee incurred) of a large home furnishings store in order for her to better identify what styles I find appealing.  At end of session, I do hope I was not too chatty!

Following our shopping expedition, in another store I found a leather sofa on sale which I consider right for our new home.  She viewed & indicated same price was always available at store she works with.  Now I worry might this be discontinued & then faced with paying more monies?  At present she is on vacation for a couple of week.

Am anxious to move on to color scheme for rooms.  She indicates the dining room maple hutch needs to be updated...suggests a wire top over the base.  Not certain this is the way I wish to go as room is large enough for a server, etc.

She did review floor plans & made a couple of good suggestions which we will follow thru.  In addition, she identified a formal sofa which will not fit into new home & asked me to price it for her to re-sell to another client. 

I first interviewed another designer in her workplace which at the end, she asked me what I wanted to do?  Needless to say, at end of session, if she had listened, all should have been clear that I needed help in making a few changes in furniture, color blending with fabrics, etc.  I did provide the 2nd & current designer a list of what I viewed as "needs to be done". 

Do hope my experience will be of use to you.  Appreciate your sharing your findings!


(post #175851, reply #4 of 13)

I interviewed several before choosing although I did it rather hap-hazardly! All were recommended by friends. I vetoed the one that agreed with me 100%--I wanted new ideas in addition to my own. I vetoed one who didn't listen carefully to what I said. Both were paid for their time.

The one I chose was great. She listened to my ideas, paid attention to how we live in the house, knew we were going to do the majority of work ourselves, but was available for inspiration, advise and samples. She gave me excellent feedback and great ideas, helped me with colors and materials.

(post #175851, reply #5 of 13)

That sounds like it worked out well for you!  Keep us updated on your progress.  Enquiring minds want to know :)


"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

(post #175851, reply #7 of 13)

Well it IS an ongoing saga. We did everything up until the kitchen and then DH put the skids on. Yes, the kitchen would take a lot more work (new countertops and floor along with painting), but the house looks--well, unfinished. It's been about 18 months with two color schemes and samples laying about. I'm a patient individual, but my limit is about met!

(post #175851, reply #8 of 13)

annie:  I know what you mean, we have been redoing our bathroom in the same way.  All the components are sitting in my den!

Have you ever resurfaced porcelain for a sink or tub?  Our tub is original to the house (1954) and is in good shape except for the floor of it.   Our kitchen sink is a double with one sink over 12 inches deep.  I can't find anything I like better in the new stuff out there, so I would like to have a new surface put on the old one.  Any ideas?


"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

(post #175851, reply #9 of 13)

Mimi: Sorry, we've never resurface one, but I know I've read about it in one of the threads here...I just don't remember which one. I know it's doable, but am unaware of the amount of work involved or its durability. Good luck if you do end up doing that!

(post #175851, reply #11 of 13)

I have had a a tub and two laundry sinks refinished in the Seattle area. The finish looked awesome and came with a five year warranty. They have held up well for the first two years. I cannot say how they will hold up for the long haul.

The finisher prepared the surface with an ecthing compund, then filled holes and divots in the finish with bondo and finished by shooting around ten coats of finish (not sure what the product was) with a HVLP system.

Handed me a Kohler color chart for selection of finish by my client and designer.



Wood is Good

Adam Greisz


Wood is Good Adam Greisz<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />  

(post #175851, reply #12 of 13)

Thanks for your reply!  You gave me a good description of what was done.  I hate to rip out a perfectly good tub just because the bottom does not look new.  I have a feeling the removal would not be easy, since it is in such a small bathroom.  We just retiled the bathroom a few years ago and taking out the tub would mean ripping out a lot of new tiles.


"All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

(post #175851, reply #6 of 13)

With many store designers offering their services free of charge, I have often wondered how these designers compare to those who charge for services?  I chose to go the "pay" route in order that I would not find myself locked into a particular line of furniture, fabrics, etc.

Hopefully there will be some intuitive designers who will provide more input for us.  Afterall, this subject may be their bread & butter.


(post #175851, reply #10 of 13)

I've never hired an interior designer, but as an engineer in industry I've hired lots of employees and contractors in my 20+ years so far.  So here are some thoughts that may help.

You are looking for someone with several qualities.  First, they have to get along with you.  Second, they have to be able to design to your taste and style.  Third, they have to stay within your budget.  Fourth, they have to be generally competent.

To judge the first, the best way is an interview.  You could screen half a dozen on the telephone then follow up with a face to face interview with a couple.  A conversation about anything, even small talk, can be revealing.  Some conversation starters include asking about experience, education, favorite styles, how well they liked previous clients, especially interesting past jobs, past jobs that didn't go well and how they handled them, have they had difficult clients and how did they cope.

As for style and taste there is no substitute to seeing past work with your own eyes.  Different people have different taste and standards of quality, so references from others are not so reliable for this.  The designer should have a portfolio of photos from past projects.  If you see none that you like the designer may not be for you.  Pick one or two that fit your taste and ask if you could contact the client as a reference, and if you wish, pay a visit.

For budgets, ask what type of budgets they typically work in.  Ask how they estimate costs, and how they monitor a project to keep costs in line.  When checking references, look for a couple in your budget range and ask the clients if the designer kept to the budget.

For general competency you can get some assurance if they have been working in the field a long time, the business appears successful, and if they have education and professional accreditation.  Again, seeing past project portfolios can help.

(post #175851, reply #13 of 13)

Wayne: That's fabulous advise all the way around. Thanks!