How to Pick an Interior Designer. A Step-by-Step Guide


Everyone wants to live comfortably in a home decorated according to their own taste. But we often feel lost if we have a big decision to make when arranging our new home.

Many people choose to decorate their homes the way they see it on photos in a catalog. But there are also those who would like to furnish them in an original design.

If you want to avoid extra stress, you should think about hiring an interior designer. An experienced designer often turns out to be necessary to arrange the interiors well so they look tasteful and, at the same time, are functional.

Despite this, you may have doubts about your choice of an interior designer. You may also not fully understand what you’re going to receive as part of the contract signed with them.

So, how to choose and what to consider when selecting such a person when there are so many designers advertising on the internet?

You need to understand what to pay attention to when hiring and working with a professional so that you can enjoy a beautifully designed home.


Here are 5 steps that will help you pick an interior designer:



Step 1. Look for a Suitable Candidate


Think about Your Expectations

Before you start any specific talks about the details of the contract, it’s worth considering what you expect from an interior designer. You should talk about the scope of cooperation from the very beginning.


The designer’s duties may include, among others:

photographing and measuring rooms

creating new floor plans

preparation of 3d visualization / virtual interior walk

meetings with subcontractors

shopping with the customer


installation and assembly supervision

interior styling with recommended accessories for additional purchase



Where to Look for an Interior Designer?

There is nothing more useful than the recommendation of a family, friends, or acquaintances who are satisfied with working with a specialist. Also, you will be able to see for yourself how a particular designer coped with the challenge.

Besides, it’s always worth looking for a good designer on the internet. Of course, objective opinions and rankings are the most reliable. But be wary of both very enthusiastic opinions and unusually negative opinions as they can be paid for.

You can also browse through the offers in brochures and catalogs provided by design agencies.

If you don’t find anything captivating there, another option is to turn to graduates of art colleges that specialize in interior design.


Should You Focus Only on Price?

Don’t pay attention only to the price. Yes, it is important, but remember that the quality, scope, and even timing of what you get depends on it.

You can have projects with a huge price range. We realize that it’s not always easy to figure out and assess the right price to quality ratio. Notice that the better the reputation of the agency and the more clients they serve, the more expensive the prices are.


Company Verification

First of all, verify whether the agency or a freelancer you choose is running a business. You can check it based on the company registration number provided on their website. This increases your security in terms of cooperation. It guarantees the quality of work and the certainty that it will be completed on time and according to applicable norms and standards.


Why do You Need to Pay Attention to the Portfolio?

A portfolio is one of the most important issues you should look at closely when choosing an interior designer. First of all, it shows their experience, as well as the imagination, creativity, and unconventional approach to the subject.

While a good designer is not limited to one style and set of furniture, accessories, or colors, it’s important that their work to date appeals to you. Usually, you will find example designs on their website, which can become a valuable guide at the verification stage of the designer.

Besides, you can easily find out what style the designer is most likely to use. Of course, a professional should be versatile, but everyone has their own unique style and type of projects in which they feel best. It’s not surprising that, for example, some designers prefer cool and minimalist industrial aesthetics, while others, idyllic and warm rustic concepts.

When analyzing the offer of individual agencies, pay attention to, or ask about it during a phone call, what projects dominate in the portfolio. Our advice is that if somebody claims that they do everything, you should be very cautious.


And What About the Young, Promising Designers Who are Just Building Their Portfolio?

Well, they shouldn’t be left out! A great advantage of young but educated designers is a fresh look at contemporary interior design and no fear of introducing original, innovative solutions. For young designers, arranging space is both work and passion.

Apart from that, the young interior designer is very flexible and well informed about current trends. They are happy to go beyond the standard schemes and combine timeless solutions with current interior design trends.

By giving them a chance, you can also be sure that you will pay less. But before you decide to work with a young designer, it’s necessary to ask them for sample designs and photos of their first projects.


How to Know that the Interior Designer is a Professional?

It is obviously difficult but it’s important to analyze the person you have chosen. As already mentioned, the portfolio is the basic information you need to check to find out about the style of a given person.

The second thing is to pay attention to their reliability. The more information a designer provides that is relevant to you, the more confident you can be that you’ve found a true professional. This is best to find out based on the questions asked by them (e.g. about your allocated budget, or planned heating).

When you’re dealing with a competent person, the conversation should be honest and easy-going.

They should also take notice of those issues that seem to be irrelevant to you at the moment but are important for the future. For example, a good designer should suggest buying specific types of household appliances that are eco-friendly and save energy. This way you can save money in the future.

If you want to know the designer’s capabilities, it’s best to ask them about the initial plan according to which they will realize your vision. In this case, it’s good if the specialist draws a conceptual design, i.e. presents some preliminary drawings, or designs the interior on the computer.



Match Their Taste to Yours

The designer should have a taste similar to yours. To avoid conflicts, refer to the designer’s portfolio by browsing their website.

Familiarize yourself with the projects posted by interior design portals as they are a huge database of hands-on knowledge. If you find a professional with a similar taste, you’re on the right track to creating the perfect design. Thanks to a similar vision, we will avoid misunderstandings and you’ll be sure that they know exactly what you expect from them. Projects and photos of previous projects will tell more than a thousand words.

If the portfolio is rich and diverse, you can be sure that this person finds themselves in many styles and can adapt to the needs of the client.


Step 2. Verify the Chosen Candidate


Verification Process

Start verification by checking that the designer is able to listen and communicate correctly. Someone who takes the initiative from the outset is pushing his ideas and focusing more on meeting his or her ambitions is dangerous, but often, a common mix.

A good designer should first examine exactly what the customer’s expectations are, at what moment of life they are in (e.g. the design of interiors for single people is different than for a family with children), and what exactly is involved in the scope of services and budget.

Only on this basis can the designer give a project quote, specify possible dates, and above all, decide whether to propose cooperation with you.

See how the designer talks to you as a potential customer. Are they interested in details, or will they even give some small value immediately, thus encouraging you to cooperate?

The conversation must be positive and in a friendly atmosphere. You must feel you want to work with that person for the next few weeks.

Also, check the designer’s preferred form of communication with the customer. Some people prefer to meet in person, others just call and exchange e-mails.


How Are the Interior Designers Categorized?

Few people know that interior designers can be divided into several groups. The first group is employed in architectural offices that generally design buildings. Thus, the designers are involved in arranging living spaces “by chance”. Their services are considered to be the most expensive in the market.

The second group works with manufacturers of furniture and various finishing materials, such as bathroom fittings or kitchen appliances. Their services are usually included in the price of the products purchased, so this is an excellent option for savers.

The third group is the so-called freelancers who work for themselves or fulfill orders for private design firms. These are certainly professionals who are exclusively involved in interior design.

No matter which option you choose, remember that you should always ask the designer about their expertise, i.e. studies and courses they have completed.

Today almost anyone can enroll in an interior design course, which is often not enough to design elegant, stylish, and ergonomic projects while taking into account the customer’s wishes.


How to Prepare for a Meeting With the Interior Designer?

When you find particular designers that you are happy with, make an appointment with a few of them. Get to know them in person and compare their offers. Remember that the designer should not expect you to pay for this meeting!

It’s essential to bring your house plans with you to the meeting. Prepare a briefcase with example photos of interior designs and solutions you like. The photos can be cut out from magazines or you can also download pictures of interiors from the internet. Make two folders: “absolutely yes” and “absolutely no”. This way, the designer will have an idea of what exactly your preferences are. Also, tell the designer what features you need, such as an open kitchen, a kitchen island, or a separate closet.

It may sound trivial, but when dealing with an interior designer, the “chemistry” is important. If the first meeting is successful, this is a very good sign. Your cooperation will last quite a while, which is why it’s so important to think alike. You wouldn’t want to deal with the designer and fight for every detail.

The basis is an honest conversation that will clearly define and confront two visions, of the customer and the designer himself. A good way to test the competence of a specialist is to ask about one of the most original interiors they have ever designed. Thinking on the same page and their willingness to adapt to the customer’s taste is crucial.


What Kind of Designer Is It Better to Avoid?

If at the first meeting the designer says that they’re able to “design the interior in any style”, or have a lot of ideas for your home right away (even without seeing plans), think carefully whether it’s the right person.

They should start working not only by knowing the interiors you like but also your personality and lifestyle. Yes, the designer has a lot to do with the psychologist. If you’re single and you eat out most of the time, you don’t need a huge kitchen. They should be able to read it without any mistakes.


Don’t Be Afraid of the Designer

If this is your first meeting with a designer, you don’t need to know everything. Don’t be embarrassed that you don’t understand some things.  You don’t employ an interior designer every day.

Remember that honesty is the key to good relations. Inform them straight away that you have a limited budget or how you want your home to look like.

Don’t be afraid to ask what their job will involve or in what form you will receive the project. The more things you clarify at the beginning, the better your cooperation will be.


Step 3. Work Out the Details of Cooperation


Preliminary Offer and Plan

When you feel that the designer or an agency may be the right one, go to the specifics.

To further explore the capabilities of the professional, ask about the individual offer and the initial plan for your cooperation. It’s best to include a section where the designer commits to make a conceptual design.

It must include a drawing of the layout of the rooms and their equipment, computer visualizations of the interiors designed, as well as technical drawings for the contractor. The conceptual design should also include interior décor, e.g. selection of furniture, lighting, and accessories, or proposed color palette.

The preliminary offer must include the scope of the project, deadlines, as well as the number of meetings (or video conferences) between you.

You should know whether you’re going to visit stores with furniture and accessories together. Take notice if the designer is limited to selecting items from specific stores only. If so, which ones, and does this choice suit you?


Interior Design Valuation and Costs

The price should be clear and known at the beginning of the cooperation, so ask for it if it’s not provided. The more accurate the offer you received from the designer, the better. But it’s worth examining the offer not only for the price but also for the content. An offer for a larger scope of work will greatly reduce the financial burden on the client.

The valuation of the interior design project depends on:

the scope of work (comprehensive or partial project)

how big the house is (the larger the area, the lower the unit price)

the number of functional revisions and visualizations presented

the scope of preparation of the working documentation

supervision of the project


It’s worth noting how the quotation is described. A good practice is to define the scope of services for each part which makes it clear what price you can expect to pay. If the designer gives a comprehensive estimate in the offer, then you’ll have full control of the budget for the future investment before the work begins.


Deadlines for the Project Completion

Agree on a date when the entire project will be finished. The proposed deadline should satisfy you but also take into account other projects that the designer currently works on. Some sought-after designer firms will make you wait a few weeks (or even months!) to start collaboration. If it’s urgent, look around smaller agencies, or be prepared to pay high rates for projects carried out in a hurry.

On the basis of the final date agreed, the designer can also propose completion dates for the individual stages of the project. They may then require subsequent partial payments based on these dates.

Hiring a designer will definitely shorten your waiting time for the materials and team, and thus save you time, a lot of nerves, and extra costs.


Create a Budget Plan

Establishing a renovation budget is a key issue and the main starting point for any discussions with the specialist. When analyzing your expectations, you should both consider the amount spent on renovation and the price point for the selected furniture and materials.

Designers often work with specific brands, usually mid- to upper-range. If that suits you, no problem. But when you expect more reasonable prices, make sure you get them as part of the project.

A well-developed budget makes work progress quickly and efficiently. The important rule, however, is not to save money on the designer. Too low a price may be a suspicious offer, but too high can not always be a sign of high-quality services. Remember that the costs of the designer will definitely pay off.

Thanks to working with the designer you will also save money on discounts at the store.



Step 4. Sign the Agreement


The contract is a sacred thing. Do not agree to cooperate with someone who will not provide you with a contract that’s easy to understand. The terms must clearly define the scope of the project, deadlines, prices, rights, and obligations of both parties. The communication method and the form of project completion are also important.

Find out whether the contract will cover only the project, or also its supervision. In the second case, the designer will make sure that the team puts the tiles exactly as is in the plan, whether the wall color matches the one proposed by the designer, whether the lighting was installed in the right place, etc..

In general, the more detailed the contract is, the less likely problems will arise in the subsequent stages of cooperation. Carefully prepared documentation will allow the work to progress efficiently and without costly mistakes.


Step 5. Cooperate With the Interior Designer


You may wish to participate in the creation of your new home design to various extend. And the rules should have been agreed before you sign the agreement.

Yet, be aware that you will be asked many times to submit various data and evaluations. The designer will ask you to fill out forms, give your opinion on the preferred style or on presented pictures. They are necessary to help the designer to create a project that will meet your expectations.

Your responsibility is to provide everything in a timely manner as not to delay the project. Know that the more details the designer gets from you at the very beginning, the less will be needed at later stages.


Final Thoughts:

Searching for an ideal interior designer can take many weeks or even months. But remember that it’s always worth waiting to find a professional who will meet your requirements. A sloppy, rushed and bland design project will turn out to be a disaster. But a stylish, well-thought project will guarantee you happiness every day and for many years to come.

Designing your new house or getting a makeover for your old interiors is exciting, but at the same time, a very stressful process. This is where the help of a specialist comes handy. Your cooperation based on a mutual inspiration will definitely result in a stunning interior.

We hope that we gave you useful guidelines on how to pick an interior designer. After all, it is key to choose a professional who can efficiently deliver what we’re asking for, who will not exceed the budget, and will suggest the most favorable solutions.