An interior designer can revamp your existing home to make it more liveably attractive, create a stylish, inviting environment in a new residence, or help you stage a house you want to sell. Before you choose a practitioner from among decorators central London, make sure your selection is a good fit for your project, your expectations, and your budget.
1. Look for relevant, verifiable experience
Anyone can put together a website and claim to be an interior designer. In fact, a design firm may set up an online presence that offers a completely misleading impression, with photos “borrowed” from others’ websites and claims of expertise that owe more to imagination than to reality. You want pros with real credentials and equally real expertise, not a wannabe who’ll take your money and run.
Set up an appointment to meet with any designer you think might be a good match. Ask to see documentation of past projects comparable to yours in scope, scale, and budget. If you see images that reflect the continual application of the same style to every project, that’s fine if it matches your taste, but it points to a lack of flexibility and imagination.
Ask for referrals to past clients whose projects you’ve seen among the design firm’s portfolio, and contact each referral with questions designed to prequalify the working relationship and results you’re likely to experience. Was the designer easy to work with and attentive to the client’s tastes? Was the job completed on time and within (or under) budget? How did the designer handle any problems that cropped up, and what, if anything, went wrong? If the design firm fails to offer referrals or can’t offer unequivocal and glowing testimonials, move on to another prospect.
2. Talk about money
Make your budget clear, along with your decor expectations. This gives designers the chance to suggest that your plans will exceed your pocketbook, and to explain why you’re unlikely to get what you want for what you expect to pay. You want to know up front if you’ve formulated unrealistic plans or the designer prefers bigger-ticket projects than yours. If every design firm you interview balks at your budget, however, you may need to rethink it or scale back your plans.
3. Discuss your objectives
Unless you tell them, design firms don’t know whether you’re furnishing an empty, newly built home, revising a long-standing residence, or staging a property to market it successfully. Talk about what you want to accomplish, and bring photos or videos of the property. If you’ve found images online or in magazines that match up well with the look you want or feature a signature piece of furniture that you want to emulate, bring a clip file with you as well. If a designer seems more interested in your budget than in your plans, you may have found someone who views you as the solution to a cash-flow crisis rather than a prospective client.
Think through what you want, formulate a realistic budget, and above all, walk away from any interior design firm that doesn’t appear to want your business and value your ideas. Your project means too much to your future comfort to entrust it to someone you don’t fully trust, appreciate, or both.