What It’s Like To Hire + Meet With An Interior Designer

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If you’ve decided to take the leap and work with an interior designer to make your dream home a reality, congratulations! You’ve prioritized investing in yourself and your home and we could not be happier for you.

But if you’re not sure what it’s like to work with an interior designer and whether it makes sense for you, we totally understand that too. There’s quite a lot that designers do behind the scenes that are not as well publicized as are the beautiful photos and grand end results. Designers bring expert experience and insights to each new project, coordinate everything single detail from start to finish to ensure your project runs smoothly, and ensure your money is being well spent along the way—plus a whole lot more! The beauty of working with a designer is that they help to save you time, money and from mistakes, all while guiding you to achieve the beautiful results you’ve always dreamed of!

We’re giving you a peek behind the scenes on what interior designers do and how they are a vital resource in interior design or remodeling projects—keeping your finances on track while saving your sanity and stress levels from spinning out of control!

Today, we’re going to be talking about the process of hiring and meeting with a designer, from why we highly recommend working with a designer on home renovation projects or full furnishings projects to what you can expect along the way.

Keep reading to learn more about what it’s like to hire and meet with an interior designer!

Dining room setting with a wooden table and a view into the living room.
Image Via East & Gray Interiors

1. The Selection Process

View Their Portfolio to Ensure Your Style Aligns

One of the most important parts of selecting an interior designer is to find someone who has a similar style to your own. Different designers have different styles, and you’ll be able to quickly gauge their look by perusing their social media or website portfolio. When you look through their past work, do the styles excite you and resonate with your own style?

While designers are creating customized spaces to fit the needs and tastes of their clients, they are also infusing their own eye for design and taste into the home. If you stumble across a designer whose portfolio is filled with bold, brightly colored eclectic interiors but you prefer a more natural, muted palette for the home, they may not be the right fit.

Weigh the Pros & Cons of Distance + Virtual Options

What happens if you find an interior designer whose style totally resonates with yours…but they’re located in another city or state. What should you do?

In today’s world, many designers have virtual design options for long distance clients, and in many cases, these services can be a great option. However, you should consider the scope of your project before choosing a fully virtual interior designer. If you’re doing a full home renovation and are hiring an interior designer to help you find the best contractors in your area, you’re probably better off working with someone local, as they will be familiar with the contractors and tradesmen in your area and will have trusted and vetted partners that they use. Whereas, if you’re looking for someone to give insight on colors, materials, furniture pieces, and layout, a virtual designer might be a great option, especially if you are looking for a quick turnaround time on your design!

Set up a Discovery Call with the Designer and talk through your project with them. They will be able to help advise you on whether virtual design will suit your project and everything you want to achieve, and you’ll gain a better idea of whether or not it’s a good fit for your project.

Ask for References

Don’t be afraid to ask an interior designer for client references. In fact, obtaining this information will help you better choose someone who has done great work in the past.

Tip: If a designer is weary about providing client references or showing past work, this is a warning sign! A good designer should be excited to provide new clients with this information because they know they’ve provided a quality service to past clients.

2. Prepare for Your First Meeting – And All Subsequent Meetings, Too.

Make A Moodboard and Collect Images of Designs You Love

It is incredibly helpful if you come to the first design meeting having already thought through your design style and aspirations, and have some inspiration photos or a moodboard ready to share with your Designer. You will not get the results you’re hoping for if you don’t spend time creating a blueprint for what you want in your new space! It might sound daunting—especially if you don’t consider yourself artistic or creative—but collecting ideas and inspiration can be really fun!

Images and moodboards do not have to be laid out in an artistic way, and they can represent several different styles or ideas. The point is to simply collect what you love and are inspired by—it can even be objects and not just photos. You and your Designer will sit down and talk through these inspiration photos together. It is then your Designer’s job to recognize and pull out the common threads among everything, which they are able to do by carefully listening to everything you share and what you highlight in each photo or object.

The easiest way to start is to head to Pinterest and search keywords that align with your overall style. Try “modern kitchen” or “timeless living room” and scroll through, pinning any images that have something that appeals to you. You can also save photos on Houzz or from internet searches, or tear pages out of magazines. There’s no right way to collect these images. Make sure to note what you like and don’t like about each image you save. Bring this information to your first meeting with your Designer, and you’ll get a whole lot more out of your time together, and your Designer will be better prepared to design you a home that is a true reflection of you.

Sample moodboard with a collage of different colored fabrics and other items as inspiration.
Image Via East & Gray Interiors

Be Sure to Complete Any Required Homework Beforehand

Designers will often ask you to gather a bit of information before your first meeting. Make sure that you’re prepared with all necessary information at least 24 hours before your first meeting. That way, if you find yourself unclear on a final detail, you’ll have time to reach out and ask for clarification before you meet. If you come unprepared, you’re wasting the designer’s time and delaying your own timeline for getting things started.

Prepare to Communicate Well with Your Designer

While designers are well trained and talented in a wide diversity of styles, methods of personalization, product customization (we can design tables, consoles, etc. if you need something specific), color, and more, this talent isn’t how we create a space with authenticity—we do that through communication.

In order for a designer to be able to bring your style to life in your home, it’s important that you communicate to them exactly what you like and do not like about their work, your inspiration photos, and other details that are imperative to you to have (or not have) in the design.

For example: Do you need a 6 burner stove over a 4 burner? What colors, textures, fabrics do you love (or not love)? Do you like your sofas and chairs to sit more soft and plush or more firm? Does seating in the home need to have a high or low back? Do you need carpet in certain rooms? Is your family active and hard on your furniture and finishes, or gentle on these items? Do you love or hate a 2 handle faucet versus a 1 handle faucet?

These are all the details that make your design 100% uniquely yours. Your Designer should (and will if they are good) ask you all these questions, and many more like them, in the beginning stages of your project. However, it is still helpful to consider them in advance. This way you are prepared with the answers when your Designer asks them, but it also helps ensure that you don’t forget to tell your Designer about aspects of the design that are extremely important to you.

Respect Your Interior Designer’s Time Outside of Meetings

Designers will designate times throughout the process for you to touch base with thoughts, ideas and feedback. Refrain from overloading your designer with emails, calls or texts in between meetings, unless it is something truly urgent. Designers often have many projects going at once, and they’re not able to juggle a constant stream of messages outside of designated times.

Plus, a designer is juggling lots of behind-the-scenes tasks, like sourcing textiles and furniture to coordinating with contractors and delivery workers. Constant messages to them will only slow down the process, and will result in frustration along the way on both sides.

3. Be Honest Throughout the Process + Trust Your Designer’s Insights

Give Honest Feedback & Voice Concerns Early

If along the way you feel hesitant about an idea or design, make sure you voice your concerns as early as possible. It’s okay to feel uneasy about certain things—your designer is there to help you make informed decisions that best align with your personal style and budget.

It’s important to remember that your designer is on your side and their goal is to create a home that you love. If they present a design you don’t love or suggest something that doesn’t speak to you, don’t ever feel hesitant to voice concerns or ask to go a different direction! That’s where the creativity comes in, after all.

East & Gray specializes in walking our clients through this process to ensure that your final design aligns with your vision and expectations. We prioritize understanding our clients tastes and goals throughout the design process to give you a finished product you’ll love.

A small collection of books between marble book holders.
Image Via East & Gray Interiors

Place Trust in Your Designer

A partnership built on communication, understanding and trust is most likely to deliver a design that is stunning and feels perfect for you.

One of the most important parts of hiring a designer is to trust their instincts and experience. Clients often want to do certain things, and a designer may caution them. While it’s always your call at the end of the day, we encourage you to have an open mind about the designer’s feedback on certain ideas.

Remember that part of a Designer’s job is to also help elevate your home and bring it to a level you would not have been able to achieve on your own. So allowing a Designer to help gently stretch you outside of your norm will lead to a truly unique and inspiring design, and falling in love with some new ideas you would have been too afraid to try on your own. A designer can provide you reassurance, support, and the confidence to take some fun risks in your home that can pay off big in the final design.

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meet Andrea!

Traveling, animals, and all things design encompass Andrea’s life, fueling her creative energy every step of the way.

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