7 things to consider before you hire an interior designer

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A good interior designer can fulfill your vision and even help you think outside the box. (Envato Elements pic)

Looking to spruce up your living spaces with a brand spanking new design? Unless you are in the creative field, you might not have a clear idea of what it takes to do up the inside of your home. This is where interior designers come in.

Beyond simply suggesting colours and furniture, he or she aims to create a harmonious space that takes into account factors such as lighting, foot traffic, and the function of the room.

Engaging the services of an interior designer means being open to a creative collaboration. Here are some of the things you should have in place before you embark on this exciting home renovation project.

1. Know your budget

You need to set a reasonable budget and be upfront about the price with your designer. Inadequate allocation of financial resources will result in a half-completed project, or future problems in the course of the redesign.

Don’t be shy or secretive about your budget; doing so might result in your designer suggesting things that cannot be fulfilled. Be clear about how much ringgit you are willing to part with.

That said, be flexible as well. There could be costs that are hard to determine until you get started, such as demolition charges, contractor and consultant fees, and shipping costs.

2. Know your style

The best way to explain what you want to achieve is to browse the internet for photos and examples. Don’t expect your interior designer to necessarily know what you mean when you spout vague terms like “Balinese style”, “minimalist design”, “retro”, or – worse still – “follow page 13 of this catalogue”.

Remember that interior design is a collaborative process between the homeowner and the professional. (Envato Elements pic)

Create a mood board to give the designer a feel of themes you like. Sites like Pinterest are a treasure trove of great design photos. Put together a scrapbook of ideas and identify what you like best, and why. Don’t forget to include photos of things you don’t like.

Discuss these ideas with your designer to see how they can be achieved for your own space. With your input, he or she can then work out colours, patterns and styles that meet your tastes.

3. Know the function of the space

It helps to share a little bit about what you do, how many people live in the house, what your hobbies are, and your daily routine in different spaces at home.

Details like these can go a long way in helping your designer come up with ideas that are efficient and useful, especially when it comes to small apartments.

4. Ask for recommendations

Different interior designers have different styles. Some may prefer lots of steel and bare cement to create an industrial look, while others may go for a “less-is-more” minimalist design.

Study their portfolio to see if their style gels with your ideas. It would also be good to find out if anyone you know has worked with them previously.

5. Pay attention to planning

Like any other project, spend more time on planning to reduce having to rework later. Your designer can provide 3D proposals that showcase the fabrics, colours and furniture they intend to use. This is a chance to see whether their vision matches your tastes, and set the stage for more finetuning.

The next step is a critical one: schematic designs are drawn up to identify problems and inefficiencies, and make room for overlooked areas. Try not to rush this, as a well-drawn layout will result in a productive project.

Schematic design is a critical phase in the interior-design process. (Envato Elements pic)

The design development plan is where your interior designer looks at finishes, furniture, and other items that need to be acquired. It may take up to eight weeks to fabricate completely custom-made furniture, or ship a large piece from overseas. As such, design development should be done early so your project remains on schedule.

6. Clarify roles and responsibilities

Before the project truly gets going, it’s important to spell out whether your designer is ultimately responsible for meeting delivery timelines. Will you ask them to work with your preferred contractors, or let them hire their own? Are they only providing design consultancy, or will they also be the project manager?

Make sure all tasks are clear, and that lines separating the designer’s and contractor’s responsibilities are respected. Describe the scope of work clearly so that, when changes are needed later on, there will be no misunderstanding.

You should also clarify exactly which rooms are covered in the design work. This is important if there are specific areas you don’t want touched.

7. Be open to change

The reason you hired an interior designer is to get a professional opinion on how to transform your space, so be open to new suggestions and ideas.

Then, when you have both arrived at a look you like, step back and let the pros do their work!

This article originally appeared on Recommend.my – Malaysia’s #1 Home Improvement Services Platform, offering a safer and more convenient way to hire the best home improvement and home maintenance professionals. From flooring to interior design to air-conditioner servicing, get access to thousands of the best local contractors and professionals at your fingertips.