Below is a list of helpful questions to ask an interior designer during your in-person interview, and prior to hiring him. By gathering your information, and getting answers to your design questions, you will be able to make more well-informed decisions. In addition to the formalities and technicalities of the interior designer's expertise and experience, it's truly important that you connect with the person who will handle your home's redesign. Communication is key to a successful collaboration.
1. Do you have experience designing spaces that are...(modern, retro, traditional, Victorian, minimalist, or contemporary) similar to what I'm looking for with this redesign?
2. What is your fee for what we've described with this project?
3. Will you renovate the room for us with the existing walls and structures, or will you need to knock down walls and ceilings to accomplish the look you envision?
4. Tell the designer if you have children or pets, and then ask if he can work his magic to incorporate living spaces that will reflect your lifestyle.
5. If you or another family member works at home during the day, ask the designer if he needs the space vacant to do his work.
6. What is your gut feeling about the interior designer? Do both of you click, and do you sense that you can trust him and his decisions to accomplish the goals that you have in mind?
7. Ask to see the interior designer's portfolio, and also ask him about his schooling, years of experience, and ask him about his credentials.
8. Does he have a client list that he can share with you, or perhaps a person or two that you can call for referrals about the work he did for them?
9. Ask him if you'll be able to see the floor plans, design boards, sample fabrics and other plans in advance of the work being started.
10. Ask him if he will allow you or another family member to approve the work before it's started, and especially if walls and ceilings will be knocked out.
11. Ask him about his fee structure and payment plan. Does he charge a flat fee; is everything billed on an hourly basis; or, does he require a percentage-based payment structure, whereby an established amount is paid upfront before the work begins, then another amount is payable at the halfway point, and the balance is due at the completion of the project?
12. If he receives a designer's discount by purchasing supplies from specific vendors, ask who receives the refund, you or him.
13. Ask for an estimate of how long the designer anticipates the project to take before the work is completed. Some projects will run longer than expected, but will that be reflected in the amount the designer will charge? Be very clear regarding the fees and the deliverables. Know what you are buying and paying for, and how much it will cost, before you hire the designer.
14. Ask if you're responsible for any aspect of the design, building, and purchase portions of the project. You don't want any surprises or being held responsible for holding up a team of workers when you didn't know everything was hinging on your decisions.
15. Will you receive the revised or updated drawings and floor plans for any unforeseen design changes?
16. Are you responsible for recruiting and hiring the construction or design crew, or does the interior designer provide all the personnel necessary to complete the project?
17. Will the designer agree to draw up a contract that defines his fees and services? Verbal agreements and handshakes might feel fine at the initial meeting, but it's recommended that you get everything in writing so there are no doubts regarding the arrangements that you both have agreed to.
If the designer uses words or terms that you're unfamiliar with, ask him to explain it another way until you understand his terminology. It's important that you're comfortable with the aesthetic changes and conceptual ideas that the designer has in mind before you hire him.
In addition, if at any point the designer refuses to answer your questions, or explain basic concepts, you are allowed to ask him to leave your home. Again, it's imperative that you trust the person you hire, and if your gut tells you that you both can't work together, then it's time to end the interview and prepare for the next meeting with another designer.