most common mistakes when hiring an interior designer photo credit: dttsp

Sadly there are times when a designer or a client feel dissatisfied by the design process and their working relationship.  Here are the most common mistakes when you hire an interior designer.

Not being clear about your expectations

For me honesty and transparency is the most important part of the designer/client relationship, for both parties.  If this relationship sours, it is likely because either party was unclear on their expectations.  As the client, it is important to be very clear on your expectations for the project.  Speak to your designer about your budget, including what you're comfortable spending on various things, as well as the service costs.  You'll also want to be very clear about what work you want accomplished and in what time frame and what the end product should look like.  If you have expectations about anything related to the project, discuss that with your designer.  It is said that you'll never be disappointed if you never expect anything, but since that is not possible for your home design project, be as clear as possible as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Not vetting your designer

Because this is a relationship, you need to be absolutely sure that you trust, like, and respect the person you are getting into a relationship with.  Check recommendations, check experience, check education, and make sure that you like what you find for projects that are similar to yours.

Not having a contract

A contract lays out the responsibilities and expectations for this working relationship.  Do not start a project without one.  Again, do not start a project without one.  There is a lot of money involved in a design project and you need to protect yourself and your home.  A contract should be mutually beneficial.  If you don't understand the contract, ask your designer to clarify or speak to a lawyer.  A contract should include the scope of a project, the fees, and how any disputes will be resolved.

Not checking insurance coverage

A vase breaks.  A contractor installs the wrong tile.  The wood floor scratches a year after installation.  The electrician falls off a ladder.  The plumbing goes missing from the job site before installation.  The plumbing goes missing from the job site after installation.  A table finish starts peeling.  Who's responsible?  You don't want to have a gap in your insurance coverage.  By checking insurance coverage of all those who will work on your project as well as your own homeowners insurance you can purchase supplemental insurance if necessary.

Not expecting the unexpected

It is inevitable that something on a project will not go as planned.  You must allow for some contingencies.  No project goes perfectly and no matter how experienced your designer is, not every situation can be foreseen or avoided.  So you can expect that these unexpected situations will arise.  A vendor will tell you on shipping day that your table is now backordered.  The upholstery that was supposed to take 4 weeks suddenly isn't going to be done for another 6.  The bathroom tiling project is much more complicated than anticipated.  One roll of your wallpaper order was a different color way.  The delivery truck is stuck in a blizzard across the country.  There are things that you can't see until you open up the walls and floors of a house.  There is a pipe in the way of your new hallway.  There is mold in the walls.  The electrical panel is incorrectly wired.  These are the things you can't plan for.  Expect to make some compromises and expect the unexpected and you'll be much happier for it.

Not realizing the emotional toll

Any sort of home building, remodeling, or redesigning carries an emotional toll.  These projects are a lot of money that you probably feel quite attached to.  Progress may be slow until the end.  It is difficult to have people in your space and it is difficult to live in limbo.   I've written an entire article on the emotions involved in an interior design project, but as long as you realize that there will be ups and downs you can avoid this common mistake.

Not taking the advice of the designer

If you hired a design professional, remember to listen to their advice.  Designers are skilled and experienced professionals.  If you are looking for someone to back up your choices or to go shopping with, take a friend.  If you have hired a designer don't let those same friends (or mothers, brothers, and dog-walkers) sway your opinion.  You're not paying them for their opinions and they won't live in your home.  If you feel like you're not getting on with your designer, say something.  Maybe you can work it out and maybe you'll need to go your separate ways, but it does not one any good to continue in a relationship that doesn't have chemistry and communication.

Expectations exceeding budget

Interior design is a luxury service.  HGTV is entertainment and not the real world.  Be careful and heed your designer's advice when you expect more than your wallet will allow.  Just because you are paying for a service and are paying for something new doesn't mean that it'll be top quality.  Really, the bottom line is you get what you pay for for better or for worse.  This is true for products and services.  Designers can stretch a budget, but they can't turn pumpkins into horse-drawn carriages.  Have a heart-to-heart with your designer about how much you want to spend, a good designer can help you buy quality pieces over time or tell you to save up some more for your dream.

Now tell me, are there any mistakes that I missed?  I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below.