When I get a call or email from a potential new client there are many things I ask to determine if we're a fit. Oftentimes, people have never worked with a designer and are calling to get familiar with the basics. Generally, before you contact any designer you should know a few things to help the process and to provide an accurate picture of what you are looking for. Here are the top three things you should know before contacting a designer.
How much do you want to spend? How much do you want to invest in your project? Sometimes it is hard to know, right? But if you really ask yourself what you are comfortable spending you should be able to settle on a number. Also ask yourself if that amount is firm (in which your designer should work in a contingency) or if it is a range. Ask yourself hypothetical questions and really gauge your response. When I speak to potential clients that tell me they don't know what to spend, I start by asking them if they want to spend a million dollars on this project (the answer is usually "no"), then I go down in increments from there. Simply by asking yourself if you are comfortable spending a certain amount should give you an idea of what your budget is. For example: Would I spend $50,000 on this powder room remodel? $20,000? $10,000? $5000? $500? $5000 may feel too high and $500 would probably feel too low, so you'd probably say that you wanted to spend between $2000 and $4000. You can also get very specific - would I want to spend $10,000 on a new bed? $7500? $4000? Once you hire an interior designer you can work out a more detailed budget and they can talk to you about what you can get for your budget, but by asking yourself these questions before you hire a designer you will be able to find the correct person for the job and enjoy a smoother process. Visit this site to see remodeling cost averages by region and project. Bottom line: Don't contact a designer unless you've thought about what you want to spend.
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There is a range of potential clients, from those that have no idea what they want to those that know exactly what they want to do. Obviously most fall somewhere about in the middle of that. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, take a look at different designers' portfolios and ask yourself if you like what you see. Do you like the layout? The feel? The furniture? If you're digging the overall feel of the spaces, it could be a good match. This isn't the only place you should look though, because portfolios aren't always a great representation of the designer's style. So you can look at their Houzz ideabooks, Pinterest page, and even Instagram. This will give you a well-rounded idea of the designer's style. Bottom line: Narrow your designer choices by thoroughly researching their styles and make sure you're digging it.
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You designer is there as a guide, but unless you want to give them cart blanche (and are going to be totally a-ok with the outcome), give yourself some time to think about what your expectations are for hiring a designer and the outcome of the project. This is especially good to think about before you hire someone so that you are clear without letting the professional muddle too much. Just like you had a list for non-negotiables when searching for a home or a mate, you can also have a list for doing interior design projects. This way when you contact the designer and tell her that you'd like it done in six weeks or want to install an indoor above-ground swimming pool, she can gauge if your project is the right match for the company. A question I love to ask and one you can ask yourself is, "How do I want my house to feel?" Bottom line: If you're not clear about your expectations your (potential) designer isn't getting a clear view of the project.
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