Top 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Interior Designer
When it comes to hiring a Greenwich interior designer, there’s probably a lot of questions that come to mind. If you’ve never worked with an interior designer, it can feel a bit intimidating! You want to make sure you have found not only the perfect match when it comes to design, but also in professionalism and their knowledge of the field. Here at KCD, we want our clients to turn into lifelong relationships they can depend on. We’ve compiled our top 10 questions to ask an interior designer before hiring them to help make the decision easier.
What is your process like?
While interior design can seem all fun and creative, there’s really a lot of technical work that goes into it. It’s so important that the interior design team you work with has a tried and true system in place! Ask anyone you are considering working with what kind of project management systems they use, what types of questionnaires they work with, and how they hold themselves accountable.
In interior design, the smallest mistake can be extremely costly and time consuming. For example, one missed letter on a paint color specification can end up costing hundreds of thousands in a new paint job when you show up and it’s the wrong color. When you’re spending six figures on furnishings and custom fixtures, you can’t afford errors. You want to be certain the team you hire is extremely detail oriented and has an airtight system to avoid these issues.
For the KCD team, we have built a lot of redundancy into our workflow to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for our clients. All documents, measurements, and samples are reviewed by multiple sets of eyes and cross referenced. Fabric clippings, paint swatches, and fixture samples are all requested from our vendors so that we physically see what is being made or ordered for you before it is processed. We also use a system called Revit. This allows us to draft your space in 3D so we can make sure everything fits proportionally in your space and visually see it all together before we start any kind of ordering or installation. All of these layers help us to eliminate any mistakes and save our clients time and money.
Did you go to school for interior design?
This is such an important question! There’s a huge difference between someone who has an “eye for design” and a certified interior designer with formal training. When you go to school for interior design, you learn all about the logistics of design, including architecture. These are very technical crafts that take years of practice and education to perfect. If you’re working on your own home, you may not think things like code compliance or material knowledge are a big deal, but these parts of the design can lead to wasted time and expensive mistakes when overlooked.
We see our position in our clients’ lives akin to a financial advisor. We are taking care of your biggest investment – your home. The design team you work with needs to know how to take care of your money and invest it wisely. At KCD, we think about the smallest of details while working with you. Will everything we order fit through your elevator or front door? Will the lighting be proportional to your space? Are the fabrics we are choosing going to hold up to your daily life? There are so many moving parts to an interior design project, and you have to make sure the team you work with is prepared and knowledgeable in the process.
Do you have any certifications?
Make sure to ask any interior design team that you’re working with if they have passed the NCIDQ exam and are licensed in your state. This license ensures that this professional not only has a design eye, but also the technical knowledge and experience. They know how to handle issues as they arise and how to prevent errors from occurring in the first place. If you are interested in creating a healthy and energy efficient home, you should look for a LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional). As one of the only residential interior design LEED AP’s in the northeast US, I have extensive knowledge on how to create a sustainable, green home. Take a look at our last blog to learn more about some of the ways our team creates a healthy home!
Can you accommodate working for clients who have disabilities or special sensitivities?
As we’ve learned lately, life is full of unexpected surprises. Whether you or someone in your family has a disability or sensitivity, or you simply want to think ahead and keep this home as your forever home, having a designer that understands ADA compliance and the components that make up a healthy home is crucial. For our Greenwich interior designer clients, we have been able to design with “aging in place” in mind, while still keeping the home beautiful. The right design team can accommodate any kind of special functions or restrictions without looking “institutional” or sacrificing the beauty you want.
How do you determine my style?
Every designer uses a different method to help their clients figure out the right style, but only the best have it down to a science. We have a tried and true questionnaire that goes over everything in the blend to make your perfectly designed sanctuary.
How do you vet the people working in my home?
This is such an important question! Depending on the scope of your project, your home could end up having a team with 20+ people involved and working inside your house. You need to ask your design team how they can make sure that the people coming in are trustworthy and experts in their field. At KCD, we have an arsenal of trusted craftsmen, vendors, and supplies that we have worked with for YEARS. We only use these trusted professionals to ensure the highest quality and professionalism.
How much will it cost and how long will it take?
The question everyone wants to know! Every Greenwich interior designer works differently, and at KCD, we evaluate the scope of the project and the size of the home and come up with an estimate and an educated timeline as to how long the project will take. Typically, our clients’ projects end up costing around $175-$400 per square foot and take around 6 months to 3 years to complete.
How do you handle purchases?
When working with a Greenwich interior designer, you will end up needing to order many items during the course of your project. From furniture to lighting to decor, there are a million details and items to keep track of. Your design firm should have a solid method to handle purchases. For our clients, we act as the sole vendor. Our clients pay us directly for all purchases, and we take full responsibility and liability for any items they purchase. We also believe in keeping things fair and transparent, and our clients pay the MSRP of every item we purchase.
What is the pay structure?
Depending on which interior design team you work with, the pay structure can vary greatly. Some charge by the square foot, some charge hourly, and some do a combination of the two. For KCD clients, we charge by the hour plus the MSRP of any item we purchase on their behalf. This allows our clients to be in complete control of the budget and to use us as much as needed.
What should I bring with me to our first consultation?
Heading into your consultation can be a bit stressful, so having everything they need ahead of time can make things easier for both parties! When preparing for a KCD consultation, we ask that you bring the following:
1. Any documents you have related to the project: floor plans, photos, clippings from things you have saved.
2. A list of what you are looking for in a professional designer. Thinking through this in advance helps us better understand your needs and goals.
3. Links to any of your online resources such as Pinterest and Houzz. Be sure to go ahead and have images saved so we can review them together when we meet. If you like, you can set up a private Pin-Board and invite us in advance. Our Pinterest handle is Kati Curtis Design.
4. An inventory list and photos of existing furniture or decor you want to use.
5. Your objective and lifestyle needs.
6. Time frame in which you would like to work, do you have any major life events you are
planning for? A wedding, holidays, party, etc.
7. Your completed design questionnaire
Choosing a Greenwich interior designer is no easy decision. We hope this guide helps you to narrow down the best fit for your family. If you’re ready to get started on your interior design project, contact us to schedule your consultation!