If you are reading this, you are probably in the market for interior design services, whether for a
quick room “refresh,” a full home makeover or building a new dream home from scratch. Congratulations – you’ve worked hard to be in a position to invest in a designer, and there’s so much to be excited about!
At the same time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of decisions to be made and details to be managed. Selecting fabulous new furnishings in the right combination of
colors, patterns, and shapes is only one piece of the puzzle! The design process also covers everything from sourcing items, to budget planning, to hiring the right contractors and tradespersons to managing the purchase, delivery, and installation of everything needed to make the design vision come to life. This is where an experienced designer can take stress off your plate and free up your time and mental space to focus on the fun + joyful side of the process!
Choosing who to work with can be daunting, however. Why? Because it's personal. It's intimate. It's your space - the home where you create lifelong memories with loved ones and come to after a long day to relax and unwind. Most of all, it expresses you and the story you want to tell.
Where do you begin? Right here with a little. . .
The first step is finding what inspires you. You may gravitate toward a certain look, whether it’s contemporary, mid-century, glamorous, cozy, maximalist, minimalist, or your own eclectic style–a mix of "Ohhh, I love this" and "but I also love that." We get it!
Our advice? Take some time and browse through Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz, and the many interior design/decoration publications on the market. Look anywhere and everywhere for ideas and styles that whisper to your soul. Collect your inspiration photos + videos onto a Pinterest board or Instagram feed of your own. Chances are high that even if you aren't quite sure how to define your style precisely, you'll find you repeatedly identify with the same look when doing this exercise. A designer can help you hone in on the style + elements that naturally resonate with you.
And of course, check out the websites and portfolios of designers in your area. What is most important for this initial step is finding a designer whose work you absolutely love.
What to Ask at the Consultation
By now, you've narrowed your search to a handful of designers and set up an initial consultation with your top choice or choices. Bring all of your ideas. What colors and textures do you like? What mood do you want to evoke in your new space? What are your must-haves? What are things you are willing to sacrifice? If you made one, bring your vision or mood board. Just by listening, a great designer can help you expand your ideas and create a vibe that speaks directly to your distinctive personality.
It’s also important to talk about things beyond the design vision to make sure you align in other areas as well. Your design team will be your partner in creating your dream space on many levels, so make sure you know how they manage their projects and communicate with clients. A great design concept can fall flat without proper management, so choosing a design firm with a team of both creatives and business professionals will help make sure your project runs as smoothly as possible. It’s important to ask about:
Project Management: Is there a dedicated Project Manager? What other operational support staff does the design team have?
Contractor Management: Will the design firm manage contractors and tradespersons on your behalf, or will that be left to you after the design plan is in place?
Procurement Services: Does the design firm offer procurement services–that is, placing orders and managing shipping, receiving, inspection, delivery, installation, and returns/issue resolutions on your behalf?
Other key things to ask about at the outset include:
Relationships with Contractors, Showrooms, and Trades: How long has the firm been operating in your area? Do they have a “go-to” network of trusted partners, including contractors, builders, architects, tradespersons, and local vendors and showrooms? Do they know the right people to team up with to help ensure a successful project on every level?
Range of Services Offered: Be sure to ask about both:
Design Services: What final design deliverables will be produced (such as floorplans, drawings, concept or mood boards, selections boards, and 2D or 3D renderings)? What meetings and appointments will be included in your scope?
Non-Design Services: What project management, contractor management, procurement management, and budget-planning services are offered?
Costs and Fee Structure: Is there a minimum design fee? Does the firm use a flat rate or billable hour structure?
Communication: Communication is key. How will the design team keep you in the loop as changes or updates are needed?
Project Timeline: How soon could the design team get started on your project? What kind of timeframes should you expect for:
Design Phase: completing a design plan
Construction Phase: completing any remodel or construction work
Installation Phase: completing all procurement, delivery + installation of furnishings and materials.
You will also want to share information with the design team to help them understand your priorities, goals, and working style. This will make sure the project is the right fit all around!
We recommend coming prepared with answers to the following questions:
Your Priorities: Which of these priorities is most important to you:
Quality: finding the perfect items, regardless of costs or lead times
Budget: staying within budget and finding “next best” alternatives if needed
Timing: completing the project quickly or by a firm deadline, even if it means sacrificing quality or going over budget.
Your Budget: What is your total estimated “all-in” budget, including design fees, contractor fees, and costs of materials + furnishings? It’s OK if you only have a rough sense at this point.
Your Decision-Making Style: Do you tend to be a quick or contemplative decision-maker? Do you like to make decisions on the spot and move on, or do you like to have time to mull things over before committing?
Your Desired Level of Involvement: How involved or hands-on do you wish to be in the process? How much time and bandwidth do you have? Relatedly, how important is it to you to see or test out items in person – do you need to visit showrooms or are you OK making selections based on images or samples?
Your Co-Decision-Makers (if any): Are there other key decision-makers on your project, such as a family member, roommate, or significant other? If so, are you aligned in your responses to these questions? Who will get the final say on design decisions?
And Finally: What excites you most about your project? Is there anything your designers can help to demystify about the design process?
Tip? Write everything down on paper and leave shyness at the door.
And the final rose goes to . . .
You've done your research and met with possible designer soul mates, and now it's time to make your final choice. Consider your goals, budget, and interview information. Then, trust yourself. You know better than anyone what your needs may be, so listen to your inner voice and choose the best-suited designer to help you expand your vision and tell your story.
Ready to take the first few steps? Feel free to contact us at the following link to set up a free discovery call or to schedule an in-person initial consultation: https://www.davinciinteriors.com/contact. We would love to help make your design dreams a reality! And follow us on Instagram @davinciinteriors123.