FIND YOUR ‘A’ TEAM
Choosing an interior designer that’s right for you is about more than shortlisting a professional – aligned vision, a good fit, trust and a mutual appreciation for detail are key considerations.
If you have a decorative or structural ambition for your home, but need help realising the details, hiring an interior designer can be a worthwhile endeavour.
First, consider how large your project is in size and scope and how best an interior designer can help you. Many are qualified to handle interior structural works as well as overhaul the decorative elements of a scheme, which means that one professional can manage an entire project. Others will work in conjunction with an architect on large-scale builds, while interior decorators focus only on the design factors, from furnishing a scheme to choosing fabrics and textures. Start by being clear about what type of professional you are hiring and what you’d like them to do. For example, if you have already hired an architect, introduce them to your designer early on, so each can easily assess how their respective roles will complement the other.
WHAT’S YOUR STYLE?
Even if you have firm ideas and plenty of experience pulling a scheme together, working with an interiors expert often results in braver design choices. A good interiors specialist will bring his or her signature motif to a scheme, be it pared back or more decorative, contemporary or timeless, while crucially allowing your own style to come to the fore. They can open your eyes to possibilities you might not have thought of and help shepherd you out of your decorative comfort zone. Tap into their detailed knowledge of spatial planning, ergonomics and creative arts to help make a scheme come alive.
Before hiring an interior designer, try to get a sense of their work by looking at their website, asking to see their portfolio and having an informal preliminary chat with them. For client privacy reasons, interior designers are sometimes not able to photograph private homes or put images on their website. So instead, ask them to put some imagery or drawings together. Most designers are quite happy to do this free of charge. It’s also worth consulting the BIID’s (British Institute of Interior Design) online resource, which lists recommended interior designers while also providing suggestions about how they can work hand-in-hand with other professionals on your project, such as architects or structural engineers.
Favourite magazines are another way of tracking down interior designers whose work you admire. Bear in mind that affordability is an important factor – if some designers prove to be out of your budget, ask them if they are willing to recommend colleagues who can achieve your desired look and feel more economically. Personal chemistry is important too – getting along well at the outset makes the process easier and more enjoyable.
It can be helpful to collect images and ideas before you meet a designer. Websites and apps like Instagram and Pinterest can be a great aid in building a virtual scrapbook of things you like; they also act as a springboard for productive collaboration. Do keep an open mind too. A good interior designer will come up with ideas and solutions that you may never have thought of. They will also be sensitive to the financial constraints of a project and help you save money through clever planning.
Words by Emma J Page
Photography by Rebecca Reid