Making The Most Of Your Smart Decision To Hire An Interior Designer

So you’ve decided to hire an Interior Designer–good move! Now what? Before you start planning your “reveal” party, you’ll need a basic understanding about the process to ensure that you get the most design for your dollar and that you have a fun and fabulous experience, no matter what type of project is ahead of you.

You’ll need to learn the basics of choosing the right design professionals, establishing a budget, outlining the details of the contract, considering your lifestyle and communicating your challenges.

Choosing the Right Designer: Beyond the Portfolio

Professionally trained Interior Designers have undergone extensive training in the various elements of modern and historical design, art and architecture. They have a basic foundation of knowledge that allows them to develop concepts in a variety of styles that range from traditional, contemporary, art deco, eclectic–or a combination of several styles.

That being said, not every designer’s talent is right for every project. For yours, you’ll want to choose someone whose portfolio “speaks” to you in a positive way. As with every profession, designers tend to develop personal styles that carry over into their projects. It could be the sense of clarity and order you see in the furniture arrangements, or maybe it’s a color palette that’s used in a unique way. It could be the modern touches worked seamlessly into a roomful of antiques, or the interesting textures of the fabrics.

Referrals are the best way to find a designer, so if the home of a friend or colleague appeals to you, by all means ask them for the designer’s number! You can also visit Web sites to get a better feel for the designer’s talent and personal style. Expect to spend a bit of time on the phone discussing your project with the designer and/or completing a questionnaire that will give them a better feel for your tastes and your project prior to the kickoff meeting.

You’re looking for someone you instantly trust and respect, who communicates excitement about your project, no matter how big or small, and who trusts and respects you as well. After all, this person is transforming your most sacred and cherished space!

Establishing a Realistic Budget

Everyone has a budget, so don’t feel bad about setting yours in stone…or tile, or brick. No matter what the amount, your designer should help you get the best value and the highest quality possible. Be wary of anyone that summarily dismisses your grand ideas based on budget alone: A first-rate designer will work hard to achieve your key design goals, perhaps by spreading the job out over time or suggesting alternative solutions for your project.

A great benefit of using a professional designer is that she has access to materials unavailable to the general public, so no matter what your budget, your home will feel unique and very “you.”

Your designer will also manage the entire process, whether it involves space planning, lighting design, purchasing, ordering, selecting finishes or monitoring the construction and installation of the project elements.

Outlining Terms of the Contract

Make sure you read and sign an official contract before any money exchanges hands or work begins. In addition to the legal aspects, a contract summarizes the plans you’ve been discussing such as your budget, design fees, accountability regarding subcontractors (painters, carpet layers, etc.).

You’ve selected the designers and signed the contract – now comes the fun part!

Considering Your Lifestyle

Your home environment should complement and support the way you and your family really live – or really want to live. For example, if you’re starting a home-based business, you might turn your cluttered garage into a functional office. If your spouse loves to cook, you might knock down a wall so the under-used formal dining room becomes part of the kitchen. Many families make the mistake of letting the layout of the home dictate their activities vs. reorganizing the space to embrace their lifestyles.

To ensure that your designer understands how you live now and how you want to live, share as many details with her as you can. Also share your personal tastes so she can incorporate them into the designs. If you hate plaid, tell her now, before she gets too deep into the first draft.

To help you better prepare yourself, answer these questions before you have your first meeting with the designer:

  • Are you a creative person? In what ways does your home limit your creativity or your hobbies?
  • Do you like the present color palette? Does it need updating?
  • Are they any rooms that feel cramped or stuffy? Any rooms that feel empty, cold or unwelcoming?
  • Is adequate, well-organized storage a problem? Can you find things when you need them?
  • Are your bathrooms functional, pleasing spaces? Do you or family members have special needs (e.g. grab bars, easy-entrance shower stalls, etc.)?
  • As you walk through your rooms, jot down your favorite qualities about each. Do you like the proportions? Is there adequate ventilation and lighting throughout your house?
  • Are there any rooms that you don’t use regularly? Could any of these rooms be used for more than one function? Could any of these rooms be used for a completely different function?
  • Does your home balance open space and private areas?
  • Does the entryway do its job of setting the stage for the rest of your home by welcoming guests and making a statement about the people who live there? If you normally come into your home through the garage, does that area welcome you?

Focus on Your Challenges

A designer works best when you share your “wish list,” express your ideas, and then keep an open mind. That means communicating how you want to live in the space and then entrusting the designer to make it happen. After all, you hired this person for her experience, talent and vision!

For example, one homeowner hired a designer to help her reorganize her tiny office so she could be more productive. Instead, the designer suggested that she move her entire operation downstairs, into the den she used once every two months to watch movies. She did, tripling her space and doubling her productivity in just three months.

Contrary to TV, where designers admonish clients for questioning their plans, real-life designers understand that you’re the person who ultimately needs to love the space. They want you to be happy and want you to give your input so you’re absolutely thrilled with the results (and so you’ll recommend them to your friends)! That’s why they do so much probing upfront about your tastes and how you live, then incrementally present their ideas throughout the process.

Hiring a designer is like giving a gift to yourself! You made the smart decision to hire an Interior Designer, you’ve been smart about the planning process, and now you can rest assured that the time, money and energy you spend returns truly smart, stunning results!

Interior Designers Make Great Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Franchise Owners

More and more interior designers are investing in a kitchen and bath remodeling franchise as an addition to their line of aesthetic services. Interior designers may get started in the industry by recommending decor elements, paint colors, and design accessories. By learning about kitchen and bath remodeling, though, they increase their profit potential while still using their eye for good design.

A Passion for Design

One reason they make such excellent kitchen and bath remodeling franchise owners is their existing passion for design. Design passion is not something that can be taught, but it is the most important factor that determines one’s success in the business. Marketing, business management, and even remodeling skills can all be taught, but passion for design is the fertile soil in which these seeds are planted.

Knowledge of Design Trends and Aesthetics

Interior designers also have a basic knowledge and understanding of design trends and aesthetics, and this is very valuable when owning a kitchen and bath remodeling franchise. Customers are more interested in visual appeal and appearance than structural integrity and high quality construction when selecting a kitchen or bath remodel expert. A background in interior design shows the customer that they’re dealing with someone who can turn their vision into a reality. Investing in a kitchen and bath remodeling franchise, that emphasizes quality and precision is icing on the cake for potential clients.

The Self-Starting Factor

An individual who has pursued a side-income with interior design work has a special personality factor that is invaluable for kitchen and bath remodeling franchise owners: the ability to self-start. Working for oneself is a dream that many share, but only a few select individuals have the motivation and perseverance necessary to make that dream a reality. Interior designers already know the challenges associated with starting a small business, so they are prepared for the hard work and dedication required.

Utilize Existing Contacts and Customers

Many interior designers already have elaborate client lists and customer contacts that they can tap into when seeking new jobs and higher profits. If an interior designer helped a customer choose beautiful wall colors, for example, that relationship will become quite profitable if that customer decides to remodel a kitchen or bath at a later date. Forming business contacts is the hardest part of any startup opportunity, and interior designers have a head start.

Equipping Designers for Next-Level Business Success

When interior designers choose a kitchen and bath remodeling franchise, they are immediately provided with all of the tools and resources they need to take their business to the next level. Starting a remodeling business from the ground up is grueling work. Designers have to worry about things like web marketing, logo design and branding, reputation establishment, and much more. Designers who choose a kitchen and bath remodeling franchise, however, can tap into the existing support programs and benefit from the reputation for high quality services with which potential customers are already familiar.

They make excellent franchise owners, and a kitchen and bath remodeling franchise is a great way to capitalize on existing contacts and customers by providing additional services to clients and tackling higher-paying jobs.

Marketing Tips For Interior Designers

The other day, I was chatting with my friend, who happens to be an interior designer, and I remarked that it must be pretty easy to get work doing what he does. He stared at me and then started laughing. After he had quit cackling, he explained to me that interior design work wasn’t as glamorous as the TV shows made it sound. There’s a lot of real work involved, and even when you are excellent at what you do, you won’t always have people banging down your door to get you to design their houses and workspaces. By taking a quick look at some of the marketing tips for interior designers that my friend passed on to me, and taking a look at what I’ve figured out my own, you’ll soon see that there are some things that are essential.

First, you will need a professionally designed web page. Because people are going to be looking at you to design their living spaces and their work spaces, you’ll find that you need to grab them with your design aesthetic the moment they get to your page. Of course, a well-designed web space has nothing to do with how good you are at your job, but it’s all about presentation and awareness. If you have a web page that’s dark, cramped, poorly designed and ugly, you’ll find that no matter what your portfolio looks like that people will assume that’s how your design works. If you are not a professional at web design, it’s worth the money that you spend to hire someone who is.

Many good marketing tips for interior designers will be associated with how you can make people remember you. Whenever you finish a job, offer your client a way to get in touch with you. Whether you decide that you want to do this in the form of a magnet or some sort of client gift like a pen or an umbrella or gift basket, you’ll find that by leaving something of yourself in their home, you’ll make yourself accessible to anyone who comes in, whether they are guests or family. My friend suggests something like a magnet or a calender, because it is useful and people will always keep it handy.

Finally, remember to keep records of all of your work. You should always be able to give samples of what you can do and how you got there. The more progression shots that you can show online, the more you’ll be able to tell prospective customers how you are going to work some magic on their spaces. While of course you should have these pictures up on your website, you’ll find that having a hard copy that you keep to show clients in your office is another thing you can do.

My friend had a lot to say about marketing tips for interior designers but most of it could be summed up by saying “don’t let them forget you.” Remember that networking is a big deal, and that you have do a fair amount of it to get to where you want to be!