1) KNOW WITH WHOM YOU ARE DOING BUSINESS
Anyone can call themselves an Interior Designer or Decorator no matter what their qualifications are. Is the person certified? The California Council for Interior Designers Certification (CCIDC) can provide you with a list for those qualified in your area. Then check them out thoroughly: look at their website for information; read their client testimonials. If you are hiring a “name” designer, find out who will actually be doing the work: the qualified professional, or a junior designer or an intern in their firm? Who will you be dealing with directly? How long have they been practicing? Do they have Interior Design Education?
2) CHECK THEIR WORK
Call their references; Look at recent work done by them & even try to visit projects.
Ask how long the projects took to complete. Ask if their projects came in on budget or not.
3) BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Have a clear understanding of what you would like to accomplish. Find photos of similar examples of what you are looking for. Establish a realistic budget & timetable.
4) GET A PROPER AGREEMENT OR CONTRACT
Ask for their Standard Agreement, or a Scope of Services for your specific project
Make sure the agreement spells out the scope & fees to be paid to the Interior Designer. Make sure the agreement spells out how & when the fees are to be paid. Ask about insurance for shipping damages or construction errors.
5) ESTABLISH A BUDGET
Have a realistic budget in mind, or pay the designer to prepare a Preliminary Budget based on the scope of services & your goals. Make sure the budget includes taxes, delivery charges, and other costs.
6) BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Things may take longer to get and cost more. When demolishing existing interiors, surprises can be found that will take longer and can cost more. Establish a Contingency Fund for the unexpected. Delays will happen! Be prepared to compromise, to keep the project moving along. Listen to the design professional who will guide you through the entire process.
7) THE TRAUMA OF REMODELING
Know ahead of time, remodeling is a disruption, particularly if you live in the house during the process. There will be dust, noise, lots of people in the way…Don’t get in the way and don’t supervise. Leave that to your professional designer to deal with.
8) LISTEN TO THE PROFESSIONAL
You searched and found a qualified, licensed professional designer and are paying them for their expertise…so remember to listen to them. Don’t ask every family member, your neighbors, your friends, or your social network for advice, in the middle of the project. The designer should have only one customer, You! (Resolve issues with your spouse & communicate decisions as one unit; don’t expect your designer to be a marriage counselor)!