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Working With an Interior Designer

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Part 2: Communication is Key

If you've ever thought about working with an interior designer, some doubts might have stopped you cold.

Fearing it would be too expensive, or that you'd get stuck with a room you wouldn't like, you may have given up on the idea altogether.

However, using a design professional can, and should, be a good experience. It can give your home continuity, function, and beauty. And it doesn't have to go over your budget.

Working with a designer can save you money in many situations by allocating resources wisely, eliminating decorating mistakes, and increasing creative thinking about your project.

Finding an interior designer is much easier once you have the right information. Last week's article titled, "How to Hire an Interior Designer" related some of the tips and informative Net Links available on this topic. In addition, similar resources can be found on the Net Links page on this site.

Prepare yourself - Decide on a budget. Collect color swatches you like. Have pictures to illustrate what you like and what you don't like. Think about the furniture pieces you hope to keep. Listen to all ideas, but never go against your heart.

So, once you've found a designer, what happens next? How can you be helpful, remain in control, and ultimately end up with a design that is pleasing? Again, the resources on the Internet have the information you'll need. A good place to start is this overview of design professional fees.

Communicate with your Designer - Listen. Talk. Listen. That's it in a nutshell. The designer will tell you your concept of the project, and be frank about your budget limitations (everyone has them).

Finances - Which brings us to money. No one likes sticking to a budget, but everyone has one. Be conservative. Plan a project with goals and phase-in purchases over a few months or years if necessary. Make sure you're very clear on exactly how you'll be charged, when your designer needs deposits, how you'll be billed, what you get, and when the work should be complete. Will you be charged for phone calls, shopping trips, or in-home consultations? Are purchases marked up or discounted?

Each designer has a different way of working and various fee structures, whether a flat fee, hourly fee, or percentage of purchases. Even if you don't want to spend a fortune, there are many ways to use a designer on a very tight budget. Start small if you wish, using a designer for a short time on an hourly basis for a specific project.

Getting the Design You Want - The more information you can give to your designer the better. Your needs, your preferences, and your hopes can be conveyed in both words and pictures. Collect photos from magazines of rooms, furniture, and color schemes you like, and use these to illustrate your ideas. This will give your designer a place to start in creating a design specifically for you. (Make an extra set of color copies if needed.) See the article on Inspiration if you don't know where to start. In addition, learn how to make your own project design file to get you organized.

Online Design Help - There are also some interior designers that offer online design advice and planning for a fee. Several of these are listed on the Hiring An Interior Designer Net Links page. You'll need to submit a questionnaire with information about your project, along with your room dimensions or a floorplan, and any questions or elements that need to be considered. Read details on each of these sites to learn about the report you will receive, and the fees charged for each service.

However you choose to proceed with your project, whether you consult with a designer online or in person, by the hour or the day, for a room or your entire home -- you're sure to learn a lot and have a more beautiful and functional living space as well.

Previous page: How to Hire an Interior Designer

 ~ Glenna J. Morton
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