A First Timer’s Guide To Working With An Interior Designer

by Devna Tiwari | January 29, 2024 | 4 mins read

Choose the best interior designers for your first time home interiors work

Is this your first time hiring an interior designer? This guide will set your expectations straight.

Working with an interior designer can be a fun and game-changing experience for homeowners. However, if you haven’t worked with one before, setting your expectations straight is crucial in this journey from idea to execution. Our guide here, created for first timer’s, gives you the low down on hiring and working with interior design professionals.

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Keep Your Expectations Realistic

Reality TV is anything but real. If you’ve watched popular interior design shows where designers pull off projects on tight deadlines and shoestring budgets just know that it is a dramatised version of reality. A home interior project is a mammoth task that takes a minimum of six months to complete and is definitely not light on your pocket. Unlike what is depicted on such shows, homeowners also bear the cost of labour and materials apart from a designer’s fee. On TV, the cost of labour is built into the budget of the show. 

What is important to know is that hiring extra labour means your home gets done faster. So if you have an extra buck or two to spare it is not a bad idea to invest in more manpower. And remember every project is unique when it comes to timelines and cost. So do ask your designer for an estimate on both aspects upfront. It is wise to meet multiple designers before choosing one that suits your budget and holds the promise of delivering everything you desire.

A first timer’s guide to working with an interior designer

Take Your Time

Not every designer is alike. Like all of us, interior designers too have their own sense of style and way of doing business. What’s important here is to be on the same page. Both of you must go through all details of your home interior plan – cost, timelines, design – for seamless execution. This first meeting is called a consultation. It can be in person or over a call. Some firms/ design professionals offer it free while others charge. Ask to see your interior designer’s portfolio and understand their design as well as the business process. How will they bill you? How will they keep in touch with you during the course of your project?

Do set your expectations straight with respect to your requirements from the project. Share sample images of designs you fancy so your interior designer understands your quirks and personal taste better. The whole purpose of this exercise is to ensure that by the end of this meeting both sides know if it’s a fit.

There Is No Standard Billing Structure

Interior designers not only design your home but their billing structure too. They typically have two ways of functioning – an hourly or flat fee. The latter is a lump sum amount that includes the cost of material, labour and an interior designer’s professional fee. Ensure you know the cost of their services upfront. A reliable designer will give you a clear estimate before they take on your home interior project. A quotation is a must. If your designer is dodgy on this, look elsewhere!

Communication Is Crucial

Poor communication between your designer and you can be hazardous. It is the secret ingredient to ensure a job well done. Don’t hesitate to share ideas, thoughts or ask questions outright. At the end of the day, you are paying and your happiness stands above all. Ask any designer, a customer that communicates makes their job easier! It is a clear indicator of a happy partnership. So if you want changes to a plan ask away! Having said that feedback is essential to the future of this partnership too. It makes an interior designer’s life simpler and changes can be made quickly too.

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Devna Tiwari is a content writer at Design Cafe's home interiors blog.

Devna Tiwari

Devna Tiwari is a content writer at DesignCafe and comes with four years of experience. She walks undeterred, heads up against all odds and sits down to write about them. When she is not out there capturing every moment to permanence or trying out new restaurants, she is busy planning her next voyage. She is also the author of the book The Surrogate Girlfriend.

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