What Questions Should You Ask Your Interior Designer Before Hiring?
If you’re looking for an interior designer, you’ve probably asked your friends for referrals, browsed through Houzz, or typed “interior designers close to me” and stalked a few online. Once you find a couple that resonate with you, you’re ready for the next step. You schedule a discovery call.
This step is essential.
Almost all designers offer a free consultation (usually 20ish) minutes to ask questions, get to know each other, and discover if you two are a good fit. If this is your first rodeo, you probably aren’t sure what to ask… or what to look for in their answers. But you absolutely should.
When you hire a designer, you are putting your trust, money, and time into the hands of this person and their team. You want to make sure you connect, completely understand what they offer, and that they are conscious of your budget. This is an important 20-30 minutes!
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with 5 questions you should ask your interior designer before hiring, along with a guide to interpreting their responses. Let’s begin…
From our Beach House project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston
Q1. How would you describe your design style?
Why: You want to like your designer’s style, and you probably stalked their portfolio already. That’s why you booked a call with them. This question gives the designer a chance to communicate their style and gives you the ability to understand their specialty better.
Designers are talented and can often turn any vision (regardless of style) into reality. But if you hire someone who specializes in the style you want, you will be happier with the process and results.
P.S. They may ask you this question, too! So be prepared to describe the style you are looking for and materials you are interested in using. If you’re not sure, try image-searching design styles like transitional, modern, contemporary, traditional, eclectic, etc.
What to look for in the answer: “My design style is X, but I design for all styles. This is not my home I am designing; it is yours. I will work with you to uncover your personal style and achieve the best possible outcome for your home.”
At Coddington, we start our projects with an in-depth questionnaire. We go deep to fully understand your vision and you get a dreamy space in your ideal style.
From our San Francisco Style Project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston
Q2. What kind of client do you like to work with?
Why: You want to vibe with your designer. When you work with an interior designer on a project (that can last years), you often get to know each other well, and they become a trusted friend.
Get a clear understanding of how they will manage their project (the way you want it to be managed) and let them know how hands-on you want to be. These factors can make or break a project or at least make it more difficult, so make sure your priorities align.
What to look for in the answer? Honesty. Bluntly put, the client/interior designer relationship will not work if you do not trust your designer or if they aren’t happy working with you. You want clear communication, not hazy answers to simple questions.
At Coddington Design, we strive to work with clients who respect and trust our process and are fun to work with. If we’re not a good fit, we’re comfortable telling you so that you can find the right one. We love working with badass women who range from leaders in the tech industry or stay-at-home moms giving 110% to their families. Like I said, FUN!
From our San Francisco Victorian project. Photographer: Vivian Johnson
Q3. Have you worked on a project like mine before?
Why: Although you’ve drooled over their portfolio online, you can always ask if they have other examples of their work. Designers don’t always publish all of their projects online, so when in doubt, ask. You also learn about the full breadth of their work and talents. You want the full picture to make a confident decision.
What to look for in an answer: “Yes! Would you like to speak to the client that we worked with for a reference?” Then, when a designer offers up all their details, you can make the best decision for you and your family because it will impact all of you!
Q4. What happens if I don’t like the design?
Why: Designers should have a plan for this. Their design process should include a “get to know you” phase and multiple rounds of presentations to get it right.
What to look for in the answer: First, they will probably share their discovery process. The more in-depth at the outset, the better the results. You should also hear them say something like, “We will never push a particular design if it’s not suitable for you. We will work with you until we get it right.”
You are investing time and money into this project and you want to LOVE the results. Designers who don’t leave space for changes in their designs will leave you disappointed with the result.
At Coddington, we’re different from your last designer, and we’re nosey in the best way. We ask smart, pointed questions, like “Where do you eat breakfast?” or “Where do you put your keys when you come home?” Our designs reflect your family and lifestyle entirely, and we work to get it right.
From our Beach House project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston
Q5. How do you charge for your services, and can you work within my budget?
Why: Designers may keep you guessing until they feel like you’ve been “hooked” on their services. If they aren’t transparent with their cost, it may indicate how they will communicate about your project’s budget. You want honest, upfront communication, not a vague answer.
They should be open about pricing from the beginning, because you are handing over thousands of dollars (even hundreds of thousands of dollars) and trusting them to use your investment wisely.
What to look for in the answer: Our services and fees are right on our website, so you know them before you get on a discovery call with us. Most designers don’t do this, so listen for a simple yes or no answer and a very concrete process for allocating your funds toward your project.
At Coddington, we believe in complete transparency and honesty with our clients. If we cannot work within your budget (though we are likely to have a service that fits), we will tell you immediately.
Final Words of Advice
Trust your gut. Sometimes, your subconscious mind knows that something isn’t quite right, even if you can’t logically explain it. If you feel a real connection with your designer — and the questions above align with great answers — you are well on your way to a successful project and a beautiful result. Good luck!
Want to work with us? First, you can check out our portfolio (we’re proud of it) and then set up a discovery call with us. We promise to act surprised when you ask us these 5 questions… 😉