How to Hire an Interior Designer

Ever since designers like Martha Stewart brought home design to the masses, interior design is no longer looked at as something that is only for the wealthy. Fabrics are offered from a range of $5.00 to over $300.00 a yard. Individual designers and companies bill differently as well. Some designers have incorporated a flat fee rate system so monthly billing is no longer a guessing game, while others bill at an hourly rate. Some designers shop retail while others only deal with showrooms who sell “to the trade”. With all of these different types of designers, how do you select the person or company that is right for you? This guide will give you tips and questions to ask potential designers in order to help you gain some perspective on this popular and overwhelming field.

Define Your Project. Define Your Budget.
Where are the Interior Designers?
What Can I Expect From My Designer?

Define Your Project!
Defining your project will help you to reveal what type of designer you are looking for as well as provide you with the questions to ask your potential designer.
Ask Yourself:

  1. Is this a residential or commercial project?
  2. Is there possible construction involved, for example, an added addition or expansion, renovating existing rooms, or renovating kitchens and bathrooms?
  3. What type of budget do you have in mind? Does this budget include your designers’ fee or is it only for materials and labor?
  4. Do you currently have contractors, builders, painters, tile installers or other trades-people to perform the necessary construction and labor? Will you need your designer to provide these people?
  5. Do you have any current plans or building specifications for your space that will save some time for your designer and cost for you?
  6. Describe your style preference in a few words. Do you like spaces that are light and airy feeling? Maybe you love the Victorian period and want to replicate that design era? Pulling images from magazines will help you to decipher what your interior design taste is, as well as communicate it better to your potential designer.
  7. What is your time schedule? Do you have to be settled in at a certain point or are you more flexible with your timing?
  8. What specific requirements do you have? If this is an office space, for example, you may need a certain number of offices or desk areas. If it is a residential space, you may need a certain amount of bedrooms or guest rooms.

You should share these project requirements with potential designers in order to see if they are comfortable with your needs. Some may not be able to begin the work immediately, or some may not want to handle a certain type of renovation or construction work.

Define Your Budget
Figuring out your budget is one of them most important things you can do in order to figure out which designer will be right for you.

Ask Yourself:

  1. Is hiring a designer within your budget?
  2. What is your estimated budget for the entire project. Now multiply that by 2 in order to allow for things that can go wrong or that you didnt account for. Is this still a feasible amount?
  3. What is the most important item or part of your project? This will be where you want to put most of your money.

Make a list of items and vendors that you will need. For example, if you are renovating a bathroom, your list would look something like this:

  • Toilet
  • Sink
  • Sink Vanity
  • Sink Faucet
  • Bathtub
  • Bathtub Faucet
  • Shower Faucet
  • Shower
  • Shower Doors
  • Bidet
  • Tiles and Stone


  • Painter
  • Plumber
  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Tile person

Making a list like this will help you to get an idea of what is needed to complete your project.

Where are the Interior Designers?
Now that you have defined your interior design project as well as outlined your budget, then next step is to interview potential interior designers. So where do you begin looking for these candidates? Word of mouth is a good source when looking for a designer. If someone you like and respect has used a designer they liked, then an interview with that person is a good idea. Ask around your community or office building and see who other people have used in the past. If a recommendation is unavailable, try searching through accredited interior design websites for their listing of recommended interior designers. Checking out your local paper is also a good idea for certain design resources.

What Can I Expect from my Interior Designer?
Your interior designer can become a big part of your life over the course of your design project. They will be spending time working with you closely in order to go over details regarding the way you live, work, eat, sleep, bathe and any other details that help in designing an appropriate space for you. Here are some things that you should expect from a good designer on a first interview:

  1. A good connection! You should feel comfortable and at ease with this person. If their personality is very far off from yours, it will not create a pleasant work situation or a good result in your design.
  2. A good listener! An interior designer is there to design for you, not for themselves. A good interior designer should have the skills to listen to their client’s needs and wants, then translate those needs and wants into a successful interior.
  3. Interest in your project. All designers are not interested in all design work. If you candidate is not taking you seriously or seems distracted, then chances are even if they take the job, it will get put on the backburner. Suggestions and Resources. Interior designers should offer some basic suggestions and solutions to any issues that you present to them. Even if it is a free initial consultation, a good designer and business person will show themselves to be a valuable resource to you at the time of the .interview.

The interior design field has become very broad. It is important that you define your project needs and general budget in order to find the designer that is best suited to your job. Personality is also important, so don’t hire anyone that you do not like of feel comfortable with even if they came recommended. Each person works differently, and what works for one may not work for another.