How to pick an interior designer

Whether you are building a home or giving your existing home a much-needed makeover, you can really benefit from the expertise offered by an interior designer who is professionally trained to make your living space look great. An interior designer helps solve interior decoration problems so that your furnishings no longer look out of place, colors no longer clash, and styles no longer drift into miscellaneous themes.

Once you’ve decided that hiring an interior designer is right for you, the next question is how to pick the right one. Since the recession has made everyone much more frugal, you will want to do quite a bit of research to make sure that you find someone who will buy the best pieces of furniture and artwork at the lowest prices.

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Here are the top 4 criteria to use in judging potential candidates for your interior design job:

Education and certification

The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) administers exams that cover design, building codes, and project management skills. By demanding a certified designer, you will ensure that you are hiring a professional who is able to provide you with all the right information. Those who pass certification examinations are not only well-educated about all aspects of interior decorating and the legal issues related to renovation, but they also have to take tests every few years to make sure that they stay aware of the latest changes in industry standards. Be aware that is possible to hire designers or decorators, but who did not go through the comprehensive training required by those who have elected to be certified in this trade. By hiring such a designer, you are taking a calculated risk that I do not recommend.

Personal Compatibility

In your decision-making process, you will also need to consider personality and taste. You must find someone who you get along with, because you will have to work with them for a while to get your project done right. Besides helping you with your current needs, you may also have to call upon them in the future when you decide to update your interior design if you had a good experience the first time. For this reason it’s important to do more than just look at key qualifications and review a designer’s portfolio.

Budgetary considerations

You should find someone who is willing to work within your budget. Especially in today’s uncertain economic climate, it’s important to talk about budgetary considerations from the very beginning. Some designers will only work on jobs that are of a particular size. You will need to find someone who can work within a payment plan that you like. The American Society of Interior designers have identified three pricing structures: A flat fee for all services, an hourly rate, or a cost-plus plan. While a flat fee and an hourly rate plan needs no explanation, the cost-plus plan is something rather unique to the world of interior designers. With a cost-plus plan, the interior designer will buy everything needed for decoration at cost but will then sell it to you as an agreed upon mark up. In addition to these three ways of paying, an interior designer may ask for a combined payment plan. For example, they may ask to be paid a fixed fee to begin the process and then change to a cost-plus pricing structure to execute the plan. By getting clear on the designers pricing structure and your expectations about the designer working within your budget, you will avoid possible conflict once the project begins.

Style

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you have a clear idea of how you would like things to be done, then you will want to work with a designer who is willing to accommodate your tastes. You can find a certified, friendly, and cheap designer, but if he/she pictures a room that you don’t like then you should find someone else. Alternatively, if you are flexible on what exactly you want, then you may be comfortable with designers who have a signature line or a unique approach. Just make sure that you see examples before you give the designer too much free reign over the project.

If you find a designer who meets these criteria, snap him/her up before somebody else beats you to it. If you manage this, you will surely look back on the period of work and smile in your newly-designed home!

Allison Cooper writes for discount online furniture retailer Beyond Stores. In addition to her position at Beyond Stores, Allison frequently blogs about food, budgeting, and interior design on various other sites.

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