1. Personality – if you are going to work collaboratively with your interior designer then you must both get on and like each other. You must be able to be honest with each other. If you are the designer, this means respecting the clients home and their choices and decisions. It’s not your home after all!
2. Photographs – much has been said about whether you need these as a designer and whether clients should even bother to ask for them. I don’t think they are imperative. It is much more useful to visit a job that has been done or is even in the process of being renovated to see what is possible and how the designer works.
3. Asking The Right Questions – when will the work need to start, what are the budget constraints, what are the clients ideas and what timing needs to be adhered to. Your designer should ask these questions and as the client, you should be prepared to answer them honestly.
4. Taking Notes – when choosing an interior designer, pay close attention to how much attention she is paying to you and your property. They should be taking notes and notice. Access to the property, wooden floors and acoustic levels, hours of work that can be completed within the property and neighbours – all this should be noted and recognised.
5. Suppliers – most designers won’t give you a list of their workmen and companies that they source from so you don’t need to ask if you’re the client. I’ve recorded another podcast on this – listen to this here.
6. Where can I find an interior designer? – recommendation every time. You can go to your country’s institute for interior design if they have one, but honestly, go with a recommendation or failing that, look into a local magazine and see who is featured and who advertises there.
7. Insurance – everyone should have it. Especially any builders that you employ. Interior designers should have indemnity insurance. I do, but I have, thankfully, never needed it.
8. How Much Do Interior Designers Cost? – this is the holy grail of questions and the answer is not straightforward. Hourly rates, percentage of building costs, stand alone fees that are split into installments – all of these are used and are acceptable, depending on what the designers set up is. The easiest way is the percentage option, because if you are running hourly contracts then timesheets are necessary. Make sure that as clients, you have read the terms and conditions and if you are the designer – make your terms and conditions are clear from the outset!
9. Schedule of Work – no, not the builders schedule of work but yours, as a designer. Clients and designers must know who is doing what and who has the responsibility to choose and purchase items. If there is overlap – it just wastes time. Make sure everything is clear before you start. Who is buying, when you are meeting and when and how often updates are needed.
10. Extra Jobs – storage, removals, renting another property, cleaning..even selling old items..all these options need to be spoken about and nailed down before work starts.