I have seen & heard so many stories with people unhappy with their designers & completely disgruntled. I want to say starting off, just because you didn't have a good relationship with 1 designer doesn't mean that you won't with another, you don't give up on hair dressers after 1 bad cut, so please don't give up on designers. Here are 5 tips for hiring the perfect designer for you!
1. Look at a few different designers portfolios. Don't look at every designer that you can find, you'll start getting confused. Try to have an idea of the criteria you're looking for & stick to those. Then exam the designers portfolios, I mean really look at them. Do the designers rooms really function well or are they just pretty? Look for a designer with a diverse portfolio. A diverse portfolio shows the designers ability to design for her clients style, not just her own style. This also shows a designers ability to listen. A designer that specializes in one style will only be willing to create that one style for you, so be sure you love the style before you commit to the designer!
2. Always interview your designer before you agree to any terms. Most designers offer a free initial 1/2- 1 hour meeting. A good designer will ask a lot of questions to get to know you, get a feel for your style & space & how you plan to use the space. Ask the designer a lot of questions, try to think of some beforehand. How much do you charge? Do you charge extra for subcontractors? Do you do your own drawings or do you hire it out? What has been your favorite project to this point? Etc.
3. Pay attention to your instincts. Just because a designer has a good reputation or a beautiful website doesn't mean that you will click with the designer. Chemistry is an important part of any relationship. There will be times you question your projects direction, the costs, the fabric on the sofa, etc. When those times arise it's very important that you feel comfortable enough with your designer to discuss how you feel.
4. Read the online reviews, but remember to only keep them in mind, don't base a decision solely on them. If you interview a designer with poor reviews be sure you ask her about them. She should be able to explain the situation, maybe it's her fault, maybe it wasn't. I feel the important part of determining if this designer should be considered is if you feel she's being honest & open with you about the situation. Everyone has business deals that go sour, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are bad at what they do or that they are incompetent. If you don't feel like her answer was honest, that same feeling is likely to follow you through the entire project. Also remember that just because a designer doesn't have any reviews it doesn't mean that you need to be concerned. Her clients may not know where to review or just simply aren't interested in putting their names on the internet.
5. Be sure to ask the designer how she handles the project and herself when things go wrong. They will go wrong & it's not necessarily your designers fault. A sofa won't be delivered in time for your big party, your bedding is made for the wrong sized bed, the wallpaper never loses it's smell. Things go wrong, it's life. But your designer is a professional and she should know how to handle these things for you. That said, I once had a potential client ask me, "if I decide I don't like the paint color, who pays to change it?". The answer to that is the client does. Your designer should require you to sign off on selections & purchases before they are purchased or installed. Hiring a designer is not a way to get your home down for free. I promptly ended the meeting & sent the man a letter declining the project & a list of other designers he could contact.
I hope this helps in your search for your perfect designer! Do you have any thoughts or experiences to share?