Remodeling? Consider Hiring an Interior Designer

So, you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen or bath, or that unfinished basement that’s been sitting idle for years. Congratulations! While your imagination already has you lounging in that new soaker tub, the reality is there are a lot of decisions and unknown factors standing between you and the bath of your dreams. Hiring an interior designer can make the project go more smoothly, and will also help reduce stress so you can enjoy the process.

Designer Versus Decorator
It’s a common misunderstanding that interior designers and interior decorators are interchangeable, but generally, that isn’t true. Interior designers have typically gone to college to learn about architecture and construction, building codes, scale and functional room design, as well as décor elements such as color, texture and finishes. Their education helps them speak the language – well, the appropriate language anyway – of contractors working on your project.

Interior designers will also coordinate timelines with the various contractors and product vendors to ensure your project is completed on time. And most know how to use CAD software to create project drawings. Through experience and classes, some interior decorators may also have some of the skills of interior designers, but that’s typically not the case.

Identifying Prospective Designers
So, you’ve decided to hire a designer for your project? Good. Now, where to begin? We recommend you start with this checklist provided by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). It will help you get your head around your project and your specific needs.

Next, you’ll want to identify two or three designers to interview. The easiest way to find a designer is to ask for referrals from family and friends (actual or the social media type). Ask them about their experience with the designer: Was the designer easy to work with? Thorough? Creative at solving problems, as well as in providing décor recommendations? Accommodating? A master of the timeline? A strong communicator? Was your friend pleased with the outcome? What could have gone better on her project? Get a sense of the designer’s strengths and weaknesses.

If your family and friends turn up dry for recommendations, you can search the Internet or designer databases hosted by the ASID, the National Council on Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) or the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) for prospective designers in your area.

As you explore designers’ websites, pay particular attention to their project portfolio to see if you like their style and to learn about their experience with a project of your size and scope.

You’ll also want to note the designers’ credentials. Are they accredited by the ASID or certified by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA)? Are they licensed by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ)? Some states now require anyone referring to themselves as an interior designer to pass the NCIDQ qualifying test, which confirms designers’ education and training to protect public health, safety and welfare in the course of their work.

Interviewing Prospective Designers
After vetting potential design partners and narrowing the list down to two or three, here are some questions to ask them. Their answers will help you choose the right designer for your project.

  • Can they accommodate your timeline?
  • How do they charge for their services? By the project? By the hour? By materials cost plus the standard industry mark-up?
  • What elements of your project are they comfortable handling?
  • What is their experience with similar projects?
  • Are they licensed, bonded and insured?
  • What subcontractors would they suggest and what are their qualifications?
  • Are the subcontractors licensed, bonded and insured?
  • Can they work within your budget?
  • What challenges do they see with your project? What are their initial thoughts for overcoming those challenges?
  • How do they keep clients updated on the project status? Regular meetings? Email? Web-enabled program? Consider what works best for you.

Of course, we’d throw in the question: “Where do you see a Heat & Glo fireplace fitting into the project?”

With a little homework and forethought, an interior designer can help ensure that your remodeling project goes smoothly. From all of us at Heat & Glo, good luck with remodeling!

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