HOW TO
Bedroom designed by interior designer Marie Flanigan Interiors

Should I Hire A Designer?

To hire a designer or not to hire a designer, that is the question. Marie Flanigan of Marie Flanigan Interiors walks us through when and how to hire a professional.
Marie Flanigan

Marie Flanigan

Marie Says…

Of course you’re talented! We’re guessing you’re also creative. You know beauty. You understand elegance. You know what you love and you know what you don’t.

But does your home reflect these qualities? Regardless of how impeccable your design taste may be, everyone needs a little help pulling it all together sometimes. Hiring an interior designer can be an intimidating and confusing process, but it doesn’t have to be.

Living room Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors
Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors

How does the design process work?

Each designer has a unique process. Typically this process will start with an initial consultation (some designers charge for this and some don’t; be sure to ask ahead of time) followed by the development of a design presentation for your review and approval. Once all designs have been approved, a designer can help you with overall project management, purchasing and installation. The options are endless. Before engaging a designer, consider whether you are interested in a professional who can offer you general design suggestions at an hourly rate, or if you would prefer someone who can complete a turn-key design and installation. Most designers are happy to tailor their services to your needs, but it’s helpful if everyone is on the same page from the start of the project.

Bedroom Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors
Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors

What should I consider when choosing a designer?

Take a look at the designer’s portfolio. Most designers feature their premier projects on their websites. It’s important that you like what you see, but more important than that is the personal connection between you and a potential designer. Do your personalities click? Is this someone you would enjoy working closely with over the course of the project? Be honest about this and you will thank yourself later! It doesn’t matter if you have the most expensive, highly coveted designer in the industry; if you don’t connect on a more personal level, you will likely leave the experience unhappy.

Are there any important questions to ask as I interview a designer?

I suggest treating this like any other interview. Ask them to provide a resume along with a list of references you can call. Inquire about their typical project size and budget, and be sure they are comfortable handling your level of project.

Another thing many people don’t consider is how important it can be to hire a designer who is capable of seeing the big picture. Be sure that they not only understand fine art and furnishings, but that they are also well-versed in areas like construction, lighting, and architectural design. If everything seems to be a nice fit, inquire about pricing. If they charge hourly, make sure to ask how much design time they think the project will require.

Bathroom Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors
Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors

How much should I expect to pay?

Designer fee structures can take many forms. In regards to the actual design fees, some designers charge an hourly rate and those can range from $50 – $250 per hour. That’s where it becomes important to ask up-front how many hours they expect your particular design may take; this will only be an estimation, but it helps! Other designers charge a flat rate per design project which is normally based on the square footage or per room they will be working on.

As far as procurement, purchasing, and installation of furnishings are concerned, designers typically charge a mark-up on their discounted costs. That being said, most designers typically purchase pieces at a discounted price (ranging from 10%-50% off the retail tag) so clients often end up paying a similar amount than they would pay purchasing pieces on their own. Just one of the perks of working with an interior designer!

Bedroom Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors
Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors

What are the benefits I can expect when working with a professional?

There are quite a few! Your initial design presentation should display what your end result will look and feel like before you purchase any piece of furniture. This full design concept and plan-of-action help you avoid making mistakes throughout the process, saving you money in the long run. Designers are professionals who do this on a daily basis. They consider the project as a whole without just focusing on one piece of furniture or element. Interior designers can utilize existing furnishings in ways you may never have considered, and most importantly, they are by your side, helping to guide you through the process. In the end, you want to love your home and not resent the steps it took you to create it; that’s what it’s all about.

Are there any downsides to working with a designer?

Though it can seem more expensive than venturing off to purchase furniture on your own and setting up your space independently, clients often find that they end up saving money and precious time in the long run using a designer because they avoid costly mistakes. What kind of mistakes? Poor paint and fabric choices, hard finishes and/or furniture pieces that aren’t functional or don’t impress once installed, the list goes on.

Study Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors
Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors

How can I be sure that the final product will accurately represent me?

Focus on communicating your wants and desires during the initial consultation. Be sure the designer is familiar with your style and shares an interest in representing you and your life through your home. Don’t be afraid to critique the design during the presentation; this is your time to be sure you get exactly what you want. Feedback is good and a professional designer will listen closely to your likes and dislikes. You are paying for a service. Work with the designer until you are fully satisfied and thrilled with the final product.

How can I find a designer in my area?

Start with referrals from friends and family. They know you best and will likely suggest someone they are confident you will work well with. You can also use sites like Casaza to find designers, read interviews to learn about them, and review their portfolios.

Living room Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors
Design by Marie Flanigan Interiors

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