You have been thinking about meeting with an interior designer for a long time but have never taken the plunge. Maybe there is a little fear of the unknown – how much will it cost, what will the process be like, will it be a waste of money? These are some of the questions we know people have before calling a designer. The best place to start is to arrange a consultation which is a small investment but allows you to get to know a designer a little and work out if they are the kind of person you can enjoy working with and whom you feel understand what you are wanting. An initial consultation is a meeting where you and a designer are coming together to discuss your project in detail and work out whether you are a good fit to work on your project.
This consultation is really important as the designer/client relationship is one where you let your walls down and allow someone into your personal space. There has to be a connection and trust built from the start in order for a successful project to occur.
What does a design consultation include?
A consultation usually takes place in the space that is to be renovated or decorated but can also take place in the office of the designer, especially for new builds. During this initial meeting, the designer will do a walk through of the space and discuss with you what your goals are for the project, how many rooms or spaces are involved and very importantly, what is the budget you have set to achieve your goals! Sometimes it is difficult to know what the budget should be, particularly if you have never renovated or decorated before. A designer can help walk you through this to come up with a number that you are comfortable with. Often clients come to a designer in the first place because they have a particularly difficult space to furnish or decorate and a consultation is great place to get specific advise on how to move forward with a design dilemma. The designer will want to get to know about your lifestyle, who lives in the space and how you all like to live. Knowing your expectation for a timeline is also important.
The earlier in the process you bring on an interior designer the better as many great things in a good design can take longer than expected. Especially if you are wanting something a bit unique and custom made. Being able to show the designer some images of rooms or objects that you love will help the designer understand your aesthetic better. One of the best ways to get to know your style may be to look at websites like Pinterest or Houzz and save some rooms that speak to you or make you feel a connection in some way. Magazines are also a great, old school way to show your designer images that you love and can be collected over time as you find them.
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." - Maya Angelou
7 Ways to Prepare for Your Design Consultation
1. Know Your Goals
Take some time to think about what your goals are before meeting with the designer so that you have some direction to give the designer. For instance, if you are an empty nester and are moving from a large home into a more compact living situation, knowing which pieces are important for you to keep and bring with you on your new journey will help the designer incorporate your past with your future. Alternatively, if you have a young growing family or are thinking of adding a pet into the mix, your goal may be create an easy to clean, family friendly environment that also looks great.
2. Come with a Budget
If you invest some time to think about your budget before your meeting, this is extremely helpful for your designer and saves a lot of time. One example of a way to work out what your budget might be on a decorating project would be to write a list of furniture pieces you need and then look at a few websites such as Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn and write down the prices of pieces that you like. This will give you a ball park figure which can then be a starting point with your designer. Coming up with a budget for a renovation can be more challenging and can take some time discussing with your designer and a building professional.
3. Have a Process for Decision-Making
It is ideal that anyone that will be involved in the decision making process in your project is at the initial consultation. This saves a lot of time and frustration as the designer will get a much better picture of what needs to be included in the design and can work at keeping all parties happy. Many times a designer is asked to marry two seemingly opposing styles or ideas which is one of the many skills a designer can bring to the table.
4. Have an Awareness of Your Daily Routine
Having an awareness of how you like to live or how your home could work better for you can give your designer invaluable information for how to tackle the design. A designer will want to make your home function as efficiently as possible so any examples you can have for your ideal lifestyle will be helpful.
5. Be Honest in Sharing Your Habits and Needs
Being open and honest in this first meeting will get your designer on the right page from the very beginning. Remember, this is your home and this meeting is a judgement free zone. The designer wants to make you happy in your space so opening up about your coffee addiction or your large collection of wines from your last trip to the Barossa can get your designer thinking of great ways to bring these tastefully into your home.
6. Discover Your Style Preferences in Advance
If you take some time to explore your aesthetic before the consultation, your designer will be able to interpret what you show them and refine your ideas to suit you home and your budget. Reading between the lines is a designers super power but the more clear you can be with the lines, the better the super power works.
7. Bring an Open Mind!
Once you have given your designer a clear direction, keep an open mind and allow your designer to bring some ideas and solutions that you may not have thought of. This is where the trust comes in. It is always best if you research designers well before selecting one or two to do a consultation. That way you already know that they have a style that you can relate to and know that they understand the kind of aesthetic that connects with you.