There are many reasons to hire an interior designer or decorator. First let’s clarify the difference. An Interior Decorator is someone who has a keen eye for style and color. They have experience in areas like custom window treatments, color consultations, room layouts and pulling the whole design scheme together. In the State of Connecticut an Interior Designer is a licensed professional who has passed the N.C.I.D.Q. (National Council for Interior Design Qualifications) testing and is usually affiliated with A.S.I.D (American Society of Interior Design). A designer usually has a college degree in Interior Design and/or a certain amount of years of experience to qualify for the testing. Designers work both in residential and commercial design. You must look at the scope of the job to decide which would be a better match for your project. Many times their experience and capabilities are the similar but their credentials differ.
Finding a decorator or designer is not as hard as you think. First and foremost there is word of mouth. A neighbor or a friend may be able to recommend someone they have worked with in the past. Call the Chamber of Commerce in several nearby towns to see if they can recommend someone. You can go on the A.S.I.D website to find affiliated members in your area. Google “interior designers decorators Hartford” and you will come across many designers who may even have a website. A great online source is the Interior Design Directory which is a website tailored to designers in your area.
A designer and a decorator both will help you to understand the design process from consultation to completion. Many people have great taste but don’t have the time or know how to pull it all together while others are completely overwhelmed with the project and need someone to walk them through it. Together you will determine your needs and desires in areas like function, style and comfort, determine a timeline and help you create and maintain a budget.
A professional will articulate your ideas and design needs, help you achieve a custom look and save you a significant amount of time. You will avoid costly mistakes by working with someone who has the experience and knowledge needed to get the job done. They will expedite all deliveries and installations and should deal with any delays or issues that may come up.
Ask them about their experience, education and trade affiliations. A pro will have a portfolio and should provide you with references. Their former clients will usually have nice things to say about them but will also provide you with answers to your questions. Write a list of questions and call them! Designers and decorators have many sources which include contractors, showrooms, design centers and workrooms. They can recommend reputable painters, wallpaper hangers, carpenters and other trades people.
Discuss their fee structure and be sure to understand how you will be billed. Many designers charge a flat hourly fee for their time or will work on a “mark up” system. A signed contract is a good idea so that both parties understand the scope of services and the fees involved. Remember that these are professionals and they get paid for their valuable service and time… it’s not a hobby.
Finally, you must feel comfortable with the designer you are interviewing. Chemistry is important. This is someone you will trust in your home to work with you and your family. You should not feel intimidated or uncomfortable with someone you are working so closely with. Hire someone you like and enjoy your design experience.