How To Choose An Interior Designer

Hiring an interior designer can feel like a daunting task. In major metropolitan markets, there can be dozens of designers or design firms to choose from. How do you know that you’re choosing the best team for your project? We’re here to help you feel prepared and confident as you begin vetting interior designers for your remodel.


First thing’s first: know what you want to do and what your budget is.

Before you start contacting designers, it’s important to know what you want — otherwise the conversations with designers will stay pretty base level and will require more follow-ups to get to an estimate. Create a detailed list of what you’re looking for. So, instead of simply saying “I want to remodel my bathroom,” tell the designer that you’re wanting to convert your shower to a bathtub, install new cabinets and lighting, and move your closet space to a different area. The designer will no doubt have more questions for you, but starting with details like this will help them scope the work and get you a quote faster.

It’s also important to know exactly how much you’re willing to spend on a remodel. Spoiler alert: remodeling is very expensive. Before diving into serious discussions with a designer, do research on the average cost of your type of remodel in your market. This will give you a baseline of what you may be able to afford. It’s also a good idea to tell the designer upfront what your cost limit is so they can put together a quote that is actually within your budget. Or, you can rule the designer out altogether if their services are too expensive — which saves both of you time and effort in the long run.

Next, do in-depth research into the designer’s capabilities.

Most, if not all, interior designers have an online portfolio of their best work. Spend time looking through their case studies and getting a sense of their design aesthetic. Does their work inspire you? Do they specialize in the type of work you’re searching for? If the answer is yes, they are candidates for a short list of designers. We recommend gathering a list of 3-5 designers to reach out to so you can gather enough quotes to make an informed decision.

When you’ve created your shortlist, it’s time to start setting up consultations. Here’s what questions to ask in your first meeting:

  • How do you choose which projects you take on?

Think about hiring a designer like dating: do your values align? Are you both looking for the same thing? It’s a good idea to know how interior designers vet their clients so you can get a sense of what their priorities are. If a designer says they take on any and all work that comes their way, that may be a red flag. Being selective shows confidence in their work, a defined expertise, and proper boundaries.

  • How much do you typically charge for this type of work?

Talking money upfront is always a bit awkward, but getting this out of the way in the beginning will benefit both you and the designer. No one wants to waste time, so knowing whether the designer is even in your budget will help you either select or deselect them and move on.

  • How do you get inspired and craft your design vision?

It can be comforting to know how designers get inspired in the early phases of your design. Will they simply recreate the inspiration photos you gave them? Or do they have a creative process that brings fresh, unique ideas to the table? You want a designer who will use their design expertise to level up your ideas.

  • How much do you involve your clients in the design process?

Knowing how the client will bring you along during the project is crucial so that both teams’ expectations are aligned. Will the designer involve you in all decisions, or only major ones that impact your budget? Will you review work on a weekly basis, or only during big milestones?

  • What is your approach to problem solving when something goes wrong? 

It’s important to understand how the designer maintains transparency and resolves issues during a project. All projects, no matter how well planned, will experience some sort of issue or delay. You want a designer who will be honest with you — even if the news is bad — and propose solutions quickly to keep the project moving.

  • How frequently will I expect to receive updates from you?

Most designers will have a designated project manager assigned to your remodel.  Understand how often you should expect to hear from this person. Not only so that your expectations are in line, but also so you can plan to be available in those times to review and approve decisions in a timely manner.

  • Who will be my main point of contact?

Always get clarity on who you should speak to for certain questions and updates, like design progress, billing updates, or issue management when something goes wrong on site. This will ensure you’re getting to the correct person quickly and saving time for everyone on the project.

If you can get clear answers to all of the above questions, you’ve conducted a great first interview and may be on your way to hiring the best interior designer for your project.

Looking for an interior designer in the Austin, TX area? Contact us at Urbane Design to set up a consultation (where we can answer the above questions and more).

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