How to choose an interior designer

This probably the most important decision you’ll need to make during the entire project. You’re about to invest a great deal in this project and so it’s important you get the very best for your budget. So how do you choose an interior designer? We’ve put together the top ten considerations to help you make the right decision:


1. What’s your style?

Although most good interior designers will adapt to the style and brief set by their client, it makes sense to choose an interior designer whose projects make you think, ‘I’d like to live there’. Having this natural style affinity will not only make the design process smoother, the designer will have experience of certain products and materials that they’ve tried and tested in the past. For example, if you’re a big fan of scandi design, it makes sense to use a designer who knows all the best scandi shops and suppliers.


how to choose an interior designer

Images from Eleri, interior designer on Design for Me. Click here to see her full profile and shortlist her for your project.


2. What’s your budget?

Think about which of these descriptions best applies to you and your aspirations for your project:

a. I’m on a shoestring

You know that your budget is very tight and want some creative cost thinking from your designer. Think up-cycling, re-using your existing furniture and second hand shopping.

b. Balancing quality and cost

You have a decent budget, but know that compromises will need to be made in certain areas. You will want advice from your designer on where to spend and where to save.

c. I want the best

You have a healthy budget and want to ensure all aspects of the project are completed to a very high standard that you’ll enjoy for many years to come.


Having this in mind when looking at interior designers can be very helpful to narrow down your search. Look through their past projects to get a sense of which bracket you would put the designers in. You’ll want to choose a designer who has expertise in working with budgets like yours for the best results.

Project costs aside, interior designers have different fees too. You can see our article here on finding an affordable interior designer: How to find an affordable interior designer


choosing an interior designer

Image from Linsey, interior designer on Design for Me. Click here to see her full profile and shortlist her for your project.


3. How big is the project?

Is it a single room refresh or a whole house renovation? If it’s the latter, I would recommend using an experienced interior designer who is used to dealing with projects of this scale.


4. What will your involvement be?

Do you want to be heavily involved in the design process – selecting furniture and paint colours – with your interior designer acting as a co-ordinator? Or would you happily hand the design reins firmly over and be led?

You will be able to save some labour costs if you do some of the decorating work yourself too.

Have these things in mind when choosing your designer to make sure they feel comfortable with the role you’d like to play. A hands-on client paired with a super in-control designer is not usually a brilliant combination. Neither is a laid back designer with a clueless client!


questions to ask interior designers

Image from Linsey, interior designer on Design for Me. Click here to see her full profile and shortlist her for your project.

5. Reviews, recommendations, references

It’s always a good idea to get feedback from their previous clients before hiring a designer. This is very common practice, so don’t feel shy or awkward about asking for references.


6. Interior designer or architect?

This is a very common question we are asked here at Design for Me. Sometimes the answer is very clear cut, but often there is a bit of a grey area.

Here is where it is clear cut:

Architect: when the work concerns the outer shell of the building i.e. external walls, roof etc.

Interior designer: when the work includes design and specification of interior finishes and furniture and fabrics e.g. window dressings.

Anything in between e.g. internal alterations – which represents a very broad scope – could be done by either, but it will ultimately come down to their individual expertise and experience. If there is a small number of minor internal modifications, e.g. moving a couple of non-structural walls, an interior designer may well be able to assist. However, if the internal alterations are more significant, I’d recommend speaking to architects instead.


7. Use a contract

It’s really important to have a contract with your design professional so you both know what to expect from each other for the duration of the project. They should have one that they regularly use with their clients. This may be simply be in the form of a letter which outlines what they will do for you, for what fee.


8. Do you need a local interior designer?

For most projects, it would be sensible to search within roughly a 20-mile radius. However, this is very much linked to ‘How big is the project?’ and ‘What will your involvement be?’ If the project will run over a number of months and they will be required to visit site regularly for meetings with you, or check progress on site, it makes sense to use someone relatively local. However, some interior designers can work remotely if, for example, you simply require a set of drawings and a mood board for one or two rooms and nothing more.

You can read more on this in our recent article on this subject: Finding interior designers – do I need someone local?


Mood board from Sarah, interior designer on Design for Me. Click here to see her full profile and shortlist her for your project.

interior designer mood board


9. What’s your time-scale?

Do you need this project finished ASAP? When speaking to interior designers, cross check your expectations for the project with their availability. They may not have the time in their schedule or resources to get the project finished as soon as you need.


10. Do you get on?

This is a consideration some people might dismiss. But actually, you will be working with this person to design your own home, so it’s important that you are on the same wavelength and establish a good working relationship.

I hope now you are ready to choose an interior designer for your project, and are armed with the right questions to ask yourself and them. Best of luck!


Emily  Design for Me

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