Those beige walls have to go. You want mid-century modern meets industrial chic, but have no clue how. Enter your interior designer. Everyone knows they do full-throttle home makeovers, but what about smaller needs of crafty DIY folks? Yes, there’s help.
Three top-rated Thumbtack pros help you navigate your first interior design hire. Susan Powell of InFocus Design, in Crete, Illinois, Victoria Kollert of Visions of Variation in Surprise, Arizona, and Laura Sabo of 13 Design Lane Interiors in Portland, Oregon gave us the rundown on how to hire a designer.
What questions should someone ask before hiring an interior designer?
First things first, look at your space. Victoria recommends you consider which features you’re ready to change, think realistically about your lifestyle (is a white suede couch really happening with triplets?), and evaluate the priority level of the rooms you want changed.
With that general notion in mind, dive into the designer search. Susan suggests inquiring about their background before hiring. Ask how they learned their craft, how many years of experience they have, and check out that portfolio of work!
From one-time consultations to relationships that last years, interior design is whatever you need it to be. All three companies highlighted offer a spectrum of services that cover one-day room makeovers to complete home decor overhauls, redoing everything from the window treatments down to the flooring. These pros also handle commercial interiors and staging homes for sale.
Susan explains many clients are DIY-savvy and only need consultations for finishing touches such as layout, art placement, or color palettes. She loves empowering clients to be confident, and says working with a designer can help get over the fear of trying something new. For example, paint is an inexpensive and effective way to totally change the look of a room, but “so many people are afraid of color, so they end up with one of the 90 shades of white or beige that doesn’t even go with their furnishings.” Bring in a designer on the tail end of your work to polish the room to perfection.
What happens when a new client books a designer for the first time?
After an intake call to determine the client’s general needs, a site visit is in order. Expect a thorough walk-through of your home or business, Laura explains, to learn more about your vision and goals. Then the pro will give you advice on achieving that vision—ideally keeping in mind your style preference, budget, and timeline.
Always clarify fees before a home visit so you don’t have any surprises.
What are interior design rates like?
Prices always vary, depending on region. InFocus Design in Illinois charges $175-$225 for new client consults, depending on travel. There is no time limit for these one-time consult visits, so everything the client needs will be addressed during that meeting. Projects requiring more time switch to an hourly rate starting at $50/hour.
In Surprise, Visions of Variation offers varying rates for retired or non-retired clients.
What are the benefits of using an interior designer?
As Victoria says, “You get it right the first time, and that saves you money.”
Laura agrees and points out that spending money on a designer actually saves you money with the pro discounts they receive on goods, by helping you avoid costly mistakes, and by saving you serious time.
In Susan’s words, “As good designers, we can ‘see‘ a finished room in our minds—we know how the room will look when it’s done, so we know what to purchase without weeks and weeks of shopping.” She says this is especially important for folks remodeling a home. With all the details—tile, trim, color, flooring—that need to be selected, the fun of choosing becomes exhausting. A pro can make it painless with optimal outcomes.
What tips would you give your mom if she was booking a designer for the first time?
Make sure the designer is aware of your budget and sticks to it, says Susan. She’d also make her mom do her online research (!) to check out portfolio and reviews. Never be afraid to ask questions, she’d say. Victoria agrees and says she’d want her mom to make sure the designer understands her goals for each room. Laura hopes her mom would pick her! But barring that, she’d say look for referrals, references, and online reviews to guide your choice.
What’s are design trends in your area?
In Portland, Laura shares that it’s all about mixing retro and vintage items with different styles and aesthetics.
In sunny Surprise, Arizona, it’s grays, grays, and more grays. No more beiges, creams, or caramels. The big trend is mixing pops of plums, teals and turquoises, and lime green with gray. Victoria reports that greige—a mix of gray and beige—is also really popular.
In the midwest, comfort and HGTV are both big influencers on decor decisions. Susan shares that finally Illinois is leaving behind the beige and sage trend and embracing the many shades of gray. She says wallpaper has made a bold comeback, and that the classic “Pottery Barn” look is big as well as the industrial/boho chic DIY movement.
Whether you need a completely new look, or you just want help picking out the perfect rug, turn to a pro. You live in your house every day, you might as well make it look fabulous.