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Friday 27 September 2019

7 Tips on Choosing the right Interior designer for your home

I am often asked by friends and people I meet, "How do we choose the right interior designer for our home?"
With the wide range of professionals and firms advertising complete home makeovers, it is confusing how to select the right one for your home. 
Doing up home interiors is not something you do very frequently, since it is a tedious, time consuming and expensive process. 
Therefore you need to put in thought and time before you select a professional Interior Designer to do your home interiors.
Before you proceed with this post, you should read this: 

Being in the Interior Designing field myself, let me share a few tips on, 
Choosing the right Interior designer for your home
Choosing Interior Designer

1) Online research, Word of Mouth, Trusted references
The first refuge to source out any kind of requirement today is to google. There are a large number of individual professionals and firms offering turn-key interior design services. You need to go through their website properly, check testimonials. Also make sure you meet the design team face-to-face and check out their authenticity, maybe even visit sites they have executed.
Despite almost everything being online today, many people are still old school especially when it concerns their homes. However grandly a designer may advertise and market, people are more likely to go with a tried and tested one. One whose work they have seen and one who comes recommended by people they themselves know well. 
It makes sense therefore to ask around in your circles for good references and also verify the glowing recommendations by seeing the executed work yourself. What looks beautiful to one person, may look garish to another!

2) Credentials, Work Portfolio, Testimonials
Once you've narrowed down on a few designers, make a point to personally meet them. You may or may not decide after meeting just one. Ask for his qualifications if they are not already mentioned, a qualification from a good institution does add weight. An Interior Designer may or may not be an architect. But he should have adequate knowledge of the structural implications for an interior he should know the load-bearing columns, beams before undertaking massive renovations.
Have a good look at previous work portfolio and seek testimonials of previous clients. You may even ask for contact numbers to verify the same. 
Don't be biased about hiring only experienced Designers, you'll be surprised to discover many new designers doing better work at far lesser cost.
Over and above all these above points, make a point to observe if the Designer is eager to spend time understanding your needs and vision to create a dream house for you. The designer's attitude should be one you are comfortable with. Most importantly ask questions, a good designer should be open to answering them. He should be able to communicate his vision for your home clearly.
Also remember, a chatty or friendly designer may not necessarily deliver all he promises while a subdued designer may deliver beyond expectations. 

3) Identify your needs 
The first question any designer will ask you is, what are your expectations, what do want to get done?
I would consider identifying and tallying your needs to be the most important aspect when you start looking for a professional to do up your space. Most people have little or no idea about visualizing a look for their homes other than what they are seeing. 
In this case, note down a list of your aspirations for your home. For instance, you could make a room-wise list like this:

Living Room
1. False ceiling 
2. Seating area - mix of formal and informal seating
3. No TV in living room
4. Shoe-rack
5. Display unit
1. Light and open look
2. Large storage - 3/4/5 door wardrobe
3. Walk in wardrobe (dream)
4. Dressing area
5. Projector TV
1. Mediterranean theme
2. Pull outs
3. Height of kitchen platform to be higher
4. Chimney - Yes/No
5. Washing machine, Dishwasher space
6. Puja area 

You could make the list as specific as you want/can. Save different folders of reference images to share, as they can give the designer a better understanding of the image in your mind. 
Identify your needs, however wild or improbable they may seem and share them with the designer, it is upto them now to creatively incorporate them where possible. 

4) Infrastructure 
Check out all you can on the infrastructure the designer has at his disposal. Most designers today offer you a 2D Autocad or similar software designed plan. Detailed 3-D view or walk-through of their proposed design may be at an additional cost. This greatly helps you to get a better understanding of the designer's plan for your home. 
An interior designer may be a freelancer or part of a larger architectural firm. Sometimes big names may not necessarily translate into a great experience. A larger firm could mean less time dedicated to a single client. On the other hand, a free lancer may not have the requisite team to handle turn-key projects. Usually it is easier if the designer has his own team of civil, electrical, plumbing, carpentry contractors because he will have a better say and co-ordination with them.

5) Understanding the monetary aspect
In tandem with your needs, you need to fix an overall budget that you are ready to spend on the entire exercise. Conveying this to the designer is very important. A designer should ideally be able to work around your budget or else clearly state otherwise. Most designers will give you an all inclusive (material, labor, supervision) Estimated Project Cost based on the scope of work and finishes selected. You could ask for further breakups in the costing. 
The costing may vary greatly depending on the cost of materials you finally select, the finishes (for furniture), fittings, paints etc. you select. The Estimate will give you a fairly good idea of what to expect based on standard materials which you may change if you do not like them. For example, the estimate may have vitrified floor tiles all over and you may opt for Italian marble or wooden flooring, so these additions will increase your budget.
The Designer may include his charges within the projected cost or separately charge a percentage (ranging anywhere from 5-15%) of entire project cost as his designing and execution fees. 
If the Estimate figures scare you too much, you may ask for Design Only services and settle to carry out the execution part yourself if you have the time and capability to handle it.

6) Compare 
When in doubt always go for a second or third opinion. No harm in comparing proposals, estimates, work ethics of two or more designers. The more homework you do before you settle for the final designer, the better.

7) Your Home, Your Space
Ideally designers input your visions to create personalized spaces that reflect your desires and likes. But there are many out there who force their trademark styles on your home. For instance, a family that is more at home with a traditional or rustic setting may become a modern haven of black-white-chrome because the designer convinced the clients of it. 
Be open to new ideas but don't get swayed to the extent that your home looks like someone else's! 

I hope these tips will help you narrow down your search for the right Interior Designer for your home. Do connect with me by commenting below if you have further queries, I'll try my best to help you out!

Beautiful Homes, Happy Homes!

Kala Ravi

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