How to find the right interior designer

Thinking about getting a professional in? Don't miss our 10 things to consider...

Why do you need an interior designer?
Restyling your home, particularly if structural changes are involved, is a costly investment. Mistakes are expensive and frustrating, and a professional can help bring your vision to life, to a deadline, while squeezing every drop of value from your budget.

Is it a large or small project?
For micro-makeovers, the personal shopper at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, an interior designer, can discuss your scheme and show you the options (the first hour is free, then £75 per hour). For a refurbishment that includes building works, a specialist such as Buildburo, can manage the programme, from curtains to kitchen extensions.

Finding the right professional
Look at portfolios online to make sure their style is to your taste. You might prefer a warm, country look (see VSP Interiors) or a sleek, metropolitan style (for instance, Kinari). Interview at least three designers and ask for references.

Qualifications
The British Interior Design Association (BIDA) has a list of accredited members, and an online guide to the different qualifications.

What they need to know
Make sure you fill them in on important information. Your budget. Who lives with you – including pets. What doesn’t work at present, and why.

What you need to know
Write a list of questions to ask your interior designer. What their solutions would be. What aftercare do they offer: will they help with the snag list? Is the initial interview free? And agree a basis for charging.

Fees
Some interior designers charge per day for their time and others add their fee as a percentage (anything between five and 15%) of the project.

Working with your designer
Draw up a contract that requires each decision to be signed off by you, to avoid miscommunication. Start with a concept board, showing images, textures and colours that appeal. The designer will produce drawings of proposed schemes along with samples of actual materials. Once you have agreed on a programme, it can be as simple as watching your new look take shape.

Property abroad
If you have an overseas property, you’ll need to know whether they’ll decorate it. If all materials are sourced in the UK, they probably will. VSP Interiors once took one client shopping in London and then decorated her Swiss ski chalet with their purchases.

What if it all goes wrong?
BIDA members have insurance that covers them for everything from disputes to accidents.

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