Four Tips To Know Before Working With a Designer/Decorator

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Several years ago I offered interior decorating services and also e-design.  I never really got into "full service" design for lack of time to put into it.  I've always admired those who can oversee a project from start to finish and really enjoy watching the process, but I knew it wasn't for me. I've also spoken to other blogger friends who ventured into the business and later regretted it which made me feel even better about my decision.  I offer(ed) help with paint colors, fabric choices, furniture placement, furniture & accessory sourcing.  I enjoyed it for a while, but found it left little time to focus on our home and family and the time spent on client projects just wasn't worth it for the money.  So now I only work with a handful of existing local clients on an ongoing basis when they need me.  This seems to be the sweet spot I was looking for.  I should also mention that my background is in fashion merchandising not interior design so technically I'm not an interior designer, but there is a lot of cross over between the two which I believe helped me with my small business.

I've learned so much from the experience that I wanted to share what I learned with you in hopes it would help anyone who is considering hiring a designer/decorator.

1.  Budget.  This is huge!  Every project no matter how big or small needs a budget.  This provides a starting point for your decorator.  This does not mean the full budget will be spent, because there are lots of nice home owners who have a very small budget and are already stretching themselves.  It simply gives us an idea of where to look when sourcing.  A starting point so to speak.  I cannot tell you how much time I wasted early on by not nailing clients down on budget.  People don't always feel comfortable talking about money and that's understandable, but the whole process will go much smoother if you get budget out of the way in the beginning.  So before you meet your decorator brainstorm about what items and changes you want and what you are willing to pay.  Your decorator should have an idea of whether your price is realistic or not and the two of you can work together from there.

2.  Inspiration.  Most everybody uses Pinterest now, but there are so many great resources for interior design.  I personally like Decor Pad and Instagram and rarely use Houzz though some people really love it.  Most designers will ask you for inspiration images and/or have you fill out a questionnaire. This is so helpful to get a idea of your style, likes and sometimes dislikes, colors, and overall feel for the look you want to accomplish in your space.  This isn't to exactly copy a design plan, but to provide an early direction for your project.  It's helpful to also use words to describe your goals for the space such as cozy, fresh, light, dark, peaceful, masculine, coastal, etc.

3.  Quick Response.  When you hire someone to work on your home, you normally agree on a time frame start to finish for your project.  Some projects stay on schedule, but many times things happen that slow the process.  That's normal.  When your decorator gives you sources for items on your wish list and you like them and decide to go with the recommended plan, it's best to place orders asap.  If you wait a week or a month the items may be out of stock.  This causes the decorator to have to start all over in the search which can also cause more changes because the available rug may not go so well with the chosen sofa now.  This will only cost you in the long run if your decorator charges by the hour because everything is now being done for the second time.

4.  Trust.  You've seen their work.  You like their style.  You hired them for a reason.  So now it's time to put your trust in them.

Those are my four tips.  Do any of my designer/decorator readers have anything to add?



  1. That's it. I am going to make this post required reading for every client I work with!!!! Seriously, are you in my head today????

    1. Glad this post resonates with you Jill. Hope it helps others too from both perspectives. :) Thank you for commenting!

  2. I would add "be honest with your designer/decorator." If you don't like something then voice your opinion. The relationship will only grow stronger if both parties are honest with each other.

  3. I have never hired a designer. I usually feel like I know what I want but the more I learn the more I realize what I don't know. I have a couple of friends that I respect their taste and I will bounce ideas off of them and I have used a couple of designer/decorators when their services are included at the store where I am making my purchases. I have been asked to help friends, which I have, but had considered taking it a step further but with our move it never happened. I found your input very insightful. I also have to agree about the Houzz thing. I know so many people that love it but I never liked how they are so protective of images. I like to keep most of my stuff in one place. I think I will look at Decor Pad. Thanks for the direction and input. Pam

  4. Definitely give feedback as the project is running along. We are sensitive creatives but we have learned to have thick skin and we truly want you to live in the spaces of your dreams, not ours. So many of my clients have good taste but they don't have the time to source - on budget - or just can't put it all together and I'm so glad to help them.


Thanks so much for stopping by! Your questions will be answered here or you can email me at

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...