What to expect from an interior designer - Your Home and Garden (2023)

Ever thought of enlisting the help of an interior designer but felt a little intimidated or confused? Homes to Love NZ sat down with three top interior designers to quiz them on the process and find out what they do, what they cost and why you need them

What to expect from an interior designer - Your Home and Garden (1)

What does an interior designer do?

Aninterior designer is there to simplify the process of building or renovating, says Jackie Jones of Jackie Jones Interior Design. “We do thisby working within a client’s brief and budget to create and implement schemes to fit the client’s taste and lifestyle.”

Vic Bibby of Bibby +Brady agrees. “An interior designer will remodel a space to make it both functional and attractive, while taking into consideration the client’s wants, needs and budget. They will take an ordinary room and make it extraordinary.”

An interior designer will take an ordinary room

and make it extraordinary

When should I hire one?

The earlier into your project the better, says Jackie. “If your project is large enough to require plans and drawings by an architect or architectural designer, it can be very useful to have an interior designer look these over, to optimise space planning and interior layout, before the building work commences and even before final council consent is sought.With a smaller renovation or redecorating project, early input by an interior designer is also good to help create a cohesive feel in your home or office from the outset.”

What to expect from an interior designer - Your Home and Garden (2)

Why should I enlist one to help?

There are so many decisions to make during a renovation, it can be exhausting trying to navigate them all. Tomi Williams of Indigo design says she can simplify this process for people. “Many of my clients come to me exhausted by the range of options for the interiors of their home and not knowing where to start.Interior designers can also come up with an idea or scheme for your home that was beyond your expectations,” she says.

Many of my clients come to me

exhausted by the range of options

Vic Bibby: “A lot of our clients have great ideas and know what they want, but they don’t have the means or the skills to pull it all together. Sometimes they simply don’t have time to do the job themselves, or there are so many decision they just don’t know where to start. That’s when you need us! Often it’s a fresh, and experienced set of eyes that can make all the difference.”

Jackie Jones: “It can avoid many costly mistakes and allow the client access to suppliers and pricing that would not otherwise be available to them.”

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What will an interior designer ask me before they agree to work with me?

An interior designer will ask how your room/s will be used, who lives there, about your colour and style preferences, budget, location and project timeline.

It’s important to have a clear brief, including what you like and dislike abouta room, which furniture is non-negotiable, if there are children, pets or other considerations.

It's important to have a clear brief

including what you like and dislike about a room

Vic Bibby: “It’s really important for us to get a clear brief from our clients so we know that we can produce the best possible result. We will ask what our clients love about the room, and what they hate – this will help us determine their taste. What furniture pieces must stay, and what can go. We need to know who will be using the room, and how they will be using it –do they entertain a lot? This helps with furniture selection and placement. What are their favourite colours, and colours they simply can’t live with. Pinterest is a very important tool for us, if our clients have Pinterest boards we can instantly get a feel for their style.And lastly, two very important questions we will ask is if there are any timing and budget restraints.”

Top tip: A Pinterest board is a great way to show an interior designer your style.

What to expect from an interior designer - Your Home and Garden (3)

What if after the initial meeting I am not happy with the style or ideas put forward by an interior designer, is it okay to walk away?

Jackie Jones: “You can walk away at any time. You will likely be charged their initial consultation fee however, unless you have negotiated an initial meeting at no cost.”

Tomi Williams: “It is always best to try to work through a scheme put forward by your interior designer before walking away. In some instances they may be trying to make you push the boundaries and this might take some time for you to get your head around. If there are elements of the scheme you would like to change most interior designers should be open to this.”

You can

walk away at any time

What will it cost?

Rates for interior designers vary. Most charge per hour, from $50-500+. Ask at the outset for an hourly rate and what an initial consultation will cost.

How will an interior designer help me stick to a budget?

Vic Bibby says once abudget is decided, it’s her job to stick toit. “It’s easier for us keep emotional decisions in check. If our client absolutely must have the top of the line oven with all the bells and whistles, we can choose a more cost effective tile to help balance it out.”

(Video) HOUSE TOUR: The Country Home and Gardens of Interior Designer Bunny Williams

What to expect from an interior designer - Your Home and Garden (4)

Where do I find one?

Word of mouth is the best way to find an interior designer. Ask a friend, architect, builder,kitchen installer, or your local paint or furnishings store.

How do I ensure they ‘get’ my style?

A Pinterest board is invaluable. Rip out pictures from magazines. Collect paint and fabric swatches or anything visual that illustrates your style. Keep communication lines open.

How do I push back on designs/ideas I don’t love?

Jackie Jones: “If a designer puts forward design ideas that are not to your taste, don’t be afraid to let them know this. The home that you create together with their help must be one that you love and their job is to help you achieve this!”

Tomi Wiliams: “You are always the client and at the end of the day the interior designer wants to create a home that you are going to love. The important thing is to make sure you listen to the interior designer’s ideas and realise the vision.”

What to expect from an interior designer - Your Home and Garden (5)

Is it true that interior designers get better deals on furniture, fabric and hardware?

This is very true. Interior designers have access to furniture, fabric and homeware at discounted rates that can be passed on to the client.

Will working with an interior designer add value to my home in the long run?

The short answer is yes. Vic Bibby says an interior designer will save you a great deal of time, money and headaches. “They will help you to avoid costly mistakes, and increase the value of your home. A good interior designer will add wow factor to your home which will make all the difference when it comes time to sell.”

Homes to Love interviewed interior designers Vic Bibby, Tomi Willams and Jackie Jones.

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What should I expect from an interior designer? ›

Interior designers will plan out your space and take all the measurements for you. Keep in mind that designers are trained to engineer the entire space. They account for everything from furniture placement (including size and scale) to creating atmosphere with color, lighting, and accessories.

How do I prepare for an interior design consultation? ›

7 Preparation Tips for Your Most Rewarding Interior Design Consultation
  1. Know Your Goals. ...
  2. Determine Your Budget. ...
  3. Consider How You Live in the Space. ...
  4. Be Upfront and Specific about Your Needs. ...
  5. Have All Materials Present for Consideration. ...
  6. Explore Your Likes and Dislikes. ...
  7. Determine the Decision Makers.

What are the 5 stages of the design process interior design? ›

Conceptual Development Phase. Design Development Phase. Construction Documentation Phase. Construction Maintenance & Administration Phase.

What can interior designers not do? ›

What Is Interior Decoration? Interior decorating is outfitting a space with aesthetically pleasing elements such as furniture, wall-coverings, accessories, rugs and more. Interior decorators do not work with architects to create new interior spaces; they embellish interior spaces that already exist.

What are the legal obligations of an interior designer? ›

An interior designer will seek to keep all the intellectual property rights in their creative work, and give the client a license to use the work. A well-advised client will seek to have the rights assigned so that they own the work.

What are the four steps in the interior design process? ›

The 4 Stages of the Interior Design Process:
  1. The Meeting (Excitement and Exploration, Programming)
  2. The Work (Space Plans, Materials, Design Boards, and Decisions)
  3. The Waiting (Quotes, Proposals, Orders, Deliveries)
  4. The Rush (Installation, The Reveal)
18 Jan 2018

Are you supposed to tip interior designers? ›

Decorators usually have their “tip” rolled up into their bill in the form of a percentage of the cost of the goods they purchase for you. However, if a painter or a decorator near you does a little extra that isn't in their job scope, is extra helpful, or is particularly nice, then a small tip is acceptable.

How does an interior designer charge? ›

Most interior designers charge for their time by the hour, anywhere from $50 to $500 depending on their experience. On average you can expect to pay $100 to $200 per hour, typically totaling around $5,200 in design fees, not including the cost of furniture.

What is included in an interior design package? ›

Your interior design package should include all the services you are ready to offer if your client opts for a particular package. The services can include floor patterns, furniture layouts, lighting plans, millwork, interior design business heading palettes, 3d renderings facilities, and the like.

What is the 70/30 rule in interior design? ›

Using 70% cool colours and 30% warm colours, he gets the colours to pop. It's the small amount of warms that makes the cools come to life.

What are the 7 principles of interior design? ›

  • UNITY.
23 Aug 2022

How long does the interior design process take? ›

For multi-room furnishings projects, you can expect your project to take about 3 months per room. For smaller-scale renovations projects with furnishing (such as a single-room with a new floor plan), you can expect about 6 months.

Do interior designers pick furniture? ›

Some designers prefer to select every piece of furniture and accessory themselves to create a cohesive look for a space. Others will work with a client to find pieces that fit their specific needs and budget.

What is the main difference between an interior designer and a decorator? ›

Interior design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building, while interior decorating is the furnishing or adorning of a space with decorative elements to achieve a certain aesthetic. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

What are the duties of an interior decorator? ›

Interior Designers, or Interior Decorators, work with clients to help achieve a functional and aesthetically-pleasing interior space. Their duties include sourcing furniture and materials, conducting presentations, and sketching concepts using design software.

How do interior design contracts work? ›

An Interior Design Contract allows an interior designer to define the terms and conditions of an arrangement to deliver interior design services for a home or office. With signatures from both the property owner and the interior designer, this document helps define each party's expectations and limit conflicts.

What is a tear sheet in interior design? ›

Also referred to in the industry as mood boards, tear sheets are collections of visual pieces that spark inspiration, set a tone and drive design, and provide vision and ideas.

What is the first step in interior design? ›

Step 1: Take the measurements of your room

Take measurements of your room and mark them out on a piece of paper. Then, add cut-out shapes of your furniture in order to find their ideal placement in the room, keeping in mind how people will move around the room.

How do you execute an interior designer? ›

Interior Design 9 Key Work Stages
  1. Feasibility. This initial phase of the project includes preliminary studies of the site or property. ...
  2. Concept. Concept Design is the begining of the creative process. ...
  3. Development. ...
  4. Technical. ...
  5. Production. ...
  6. Tender. ...
  7. Mobilisation. ...
  8. Construction.

How do interior designers talk to clients? ›

Create a form with questions that will allow you to define all aspects of the project. Ask the client to send you all the images they like so you get a precise ideas of the style and color they want to avoid misunderstandings. Suggest creating a moodboard on Pinterest to organise their ideas for each room for example.

How much of a discount do interior designers get? ›

If their application is accepted, the interior designer receives a percentage off the suggested retail price when shopping with that business. This discount varies vendor to vendor but is typically 30-60% off.

How much discount do designers get on furniture? ›

Typically, when I purchase from a supplier, my designer pricing is 30-50% off the MSRP, and I apply the same markup. If you insist on visiting retail furniture stores to shop, my discount is usually a measly 10%.

How do you estimate an interior design project? ›

It's an industry thumb rule that for a 2 BHK interior design cost, you should budget for at least 10% of the cost of your property. So the higher the valuation per square feet area of your 2 BHK, the more your house interior design cost will be.

Where do interior designers make the most money? ›

Geographic profile for Interior Designers:
StateEmployment (1)Hourly mean wage
California8,330$ 33.79
Florida6,470$ 29.14
New York6,110$ 34.72
Texas4,690$ 28.54
1 more row

How much do freelance interior designers charge? ›

Design-only Cost: If it's only the design you want, the designer can specify the cost of interior design between ₹20,000 to ₹50,000 for just furniture placement and ideas. For a three-dimensional (3D) view, the cost can go up to ₹75,000 to ₹1.5 lakh.

What does full service interior design mean? ›

In a nutshell, full service interior design involves an interior designer or design team managing your entire project, from initial concept to installation to magazine-worthy finishing touches. The biggest benefits of full service design are: the final result and the time/energy you save getting there.

When should you approach an interior designer? ›

Once you are satisfied with their creative thoughts, try approaching them and understand their work model. Here are few pointers that you can ask for when you approach any designing firm. a. Check their qualifications along with the Working process and the project timeframe they usually take-up.

When should you contact an interior designer? ›

If you have a structure ready and need to decorate the interiors, then you should hire an interior designer. However, if you have an empty plot and need to construct a building from scratch, or need to renovate, then you should hire an architect.

When designing a single room the rest of the house should also be kept in mind? ›

If a client wants a piece of furniture that does not fit with the scale of the room, a designer should: find a piece in a similar style that is to scale. The rest of the house should be kept in mind when designing a single room. All good designers are able to choose exactly what the client wants the first time.

What questions do you ask in a design brief? ›

What to Ask Your Client Before Creating Their Design Brief
  • The Importance of a Good Design Brief. ...
  • Question 1: “Can You Tell Me About Your Company?” ...
  • Question 2: “What Do You Want to Achieve with the Design?” ...
  • Question 3: “Who is Your Target Audience?” ...
  • Question 4: “What Do You Want Me to Produce?”

What is a client brief in interior design? ›


How do you respond to an interior design inquiry? ›

We like to send an email that sounds something like this:

“Thank you so much for taking the time to reach out. We're honored that you are a fan of our work! After careful consideration of your inquiry, we feel the following designers could be a better fit for your project based on budget/style/timeline needs.”

Should all walls be the same color? ›

As a general rule of thumb, you should never paint your entire home one singular color. That isn't to say that you can't use the same color in some capacity throughout your entire home; however, it shouldn't be the primary wall color in every room.

How many colors should you have in your house? ›

A good rule of thumb for a cohesive color palette is to use no more than 5 distinct colors throughout your home. In this case, a white, a neutral, and 3 colors. But, that doesn't mean you are limited to only 5 paint colors in your home.

Does every room in your house have to match? ›

Everything need not match! Rooms benefit from the extra texture, pattern and color from other like items. When additional patterns and colors are brought in, a rooms gains depth and dimension.

What is the most important element of interior design? ›

The most important element of interior design would be a functional space. Functional space acts as the base of the entire interior design. Therefore, it is essential that the user and designer both are well aware of the space availability and purpose of each individual space.

What are the 5 basic principles of developing an interior design concept? ›

Look for the principles of design as well: Size & Proportion, Balance, Rhythm, Emphasis, and Harmony.

What are the five steps in the design process? ›

The short form of the design thinking process can be articulated in five steps or phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test.

How many hours should an interior designer take? ›

Interior designers typically work Monday through Friday, though some weekend and evening work is sometimes required. At larger interior design firms or in a retail role, designers typically work anywhere from 40-50 hours per week, though many work closer to 40 hours each week more consistently.

How long does an interior designer take to design a house? ›

Interior design is a process including several people, steps and processes. Depending on the scope of the project, the complexity of the renovation process, the process of interior design takes around 14-31 weeks all in all.

What are the duties of an interior decorator? ›

Interior Designers, or Interior Decorators, work with clients to help achieve a functional and aesthetically-pleasing interior space. Their duties include sourcing furniture and materials, conducting presentations, and sketching concepts using design software.

What is the role of a junior interior designer? ›

A junior interior designer or architect must collaborate with senior design team members on project goals, assisting with design concepts and interfacing with the clients to ensure needs are being met in a timely fashion.

How would you describe yourself as an interior designer? ›

Seb: How do you describe yourself as an Interior Designer, your style? N: “I try to understand my clients and what they are uniquely looking for, and I enjoy injecting aspects of their personality and stories into the design. I love colour and pattern so you will see that in my work.

What is the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator? ›

Interior design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building, while interior decorating is the furnishing or adorning of a space with decorative elements to achieve a certain aesthetic. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

How does working with a decorator work? ›

Working With An Interior Designer: The Process:

Design Plans & Pitch // Your designer will present you with design plans, samples, mood boards, renderings, and pitch their idea for your home or space. This is the fun part of the process for clients!

Where are interior designers most needed? ›

This is as per the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Interior design is a flourishing field, yet some states have not seen a higher concentration of jobs.
Some US states conducive for the interior design industry are:
  • California.
  • Texas.
  • Florida.
  • Ohio.
  • Colorado.
  • Michigan.
  • New Jersey.

How do interior designers work with clients? ›

They will discuss what is important to have in each room so that they meet the rooms individual needs. To understand their style and vision, some designers offer a detailed questionnaire; others may spend time with the client for an extended period looking at imagery and talking.

How much do top interior designers make? ›

But still, wages can vary wildly. The top 10 percent of interior designers, for instance, raked in more than $125,000 annually, while 17 percent of respondents brought home less than $50,000 a year.

What should an interior design brief include? ›

Writing a great Interior Design brief
  • THE VISION. As Interior Designers, we want to know: ...
  • THE SCOPE. It is also crucial to determine, from the start, the scope of the project, and the roles that each consultant will play. ...
  • BUDGET & TIMINGS. It is very important to establish: ...
  • TEAM INPUT. ...

What are concepts in interior design? ›

An interior design concept is the central theme that all the design elements are focused upon. It exists as an idea first and is brought to reality through careful planning. At its best, an interior design concept is a visual theme that evokes a specific mood by strategically using color, space, and style.


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