What to expect when working with an interior designer (2022)

If you haven’t called on a professional interior designer before, what can you think likely of the process? We asked a selection of BIID members to explain.

Employing a professional interior designer to carry out services for you for the very first time can involve a steep learning curve. What can you expect about what they will do and the process? And, as the term interior design actually covers a range of disciplines, you may also be seeking to understand the extent of what an individual designer or practice can do whether your project is a residential or a commercial one.

To answer these questions and more, we’ve asked four professional interior designers and BIID members to talk about the expectations you can have of a designer.

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What to expect when working with an interior designer (1)

(Video) What Does An Interior Designer ACTUALLY Do?

Working with a professional interior designer

First of all, it’s important to know what ‘interior design’ could mean. ‘It is an extremely broad term and can encompass a huge variety of design disciplines depending on the training or experience of the individual designer or practice,’ explains Rik Smith, director of Design Emporium.

‘An interior designer may have experience in interior architecture, spatial planning, lighting design, kitchen and cabinetry design, selection and specification of fixtures and fittings, and final styling. Some designers will be predominately involved in the spatial planning and interior architecture while others have skills more suited to undertake styling/interior decoration.’

What types of project might an interior designer work on?

A professional interior designer can be employed for both residential and commercial projects.

‘For clients considering any type of works to their house, whether an internal remodel to enhance the layout, altering a kitchen space or bathroom, or styling of a single room that requires fixtures, fittings and equipment specification, a trained interior designer should be competent to undertake all necessary works,’ says Rik.

‘On larger scale projects, an interior designer should be used to working collaboratively with the architect and other design team from an early stage to assist in the spatial planning of the property, including detailed furniture layouts, whilst also inputting on the required fixed finishes that are needed for the construction stage.’

(Video) What Does an Interior Designer Actually Do? | ARTiculations

‘If only internal transformations are required, then a skilled designer with technical knowledge of building regulations and necessary approvals would be able to guide a client through the entire process.’

What does a professional interior designer bring to a project?

Expect a breadth of attributes if you employ a professional interior designer. ‘An interior designer brings fresh eyes, perspective, creativity and enthusiasm to a project,’ says Sharon Simpson, founder & head creative of Dark Romantix Design Studio. ‘Also a realistic view of what can and cannot be achieved.’

Interior designers’ project management skills are key. ‘They will bring an organised approach to what can be a chaotic and fraught undertaking,’ says interior designer Naomi Astley Clarke. ‘With an experienced interior designer you will be working with someone who has “seen it all” and can come up with quick and simple solutions to any problems that may arise.

‘A designer will be responsible for spending your money wisely and carefully and will be able to take a considered approach to your project,’ she continues. ‘All studios vary. Some interior design studios will be able to provide full construction drawings, planning permissions, QS (quantity surveying) services and M and E (mechanical and electrical systems) consultancy, others will simply provide soft furnishings – do your research to find the practice that most suits your needs.’

Be mindful that a professional interior designer’s input needs to occur early in the project for optimum results. ‘Many residential building works are often undertaken with a minimal design team, or with the interior designer being brought in towards the end of the project,’ says Rik. ‘In many projects the cost of fixtures (including bathroom/kitchen etc), fittings, and equipment will be anywhere from 30 to 60 per cent of the build cost, so the use of an interior designer in the early stages of large projects can ensure much greater knowledge is brought to the overall project budget.’

Should you have different expectations of large and small practices?

You can find interior designers and interior design practices via the BIID, which is the UK’s only professional institute for interior designers. Search find an interior designer by designer or practice name, or to find a professional within a specified radius.

(Video) Working with an Interior Designer. How does it work?

Interior designers might work within small practices or large, so what can you expect according to which you select? ‘Both large and small practiceswill provide a personalcontact,’ says Robert Thake of Robert London Design. ‘In a larger practicethis may be from a senior designeras opposed to the design director.

‘Anyhome isextremely personal and theclient will understandablyalways want to know thedesign of theirown home indetail. With this in mind they need to have a close and trusting relationship with their lead designer, and this may influence the type of practice they are looking to work with.’

Before selecting a practice be completely sure it is the right fit. ‘Interior design is a broad profession and the client needs to be fully briefedon the designer’s full scope and capabilities before starting a project,’ says Robert.

Will a designer manage other professionals and tradespeople?

Wondering if employing a professional interior designer entails their management of others involved in the project? ‘In most cases an interior designer will assist in the implementation of the works and co-ordinate them,’ explains Rik. ‘This is certainly the case for smaller projects, and will depend on the size of firm.

‘If the project is larger in scale with other professionals employed (architect/project manager/main contractor) then the interior designer may have limited input to the implementation and time. However, if the interior designer is the lead professional, they will often co-ordinate all works, managing time and budgets. The greater the service required, the greater fee that is applicable.’

How much contact is there between designer and client during the process?

It’s vital to be aware of the level of contact to reckon on. ‘This is an important detail to discuss at the start of a project,’ says Sharon. ‘The interior designer will discuss with their clients how often and the method with which they like to be contacted. And what to do in the event of an emergency.’

(Video) What to expect when working with an ASID interior designer.

Contact levels will vary according to both project scale and the point it has reached. ‘At different stages of the project the designer will have varying input, and at times may not be required,’ says Rik. ‘In some instances where only redecoration and styling of a single room is required then I would only anticipate a few meetings between client and designer, but for larger projects incorporating full houses the designer may be in daily or weekly contact, especially during the implementation phase.’

How should you expect to be charged for interior design work?

There is no single fee structure when employing a professional interior designer. ‘Charges will vary from studio to studio,’ explains Naomi. ‘Some will charge fixed fees based upon a percentage of the overall cost of the job, some will charge according to square footage, some will charge hourly and others still may charge differently according to the margins they receive on their procurement (ie, splitting trade discounts). There are several ways to charge and usually a designer will find one that will work well for both designer and client. This can be explored in theinitial meeting and then made clear in a follow-up email and fee proposal once thebrief andproject has been understood.’

What else should potential clients know?

We asked our contributors about the assumptions those who are employing an interior designer for the first time most often hold that aren’t correct.

One issue is how soon their chosen professional should be involved. ‘The earlier an interior designer is appointed, the better,’ says Robert.

Know, too, that an interior designer can meet far more expectations than is often supposed. ‘Many people believe an interior designer is limited to the soft furnishings and dressing/styling of a house, and for all other works either specific designers (kitchen/bathroom designers etc) or architects are required,’ says Rik.

‘There is significant cross over between an experienced interior designer, interior architect and architect, and usually an interior designer has much more capability than is known,’ he adds. ‘I often find that to produce a project that flows and has a single design intent running throughout then an interior designer is key and should design or influence the entirety of the project as they will ensure continuity of finish and style.’

(Video) First time meeting an interior designer, what to expect

Have a look at our other resources available below

A Client's Guide to Working with an Interior Designer

Choosing a Designer Checklist

FAQs

What should I expect from interior design? ›

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.

What is working with an Interior Designer like? ›

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!

What do interior designers struggle with? ›

10 Unexpected Challenges Interior Designers Face Today
  • Managing Time. For interior design firms, time management skills are a must. ...
  • Selling Your Big Ideas. ...
  • Handling the Books. ...
  • Maintaining Client Expectations. ...
  • Working Within Fast Turnarounds. ...
  • Introducing Trends and Timeless Style. ...
  • Managing Costs. ...
  • Handling Self-Promotion.
5 Jan 2021

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 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.

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 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 designers deal with clients? ›

Offer them multiple schemes during the design phase, give them a window of time to change their minds about something without penalty, and then have a plan to cover your finances if they change their minds when you've already paid for something. Put all of these stipulations into the client agreement.

How do you know if interior design is for you? ›

Here are some signs that may indicate that interior design can be a career for you:
  1. You have a keen sense of color and design. ...
  2. You like interacting with others. ...
  3. You mentally reorganize the decor in new places. ...
  4. You're open to constructive feedback. ...
  5. Education. ...
  6. Training. ...
  7. Certifications. ...
  8. Hard skills.
2 Nov 2021

What are some of the main challenges facing designers today? ›

5 Challenges Designers Face
  • Working With Tight Deadlines. Some people work well under pressure, while others struggle. ...
  • Balance of Design & Function. ...
  • Balance of Client Needs & Personal Design Preferences. ...
  • Staying Relevant & Gaining Skills Constantly. ...
  • Being Unique.
24 May 2019

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? ›

THE 7 PRINCIPLES OF INTERIOR DESIGN
  • BALANCE.
  • UNITY.
  • RHYTHM.
  • SCALE AND PROPORTION.
  • CONTRAST.
  • EMPHASIS.
  • DETAILS.
23 Aug 2022

How long does it take to interior design a room? ›

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.

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 much do you tip 2022 painters? ›

Tipping is not required or expected, but if you are especially pleased with your new paint job, you can give each painter $10 to $20, depending on the scope of the work.

How do you approach an interior designer? ›

  1. Research first and approach next: Don't approach some other random designer when you see their ads on online channels or in the newspaper. ...
  2. Interior designer's Skill Test : Once you listed down the famous design firms in your locality proceed to the next step. ...
  3. Know Interior designer work model: ...
  4. Sticking to the budget:
18 Nov 2014

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.

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.

Why do you need interior designer? ›

A designer will not only bring their expertise and knowledge to a project, but also fresh eyes,” says Coin. The best designers will be able to identify the potential of a space or its inherent pain points immediately, and then provide creative solutions.

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

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.

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 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.

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? ›

THE 7 PRINCIPLES OF INTERIOR DESIGN
  • BALANCE.
  • UNITY.
  • RHYTHM.
  • SCALE AND PROPORTION.
  • CONTRAST.
  • EMPHASIS.
  • DETAILS.
23 Aug 2022

How long does it take to interior design a room? ›

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 is the 60 30 10 decorating rule? ›

What is the 60-30-10 Rule? It's a classic decor rule that helps create a color palette for a space. It states that 60% of the room should be a dominant color, 30% should be the secondary color or texture and the last 10% should be an accent.

What is a plan in interior design? ›

What is space planning in interior design? Space planning describes the process of determining the purpose, functional requirements, and basic layout of specific areas in a home or commercial building, and it is an absolutely essential part of the interior design process.

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 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.

How do interior designers deal with difficult clients? ›

Offer them multiple schemes during the design phase, give them a window of time to change their minds about something without penalty, and then have a plan to cover your finances if they change their minds when you've already paid for something. Put all of these stipulations into the client agreement.

How do interior designers impress clients? ›

Take a look at 9 creative ways for interior designers to impress their clients:
  1. Incorporate your client's specific interests. ...
  2. Working with a low ceiling? ...
  3. Less is more, especially in a small room. ...
  4. Stand your ground. ...
  5. Always go for a statement piece. ...
  6. Don't ignore the great outdoors! ...
  7. Lighten up the living space.

Videos

1. Tips For Working With An Interior Designer
(AHT Interiors)
2. What to Expect When Hiring an Interior Designer | with Calgary Interior Designer
(The Heather Company | Home Design & Decor)
3. WHAT I LEARNED FROM WORKING MY FIRST JOB AS AN INTERIOR DESIGNER | Tips for Junior Designers
(Andrea Tru)
4. Thinking of hiring an interior designer? Here's what to expect for your custom home build.
(Dotty Brothers Construction)
5. 5 Reasons Why You NEED an Interior Designer
(Lisa Holt Design)
6. What to Expect From Your Interior Designer (2019) | Fuchsia Design
(Autumn Fuchs)

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