It’s been fascinating to watch interior design services transform over the last decade. The basics of design haven’t changed much — standard counter height is still 36 inches, standard seat height is still 18 inches and standard door height is still 80 inches — but the business of interior design has definitely shifted. When I graduated from college in 2011, my first job was working as a design assistant for an interior designer. She had owned her business for 20 years. The DIY movement that had partially bloomed out of the recession was confusing and a little scary to her. For homeowners and renters, design felt like a risky investment with the housing market where it was. At the time, hiring an interior designer seemed like a luxury reserved only for people with high-end tastes and budgets. Plus, the internet had opened up access to inspiration and products that people could source for their homes without the help of a designer.
Like everything does, the industry has adapted and opened up to a new generation with a broader range of services, price points and more accessibility to those in smaller communities.
While I love to write about interior design all day, I thought advice on how to hire an interior designer should come from one. I asked Phoenix, AZ designer Lexi Westergard of Lexi Westergard Design, about the process and what to expect when reaching out to a designer.
What questions do your new/prospective clients commonly ask you when they reach out?
New/prospective clients are always wanting to know how much is hiring a designer going to cost, and how soon can we complete their project.
What information do you need from them to get to know their project?
Prior to starting a project we always have our clients fill out a design questionnaire. This helps us get a better understanding of their project and get to know a little more about them. This questionnaire also has a spot for them to upload their Pinterest page. We rely heavily on their Pinterest page to get a feel for their style and what they envision for the space. We also want to know budget for the project.
Do designers generally have limits on the size (too small or too large) of a project they’ll take on?
Every designer works differently in the types of projects and budgets they take on. When I started off, I would take projects with all different budgets, both high and low. Now that I am more established, with our Full Service Design clients we specialize in luxury design thus resulting in higher budgets. We did just start offering a Virtual Design Service that helps clients with all budgets.
What should people take into account when choosing a designer to work with?
Budget/personal style/full service or cosmetic only/etc. All of the above. It is important to choose a designer that you love their aesthetic and their work. It is also important to learn how a designer works and what their process is to make sure that you would be a good fit [for each other].
What advice would you give to people considering whether to hire an interior designer or to design a space themselves?
I would find a couple of designers [whose] style [you like] and talk to each of them to see how your personalities work together. I also find that most clients that love my style trust in my vision throughout the process, creating a more seamless project.
What are a few things you wish people knew about the benefits of working with a designer?
If you are thinking of hiring a designer for a remodel or new build, I would hire them at the planning stages. A designer will have insight that your architect or builder will not think of, like furniture placement. I would also hold off on buying anything if you know you are going to hire a designer. This will help you avoid making any mistakes in purchasing items that don’t work in the space or won’t fit.
+ Know your total budget before reaching out.
+ Ask a few designers you’re interested in working with about their fees and process.
+ Have an understanding of your personal style and what you’re wanting from your space.
+ Find someone you trust and enjoy spending time with to tackle your design projects.
+ It doesn’t have to be a giant, expensive project — designers can help you source a few key pieces or come up with a color palette if that’s all you need.
If you’ve been wondering how to start working with an interior designer, I hope this helps! –Lauren