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June 2022 - The Design Process Q & A: Top 5 Questions to Ask a Designer When Starting a New Project

Starting a new home project or renovation can be exciting, thought provoking and nerve wracking all at the same time. There’s a slew of things to consider when you’re preparing and a number of items you’ll want to be proactive about. Planning ahead for your home project is crucial and makes all the difference in the overall process’s success.

But, let’s be honest with ourselves, not many of us have the know-how to plan, design and implement a home project or renovation. You wouldn’t try to work on your car if you’re not a mechanic, you leave it to the professional, so bring in the professionals when it comes to home design. Before you search for the right designer to hire, you’ll want to know the right questions to ask (and the right answers). So here’s a little cheatsheet! The top 5 questions to ask your designer when beginning a new project.

  1. What is your design process? Understanding your designer’s process will provide you confidence in their decision making. The most effective design process includes planning, conceptual design, design development and implementation/install. During the planning phase, you and your designer will have an initial meeting to discuss your needs and wants, this will be followed by a scope of work being laid out in a contract which should be signed by both parties. The next phase, conceptual design typically includes design ideas, inspiration, mood boards, and possibly sketches of your design. These will be reviewed together and a more clear cut design direction for your project will be decided on at completion of this phase. Next, we have design development, during which your project fully takes form. Final plans, finishes, furniture, vendors, contractors, etc. are defined. Once everything is confirmed by you and the designer confirms that they will be able to coordinate all services and products, then implementation/install will occur. This final phase will include any construction, painting, ordering, installing and staging that is needed to complete your project.

  2. What are your design fees and can you work within my budget? Every designer should have a set fee structure for their services, either available online or at request. A great example is Bella Home Interiors Services page! However, depending on the project, its needs and the scope, the cost of a project may need to be determined after an initial meeting during the planning phase. A fixed fee may be used for certain projects and all cost information will always be provided within the contract presented by the designer. Many designers are able to work within your budget, but it’s important for the client to be realistic about their budget and what that provides them. Open communication with your designer about the costs of the project all along the way is necessary and will bring success to your project!

  3. How long will my project take? The life cycle of any project is directly related to the client’s wants, needs and flexibility. There are also other factors that come into play. Client reviews and approvals, contractor and material availability, and the designer’s workload. A good designer will never take on too many projects at once, their concern will be quality over quantity. You’ll want to go with a designer who has the time to give your project the focus it needs. Keep in mind though, your designer will most likely have other clients to provide time to as well, be sure not to expect all of your designer’s time and be respectful of their hours. In the end, your designer will dedicate the attention your project needs and that will be reflected in the finished product!

  4. What if I have to put my project on hold once it’s started? Life can be unexpected and things happen that we couldn’t have planned for. It’s important for you and your designer to discuss a plan of action in the event that either party needs to put a hold on a project. There should be information in your contract that notes the plan of action and what the financial aspect of that looks like as well. A designer will always be willing to work together to find the best solutions for completing your project, even if the unexpected happens!

  5. Can you describe your design style and are you willing to work with mine? Every designer has their own style that they lean towards. And for some, they are specifically sought out for that style. Many clients have their own aesthetic that they’re partial to, but also don’t know how to implement it. Find a designer who has a style that you like but is also willing to make your project look how you want it to look. No designer should ever impose their likes or dislikes over yours. You want to find someone who can provide their expertise and know how, who can guide you in the right directions, but can explain why something you want may not work or be the right choice without pushing their own agenda onto your decisions.

You know the questions, you know the answers to look out for, now start the search for your designer! The beauty in hiring the right designer is that they will learn what you love for your home, they’ll adapt to your needs in the design process and deliver the perfect mix of professional knowledge with your personal touch. When it comes time for your next project, you and your designer will be able to jump right into the process without skipping a beat! Bella Home Interiors prides itself in their repeat clients, make an appointment for your upcoming project and become one of them!

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