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The Questions You’re Not Asking an Interior Decorator — But Should Be


When it comes to giving your home (or business) a stylish overhaul, finding the right person for the job can be a tricky process. Bringing your creative vision to life means collaborating with a professional whose process you need to have 100 percent confidence in.

How do you begin the search for the perfect pro? Interior decorator Alix Helps says it’s as simple as asking the right questions. Helps, who has a degree in interior decoration and styling from Sydney’s International School of Color and Design in Sydney, Australia, reveals the top five things to ask your interior expert before hiring them.

What are your qualifications?

“If you want your interiors to look amazing and have a cohesive style, you should always hire a professional,” Helps says. “You can check qualifications by simply asking to see certification and requesting a chat with previous clients who have engaged their services on similar projects.”

Now’s also the time to determine whether you’ll need the services of an interior designer or decorator — the two professions are often confused, but their roles vary significantly.

“Interior designers are concerned with every aspect of the interior space, including its layout, allocation, and use. They can be brought into projects prior to construction, and their role is to create safe, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing interior spaces that are fit for purpose,” Helps explains. “An interior decorator, on the other hand, may be engaged to dress a pre-existing interior space, working with paints, wallpapers, furnishings, floor coverings, fabrics, and artworks. Most often, if you’re seeking to furnish and decorate what has already been built, an interior decorator is the right person to hire.”

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Alix describes her own style as eclectic. “I love working with pattern and color, layering fabrics and wallpapers to create an eye-catching scheme.” (Photo Credit: Jason Denton)

Can I see examples of your previous work?

Don’t just dive in — do your research and check out the websites and social media accounts of possible interior experts you’re considering working with.

“I think you can really get a good feel for whether you’d like to work with someone by looking at their previous work,” Helps says. “Make sure they have a good portfolio with professionally presented photography and have worked on similar projects before.”

Although many interior decorators are flexible and can create different styles, finding an expert who has previously worked in your desired style will make for a smoother collaboration. Testimonials from previous clients can also help you gauge how a professional or company works. All reputable experts will be happy to share these with you if they’re not already displayed on their website.

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(Photo Credit: Helen Ward)

How can I be involved in the creative process?

If you’re looking to have an input into your home’s design update, Helps advises doing your homework to identify the styles that best appeal to you.

Pinterest is a really useful tool for building idea books of things that you love. When you look back, it’s easy to identify a theme or style that you are leaning towards.”

Be direct with what you do and do not like. Your interiors expert will be able to deliver better results if they have a clear understanding of the styles that appeal to you.

How will we be communicating?

Communication between client and creative is key.

“The design process is a collaborative one that requires regular communication. Projects need to stay on schedule to ensure delivery and installations meet deadlines. If you know that you can be indecisive, trust the person that you committed to hiring, and allow them the creative freedom to achieve something wonderful in your home. That’s what you’re paying them for!”

How will you be billing me?

If you’re working with a professional, there should be no surprise expenses encountered mid-project.

“All costs should be clearly laid out following a detailed on-site consultation,” Helps says. “Fifty percent of the design fee is invoiced at the start of the project, with the balance due on presentation of concepts and designs. The client signs off on this fee at the same time that they approve the detailed design brief, which clearly lists every aspect of the scope.”

To ensure client and creative expectations are clearly met and managed, Helps says setting a budget is crucial.

“Usually my clients set a fixed budget or we agree [on] a price range that I’ll work within. It’s a much easier process if you can do this. Firstly, it means that there are no surprises or disappointments, and secondly, your designer can work more effectively knowing where to source pieces that will suit your project.”

This post was written by a guest writer. For more, check out our sister site Homes to Love.

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