Spring is a time that brings a desire to tackle your to-do list, clean out, and update those areas that you’ve noticed are not up to par (especially after spending so much time inside during winter!).
Before you embark on your desired interior design project, this is a must read. Cynthia Porche gives a no holes barred interview with truthful advice that can help you make informed decisions before your project even starts.
Q: What is the most important thing to look for in an interior designer?
CP: Integrity. An honest, transparent working relationship is key to the success of any project. Expectations for each of you must be agreed upon so there is accountability both during, and at the end of a project.
Q: How important are references?
CP: You MUST check references. This is imperative. Granted, you will be given references for people who are happy with the designer’s work, but you may glean important information by speaking with them. The key questions to ask are:
- What was the scope of the project(s)?
- Do you feel that she/he listened to you?
- Did the designer stay on budget? If not, why?
- What is their personality like?
- How did she/he take criticism?
- What would you have done differently?
- Would you work with this designer again and why?
Q: Should I use sites like Houzz, Facebook or Pinterest in choosing a designer?
CP: There are a plethora of sites to look at portfolios, ideas and inspiration. Word of mouth is still king, but it is good to be able to see some of the designer’s work online. The simple truth is that it is hard to tell sometimes whether the work shown on these sites are really the work of that designer, or just something they liked and posted on the site. Be sure to research so you can answer, “Is this really the work of this person, or someone else?” If you are getting ready to give someone your hard earned money, make sure you know what you’re paying for.
Q: If I am involved in a renovation project, there will be many people in and out of my home during the construction phase. Some designers do not carry insurance. What if someone is injured at my home?
CP: I cannot stress enough the importance of Liability Insurance. If your designer who is contracting your project does NOT carry Liability Insurance, you had better make sure that each sub-contractor does. The implications of hiring someone without Liability Insurance can be catastrophic.
Q: If I don’t have any building experience, how do I know what kind of job my designer and contractors are doing?
CP: If you have vetted your designer and contractor, you should trust them to do the job right; after all, that’s what you are paying them for! However, there are some who will use short cuts and other means that may not be what you were quoted. You should inspect during the process even if you’re not sure what you are looking for. If you see something that “just doesn’t seem right”, definitely get it on record. It may be something that was just overlooked or inadvertent, OR a problem. Trust your instincts.
Q: Sometimes, the unforeseen can happen. What should my designer do when something goes awry?
CP: You should have determined together the quality of the products that will be used at all stages of your project. If everything is installed properly and something goes wrong, many times it is not the designer’s fault. It could be a vendor issue. Your designer is your voice and should follow up on any issues to correct them, as long as they are within the original scope, or mutually modified scope of the project.
Communication is imperative throughout the process. If you choose a designer that you have researched, communicated the scope and budget for the project, and have a mutual trust with your designer, you will have a fabulous experience, and become a reference yourself!