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How to hire guide: interior designers

Interior designers can transform our homes, turning them into attractive and functional living spaces – but how do you find, hire and work with the best?

Finding the right interior designer

The easiest way to find the right interior designer is to look at examples of the work they have undertaken. An interior designer should be able to show you examples of their work either in a showroom or in pictures of previous projects. You’ll find reputable interior designers on Which? Trusted Traders – look at the drawings and photographs they have uploaded to their profile, in conjunction with the business description and reviews.

Check whether the the interior designer has carried out similar work? Do they have a signature style or can they adapt to the preferences of different clients? Check references and testimonials from other clients - they may be willing to let you visit their properties to see the work the designer has done.

The British Institute of Interior Design is a well-respected trade organisation with rigorous entry requirements which assess training, experience and professionalism. All members of the British Institute of Interior Design have professional indemnity insurance – make sure any interior designer you hire does too.

Getting quotes for interior design work

When you call, it’s good to have a rough idea of the work you would like to commission, but don’t expect an immediate quote. Good interior designers will visit you at your home to talk some more about your requirements and to look at the property. Prepare for the visit by gathering examples of schemes or items you like. Think about how the space will be used. You could also think about whether you want to fix a budget.

Always get at least three quotes when hiring tradespeople of any kind. Ask for a ‘quote’ rather than an ‘estimate’ – our guide to avoiding cowboy traders explains the difference.

Getting along with the interior designer is important because you’ll need to work closely with them throughout the project. When comparing quotes, remember that he cheapest interior designer might not be the best. Can you trust them to interpret your ideas into a scheme that’s both functional and attractive?

You’ll also need to think about whether to hire a business or in independent freelancer. An individual is more likely to be flexible with their working hours, but an interior design company might have several designers with different specialties and better connections to suppliers and subcontractors. 

Paying interior designers 

It’s unusual for interior designers to work by the hour for large jobs. Ordinarily, they will give you a price in advance. You could reasonably be asked to pay an instalment when the work begins, especially if the job involves buying lots of materials or subcontracting the likes of building, fitting or decorating work.

If you are engaging an interior designer only to source furniture or bespoke items like fitted blinds or curtains, then they might just add a fee on top of the purchasing costs.

Accepting interior design work

Nothing should come as a surprise when the interior design work is complete, as the designer should have involved you in all key decisions, agreed a price in advance and kept you informed about any changes to the plans.

If anything does not meet your expectations, take it up with the designer before paying the final instalment. Interior designers thrive on word-of-mouth and online recommendations and consequently should strive to please their customers.

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