How to Choose Your Designer Soul-Mate

By: Devon Fromm

In today's Tinder-driven society, we've been conditioned to screen anyone that comes into our life.  I'll go as far as to argue that picking the right designer is as important as picking the right friends.  After all, they may only be in your life for a few months, but the design that they leave you with will be sticking around for years.  If you're going to invest in a designer, you want to feel confident about the return you'll be getting.  Fortunately, I've got some tips on what to look for and how to choose a designer you'll love.

1- Just like any relationship, communication is absolutely critical with your designer.  No matter what your project is, this person is going to be driving design decisions in your space that you are going to live with.  You need to feel comfortable enough to communicate clearly and not worry about offending them.  Keep in mind, no design is ever going to be perfect in the first try.  Design is a process, it's going to take revisions and adjustments before it is perfectly tailored to you.  It may feel awkward at first to point out things you want changed when it seems your designer put their heart and soul into the project, but trust me, they won't take it personally.  At the end of the day, your designer really cares about one thing and that is delivering a project that makes you thrilled and excited about showing it off.  After all, the best way for them to recruit new business is to have clients show off their work to friends.  That's not going to happen if you settle on a sofa that just doesn't feel right for you but you're afraid of hurting the designer's feelings.  Most designers will set up a time for a consult before starting a project which gives you both a chance to see how you vibe and if you will be able to communicate clearly and have fun throughout the process.

2- If you see something you like, find out who did it!  This applies to real life and social media.  Instagram, Houzz and Pinterest offer a plethora of opportunities to filter design styles and hone in on spaces that mimic what you are looking for.  Once you find them, figure out who designed the space!  Designer's are trained to deliver designs tailored to their client's taste, but every designer has an area of expertise.  The best way to find them is to work backwards and find the designs first.  Anytime I go into a store, restaurant or coffee shop that feels right to me, my first question is "who did it?".  Today, with sites like Homepolish, Decorist and Dwell Candy, almost anyone can afford to have a designer update and complete their home, so next time you're at a friend's or coworker's home and like what you see, ask if they hired someone!  At the very least, if they did it themselves, you're offering an awesome compliment.

3- Make sure your designer is comfortable working with your budget.  At the end of the day, good design costs money.  Fortunately, as I mentioned above, new sites are being released constantly that provide a platform for more affordable design.  The budget and scope of work you're looking for will play a key role in determining who to hire.  If you're looking to furnish your entire living room for under $5K, you could benefit from a greener designer who is familiar with more mainstream shops and has the ability to find unique touches that are still affordable.  However, if you're looking to invest in custom furnishings and have a more cushioned budget, you'll want an experienced designer that has worked with trade vendors and fabricators.  Designer's fees and portfolio often reflect their level of expertise and should help give a little more clarity.  But of course, you can always talk to the designer to get an understanding of their typical project budgets.  There's the chance to test that line of communication!

At the end of the day, find a designer that you are comfortable with who has produced work that appeals to you.  You don't know it yet, but they will be an important part of your life!  You're going to be talking almost daily and bringing them into a pretty intimate part of your life.  Who knows, after the project is done, you may have even made a new best friend!  

I hope this helps and makes the process a little less intimidating.  If you have any questions that weren't answered on here, feel free to reach out anytime, I'd love to continue the discussion!

-dgf