What do you find most challenging about designing a home? Mark also recommends asking what a designer finds most challenging about designing a home, which can help you to avoid snags in communication later down the line. Understanding where a firm’s strengths and weaknesses lie will help you determine whether or not it is the right match for your project, scope, and timeline.
What is your project-management style like? “The value of a good interior designer extends beyond paying for good taste,” Paloma says. “Be sure to ask your designer how they will communicate their vision in a way that you can easily digest.” If you’re unsure about what you hear, consider it a red flag. Paloma’s team, for example, presents every selection at once—fabrics, finishes, floor plans, renderings, etc.—”so that the clients will see how every piece works in cohesion with the next, and how all of the rooms relate to one another.” And then execution is full-service: “We manage the process from the design phase, through the procurement phase in which we place and manage orders, schedule and warehouse deliveries, and manage contractors, and on to the final installation when clients get the wow factor of the full reveal.” Every designer handles project management differently, so it’s important to have a firm and clear grasp of how your designer’s process works.
What is an example of a mistake you made on a project, how did you handle it, and what did you learn from it? Working with an interior designer should also help you to avoid costly mistakes, so Mark suggests asking your designer about a time this has happened to a client on his or her watch. It will show what the designer has learned on prior projects, how crises are dealt with, and what the overall response to mitigating issues will be. Plus, you might learn how the designer has baked in preventative measures. “You won’t end up with furniture that doesn’t fit or feel right because we present a full picture to you in the beginning rather than showing you one item or room at a time,” says Paloma. For added insurance, her team “works as your advocate with tradespeople and vendors, and are there to provide solutions whenever things go wrong.”
What do you prioritize when planning a budget? Mark recommends asking this question since your priorities might differ from the designer’s. Talking that out beforehand rather than in the middle of a project can make a world of difference in terms of avoiding unnecessary conflict.