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Sarah at Christmas

Sarah at Christmas

Thursday, November 14, 2013


CHOOSING A DESIGN PROFESSIONAL

By Gay N. Lewis

 

Before I became a published author with Prism Book Group, I worked as an interior designer. Sarah: Laney's Angel, my second book in the Sarah series, is about a Houston designer who works for a builder.  I drew from my personal experiences as I wrote the book.
 
When I worked in the profession, I found that choosing a design expert was a daunting experience for most people.  I wrote the following criteria to help clients choose the appropriate specialist.


When choosing a design professional, one needs to consider experience, personality, budget, style and fees.
 
 
EXPERIENCE.  How long has the professional been in the design field?  Does he or she have access to manufacturers, retailers, and contractors?  Does a portfolio exist?  Can he or she give references? 

 
PERSONALITY.  Is the professional willing to work with the client’s personality?  Does the professional have an agreeable personality?  Does the professional comprehend the needs the client presents?  Is he or she critical of existing surroundings?  Does he or she make the client feel inadequate?  Is the professional’s personality one the client is comfortable with?

 
BUDGET.  After deciding the budget, the client should make sure the professional understands the financial guidelines.  Understanding a budget can prevent heart aches later.  Some professionals present furniture, accessories, and other ideas that are too costly.  Clients sometimes find it embarrassing to say, “That isn’t in my budget.”  When a professional presents ideas outside the budget guidelines, a client often feels let down because it is something they cannot have at that time.

 
STYLE.   Is the professional current and comfortable with a variety of styles?  If the professional doesn’t enjoy working with a preferred style, or doesn’t seem to recognize that style, have him or her recommend another designer.  If the client doesn’t have a design preference in mind, is the professional willing to help the client define a style?  

 
FEES.  This is important. Ask the designer how much the fee is and how and when it is to be paid.  Some designers “double dip,” that is to say they charge a fee on top of commissions they receive from vendors.  A few choose an hourly rate. Others markup purchases they make for a client and their fee is the difference in price.  Agree on the fee.   Is there a contract to be signed?  Is there a retainer required for the professional’s services?  Understand from the beginning the designer’s charges, and include them in the budgeting process.

 
Working with a design professional is a rewarding experience.  It saves money, relieves a client of distasteful choices, and saves the client time.  The designer is able to give the client an aesthetic surrounding that accommodates the client’s style, is pleasing to the eye, and well within the client’s budget.


 I'll post future design tips, and I hope you'll read Sarah: Laney's Angel.  It's a lighthearted work of fiction based upon the life of a designer.