Advice article: What to ask an interior designer | homify

Advice article: What to ask an interior designer

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Contemporary Residential Family Home by Deborah Garth Interior Design International (Pty)Ltd Modern
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Ever since being established back in March 1992, the award-winning company Deborah Garth Interior Design International has been changing the way South Africans experience interior splendour and deluxe lifestyles. Located in Johannesburg, Deborah Garth Interior Design is taking advantage of its passion for interior design, plus its 26+ years’ experience, to ensure first-rate results for its increasing customer base across Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and KwaZulu-Natal.

But what is it like working with a professional Interior Designer? Well, like everything else in life, proper planning is crucial right from the start. And that takes us to some of the more important questions to ask your potential interior designer before you start a business relationship…


1. “What services do you offer?”

It might sound like a silly question, but it’s not. Consider the fact that many interior design firms also offer additional services (like landscaping, crafting custom furnishings, etc.), while others (especially smaller ones) tend to focus on design-only projects.

Remember to also ask if the designer is willing (and able) to take on your project scale, as not all design firms are appropriately equipped to handle major designs/renovations. 


2. “What does your quote NOT cover?”

Contacting an interior designer out of the blue and asking them to “quote on your house” is impractical. How are they supposed to do their work if you don’t provide them with the appropriate info (like your budget, location, project timeline… ). 

And remember that not all quotations spell out all the payment details, which is why open and honest communication between you and your designer of choice is crucial. Find out which fees are merely estimates (expected to change) and which ones will remain as is. As a general rule of thumb, consultation fees are flat, but furnishing- and material costs are more likely to vary. 

homify hint: Before you ask for an estimated quote, find out from your designer what is the potential variation range (whether the costs will rise by 5% or 10%). Insist that your permission is needed before any cost changes are approved, and seek solutions with your designer to help keep costs down. 


3. “How must I pay?”

While some design projects may stay in a comfortable price range, others (especially large renovations) might require a loan. That’s why it is important to find out how your interior designer expects to be paid for their services. 

Many designers work on a deposit or commencement fee, which could equal anything from 15% to 50% while the balance is paid once all works are completed. Best communicate with your designer to see how both parties can agree on a payment scheme with no disadvantages to anyone. 


4. “What if I’m not happy with the design?”

After your initial consultation with your designer, a mock-up or visual of their design ideas is sure to follow (obviously after you’ve provided them with all the relevant information). But remember that it’s perfectly fine to ask your designer about their policy on design changes (being the professionals that they are, most designers understand that client changes are inevitable, even though there might be additional fees involved). 


5. “What must I do with my current furniture?”

Whether your budget is really small or you just love your existing furnishings and fittings, ask if you can fit you current stuff into your new design (which shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re moving in a completely different design route). 

Should your interior designer claim that the new design clashes with your old furnishings, ask for similar design options that make use of your existing pieces. 

homify hint: There’s no harm in asking your designer if they can access merchant discount or switch your old furnishings for newer ones to keep costs down. 


6. “What about a warranty period?”

What’s the point of a fantastic design project that lasts a mere few months thanks to low-quality fittings? During your initial meeting, ask your designer what the plan is should you not be 100% satisfied with the design/fitting results. And do keep in mind that some features, like bathroom- and kitchen fittings, plus carpet and flooring tend to have external warranties. 

homify hint: If your renovation project includes furniture and carpentry, then the onus is on the designer (or sub-contractor) to provide a warranty. Be sure to ask your designer about the warranty’s terms and duration, what type of damages you can claim, etc.

Be inspired by this modern renovation of an office loft and two bathrooms


What project of yours requires the assistance of a professional Interior Designer?
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