You’ve decided you want the guiding hand and the creative eye of an interior designer for your project – firstly, congratulations, it’s a big decision and marks the start of an exciting collaboration. While it is the interior designer’s role to shape your home into all that you’d hoped for, there are definitely things that you can (and should) bring to the table to make the most of the partnership.
Your initial session with the interior designer is a crucial one. This is your first proper meeting of minds where they’ll want to get under the skin of you, your home, everyone who’s under your roof, your rituals and rhythms.
Here are our top 10 things to think about before you get together:
- What’s your number one goal? Is it purely a facelift to fix disliked decor? Or is there a fundamental problem with flow and you’d like the whole space to be reimagined? Maybe there’s one overriding wish that you’d love to achieve, such as a useful, but beautiful boot room. Try to have a think about what’s really important in advance of your meeting and be ready to talk it through with your designer.
- Think about how you really live. Your home deserves to look its best but it also needs to function for you and your family. So be honest and open about how you live so the designer can create a scheme that suits you in every sense. Share any details like wanting space to roll out a yoga mat or your desperation to avoid dozens of shoes by the front door. Do you have a huge collection of books currently in boxes that you long to have properly displayed? Your interior designer will be keen to hear if so.
- Be prepared for a creative Q&A. Less something to think about prior to your meeting and more of a good-to-know. Interior designers ask a lot of questions in this first meeting, but rest assured it’s all part of the process and the process starts with serious digging.
- Decide on your decision makers. Ideally, anyone who is going to be a key decision maker in the project should be at that first meeting so you’re all introduced and on the same page from the word go.
- What’s for keeps? Before your meeting, think through which existing furniture and fittings are to stay and which you’re happy to see the back of. Is your interior designer working with a blank canvas or are there cherished pieces that you want to hold onto? What about any beloved artwork that you’d like to make a feature of in your new scheme? Information like this can steer the project’s whole design language and colour palette so it’s hugely helpful to mention this up front.
- How do you want your interior to feel? This is an important one to ponder prior to your meeting. Are you after calming, natural colours and an overall feeling of peace and serenity? Or do you want a home that’s energised with plenty of colour and pattern? And if you’re not sure, don’t panic. Your interior designer will help you figure all of that out, but any thoughts you might have are helpful to raise in your first meeting together.
- Try a little mood boarding if you can. Bring along any tear sheets from magazines, saved images on Instagram or a Pinterest board that you’ve put together – this will be like gold dust to your designer. A picture speaks a thousand words after all.
- The B word – budget. It might not be very British to talk money, but you’ll need to be honest and realistic with your designer from the word go. Giving them a budget to work to will keep things in the realms of what’s realistic. It’s also worth knowing that a designer can rarely quote until they understand the scope of your project, so their fee structure will likely follow on from the meeting.
- Your input and theirs. Talking of scope, you might want to give some thought as to just how much you’d like your designer to take on. Would you like them to plan schemes with you, providing drawings for you to run with? Or do you want an interior designer who will manage the whole project, procuring every last fixture and overseeing every last detail?
- Timeframes. And finally, do you have a rough timeline in mind? Are you hosting a family wedding in the garden at the start of autumn and need it all wrapped up by then? Classic project management says you it’s better not to start with an end date and work backwards, but if you are hoping to have the project complete in time for a specific event, do mention this right at the beginning.
And remember, don’t get too het up when thinking all of this through. Your part in all of this isn’t to have the solution, but to help your interior designer set out on the right path to find the answer. Above all, don’t be daunted by your initial meeting. Residential projects are very personal and the aim is to leave on the same wavelength so your designer can create a home that feels like you and brings you joy every single day.