The notion to hire a professional interior designer can be an exciting and nerve wracking undertaking. Where do you start? We’ve come up with a few crucial things you should do before hiring.

♥1 Narrow the choices. Like anything else, there are a million choices but you don’t need to investigate them all. Ask friends associates if they have someone to recommend. Their project doesn’t necessarily have to match your taste and style exactly, but should reflect good design in that it was well planned and executed. A talented designer is able to design in many styles and tailor designs to the client.

♥2 Check Credentials. Make sure that the person is an accredited interior designer. This ensures that you will work with a designer who has the education and experience required to practice professionally. They have passed the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) Exam which sets the minimum standards for professional practice. Professional Members of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) use the appellation ASID after their names which also signifies that they have passed the NCIDQ Exam. ASID members must also adhere to a strict code of ethics and professional conduct and are required to maintain continuing education credits each year.

♥3 Portfolio Review. Review their on-line portfolio/website more closely. Think about what you love and why. While it is natural to admire a particular style, realize that it is not the only factor. A good designer solves problems and addresses each client individually to provide tailored design solutions. Narrow it down to 2-3 designers whose work speaks to you and contact them to discuss your project.

♥4 The Initial Meeting. This meeting serves multiple purposes: it allows you to meet the designer and see if there is rapport between you; gives you the opportunity to ask the designer questions about their portfolio, experience and the design process; enables the designer to determine the scope of work and gather enough information about the project to prepare a proposal. Have an idea of what you would like to spend or ask the designer for advice.

♥6: Rapport. Personal rapport is very important in a client-designer relationship. Typical projects last at least several months or longer, so it is beneficial to have a good personal connection. You will need to trust this person and feel comfortable. Ask yourself, are they good communicators and easy to talk to; do they understand your needs, wants, goals and budget?

♥7: Get an agreement. After the initial meeting, the designer will submit a proposal which should outline the scope of work, the services to be provided and the design fee. Carefully review the proposal and confirm that the scope of work is correct and complete. If you are dealing with a firm as opposed to an individual designer, know who will be responsible for your project.

Interior designers charge in various ways with the 3 most common being: an hourly rate, a fixed fee, or a combination of hourly rate/fixed fee plus a markup on products. Their fee structure may vary depending on the project. There is no hard and fast rule and fees vary enormously depending on many factors including project location, scope and the experience and talent of the designer. Make sure that the fee structure is clearly identified and agreed upon in advance.

If you follow these few steps, hiring a professional designer will be an easy process. It will become clear who the right person is for your project!