Tips For Working With A Designer

The warmer, brighter days have many of us thinking not just about spring cleaning, but about home renovations. If you’re undertaking a new project, or embarking on a new build, you’ll likely want to work with a number of experts, including an interior designer.  As a company that’s continually working with builders, contractors and designers, we have some tips on getting the most out of your relationship. – Kristina Matisic


(above photo courtesy of Melissa Carl)

Ask about their process and timeline. When you’re interviewing designers, be sure to ask about their process. That includes exactly what they’re going to put together for you and how they’re going to do it. You’ll want to hire someone who either has the technical expertise, or works with team members who do, and who can create the necessary drawings, renderings, and documentation that will work for your builder or contractor.

Responsiveness is also key: Does the neighbourhood’s hottest designer have the time to take you on? Be sure to get a good understanding of all timelines, not just in terms of the designer’s workload, but how long it will take to order and receive furniture, fittings, and appliances.


(above photo courtesy of Isabey Interiors)

Work with someone you like (But also check their references.) Sounds like a given! But even a small bathroom or laundry renovation can be a stressful affair and you’ll likely be working closely with your designer. You’re going to want to hire someone you like, respect, and trust, so don’t rush the hiring process, or hire someone just based on their reputation.

When you do find a few designers you like, ask to see images of previous projects and be sure to check references. Friends, colleagues and Coast Appliances staff are great sources for recommendations. While a good designer should be able to adapt their style and listen to their client, it’s often easier to hire someone who has a similar aesthetic.


(above photo courtesy of Isabey Interiors)

Bring your designer in early. The plans are all drawn up, the build is in full swing, so let’s go hire an interior designer, right? It’s actually much better to bring them into the process early. For one, you want to ensure your designer works well with the builder. It’s valuable to sit everyone down at the start and establishing roles and responsibilities.

But even more importantly, a designer can identify things you may have not thought of, and they can help avoid potentially costly pitfalls.

Kelowna-based interior designer Trisha Isabey says a lot of design features in your home need to be implemented on your plan or you can miss out clever design opportunities such as niches, optimum wall dimensions for art placement, or the most practical kitchen design.

“In the kitchen, a lot of people focus on having the sink by the window. But we don’t really spend a lot of time washing dishes any more,” says Isabey. “Putting a sink on the island can be a lot more practical. It gives you a great space for entertaining and a convenient place with lots of room to prep for meals.”


(above photo courtesy of Isabey Interiors)

Get a good handle on costs and fees. Some designers charge by square foot, others go by a flat fee per area, while other charge an hourly rate, but give you a quote in advance.

Regardless of the billing system, the relationship should start with a comprehensive scope of work. The designer should provide a document delineating everything they’re going to do for your project.  And each area that they’re going to work in should have an estimation of hours and their fee.


(above photo courtesy of Isabey Interiors)

Consider investing in renderings. Yes, they can cost more, but Isabey advises that paying for renderings can save you time and money in the long run.

“People can’t always visualize what they’ve chosen,” says Isabey. “I always recommend investing in 3D renderings for very important rooms, like the kitchen, master bath and great room. That way they can see everything they’ve chosen in a photograph-like setting and they can adjust the course from there.”


(above photo courtesy of Isabey Interiors)

Delineate who’s doing what. Once you have that all-important scope of work, you can decide which parts of the job, if any, you want to take on yourself. (One way to save money!) Just want someone else to do the whole thing? Don’t expect a hands-off experience.  Isabey says it’s critical that the client is part of the process.

“That doesn’t mean I haven’t pulled samples ahead of time. I try to narrow down the selection so that they’re not walking blindly into the store and having to look at every tile or sample. But we do want them a part of the process, we do want them to feel in touch with the elements they’re going to be putting into their home.”


(above photo courtesy of Isabey Interiors)

Be sure to communicate. Designers prefer clients who have an opinion – it makes their job easier. If you don’t like something, or aren’t sure about it, say so.  

“Communication is critical. We try to ensure that all along the way they know what we’ve done. We put together a mood board that starts to build all the pieces that we will use in each individual room. The client can go back to that board and reassess their selection at any time.”

The designer’s job is to push a little bit, suggesting ideas you may not have considered yourself.

But Isabey cautions that there’s a difference between communicating and second-guessing. There has to be a degree of trust that the person you’ve hired will do the job, effectively and efficiently.

“Don’t hire the dog and bark yourself,” says Isabey with a laugh.

Visit Isabey Interiors Web-Site – click here