More than half of Tom Faulkner clients have an established relationship with an interior designer, and we believe that this pairing, when it works well, produces some of the most distinctive and exciting interior design schemes. But it can be difficult to know where to start if you are choosing an interior designer for the first time.
From our experience, the relationship with the right interior designer needs to be founded on trust, good communication and a clear understanding of parameters so before setting up any meetings with interior designers, think carefully about your project. Here are five key things to understand right from the outset:
1. The priority. Is it a hard deadline such as Christmas or school summer holidays when all the family will be at home? Is budget the priority? Or is the result the priority? Or is it more than one of those?
2. The total budget. Be clear about this as it will be helpful for the designer and firm to understand the scope of work they can achieve for your budget.
3. How involved you want to be. Do you want to be involved and collaborate with the interior designer, or do you want them to make all the design decisions?
4. Reporting on progress and service levels. Think about how often you want to kept up-to-date on the progress of the different stages of the project, when contractors will be on and off site, costs, invoicing, etc. Get ready to discuss this with the designers you choose to meet and listen to what they suggest and how the best projects work in their experience.
5. Your style. Think about those interesting and inspirational pieces you have seen or designs that you like. Pull out pictures from magazines and create a Pinterest board or a folder of all the images you have found online. Share as much as possible upfront as this will help the designer.
This may seem like a long and rather in-depth list of things to consider before even meeting an interior designer but from our experience the most successful relationships between a client and interior designer is when they feel comfortable with each other and this clarity upfront will pay dividends.
That said, this also needs to feel like a partnership where you trust the expertise and design vision of the interior designer. Seeing their previous work and understanding how they develop concepts and schemes will be invaluable. Select and meet a few designers to find one that works well with you and whose work inspires you.
When researching which interior designers to meet, start with the BIID, the UK’s leading professional body for interior designers. All BIID registered designers must annually prove their continual professional development and standards in order to remain professionally accredited meaning the standard is high. Through their BIID membership they will also have access to insurance, policies and a wide variety of professional support that is invaluable for them and you throughout your project.
Secondly, House & Garden publish an annual list of the top 100 interior designers in the UK: https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk/topic/top-100 The listing helpfully links through to several of the projects by each interior designer giving visitors a chance to toggle through a virtual portfolio.
Houzz is also a good place to browse through the portfolios and details of interior design professionals near you. You can see reviews from clients, see what products they have specified and get a good understanding of the budget parameters they work within. Start from our profile on Houzz if you like and browse from that point onwards: Tom Faulkner on Houzz
Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask your friends and network for recommendations on interior designers to work with. They will be able to give first-hand information on how well their project went and how that interior designer worked.
We hope you enjoy the process and find the interior designer for you and your project!