It can be very confusing to work with a designer, especially if this is your first time. So let me break down what we do into a 5 step process:
Initial Client Contact: You hop online or ask a friend for a designer in town that they worked with or know of. You call or email that designer to ask about their services. Maybe you chat a little bit about what styles you like, what the scope of your project is, your budget, etc.
Set up an in-person Meeting on Site: You meet the designer at your home so they can take measurements, you can chat more in depth about what kind of services are needed, maybe they even make some suggestions for you. Sometimes Designers will charge for this meeting, as it does take their time away from other projects, but often times Designers will credit back a client the initial design fee once the contract is signed (I do!). You will have to discuss these details with your designer, as everyone runs their business’ a little differently.
The Designer will take all of their notes and measurements, turn these into a “project scope” which will be outlined in their contract agreement. If you agree to their prices and the scope of work they are suggesting, then you can move into the next step:
The Designer gets to work on your project! They will usually start with a floorplan, drafting your space and figuring out what size furniture will fit best in the room. Then the designer will access their vendor lists and select furniture that is the right size and scale for your space. Often times designers have access to vendors that clients do not (I certainly have a great list of vendors!). Designers will use these furniture selections to create a few options for you and your space (I usually provide 3 options for clients in the “first run”). Of these three options, clients can pick what they love, don’t love, want to see more options of, etc. There are NO HARD FEELINGS if you don’t love what a designer came up with. Really! Don’t feel bad if the selections they picked for you aren’t perfect for you and your home. It is your home, you are going to live there, surrounded by these things- your Designer is not. Be PIcky! Designers are trained to “read between the lines” so they more specific you can get about what you love, don’t love, and why, the better! This is where I think most clients are concerned; “What if my designer takes control and I don’t have a say?” Well, unless you are on TV and the entire design is a surprise to you, the process should be a type of partnership. You should work TOGETHER with your designer. REMEMBER: You came to them because you liked their aesthetic (or you liked what your friend or family member’s house).
After you and the designer have selected all the furniture, art, accessories, drapes, etc. in your home, the Designer will come up with a budget (or this may be discussed along the way during your “revisions” in Step 4. Once the total budget has been determined, the Designer will (or should) present you with what we call “cutsheets” which are sheets of paper with each item and all the details about that product written down. For example, if it is a custom sofa, it will have the fabric color, leg color, type of cushion, type of leg, length/width/depth, etc. to make sure what you and the designer discussed are the same, and that you both came to the agreement of all the details on their piece of furniture. Each vendor will require different “down-payments”, sometimes it is half the total cost, sometimes more or less. Your designer and you can discuss how payments will be made. Then your designer and their team will start purchasing and coordinating shipments and deliveries. You can either have the “grand reveal” like the TV shows, or you can have items shipped directly to your house as they are ready. I usually suggest the “grand reveal” because it allows for the Designer to correct any errors prior to delivery, and if items are delivered, they may not have the right space to be stored. For example, if you order a table lamp, but don’t have the table the lamp is supposed to sit on yet, where will you safely store this lamp?
Installation: (This isn’t really a step in working with a designer, but it is good to know what happens on the day of installation). Designers will coordinate with all professionals needed for times and dates that work with everyone’s schedule. Once the installation is complete, the final reveal happens! You get to see your whole “new” space for the first time. You and the designer should walk around the room, making sure everything is working, there are no broken or damaged pieces (if there are, the designer will work directly with the vendor to handle this usually), then you can sign the final bill, and write that final check. Now, you get to enjoy your space! Have a party, invite friends, family, and neighbors over! Show off your professionally designed space!