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Hiring an Interior Designer? The Top 4 Questions To Ask for Success

May 21, 2024

I can often be found in the dance studio (or my kitchen) working on my bachata form or creating with my kids and husband, who inspire me daily and are the "why" behind what I do. An avid baker, I am often making a new bread recipe, baking homemade cinnamon rolls, or desperately trying to drink the rest of my coffee while it's hot. My mission? To help others create and cultivate a home that they love!

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Hiring an Interior Designer? The Top Four Questions to Ask for Success

Hiring an Interior Designer: The Top Four Questions to Ask for Success

Consider the relief from stress and heartache that comes with hiring a professional full-service interior designer. A passionate pro can swiftly create a beautiful, functional space, often in less time and with less stress than attempting it alone. By taking the design process off your plate, we allow you the free time to explore your hobbies and interests. At the same time, we craft a beautiful home for you to relax, enjoy, and reap the benefits of enhanced connection and relationships. 


You can scour Pinterest or magazine articles and daydream about the fabulous rooms you see. But are you creating something similar in your own home? It feels impossible, especially when you consider the millions of options available. Even if something looks beautiful, it may not work with your existing pieces and elements in your home. 


But don’t feel bad! Designing a space that meets your functional and aesthetic goals while staying on track with your planned investment is challenging for most people. However, as a full-service interior design firm, we are committed to working within your planned investment. We will help you prioritize your design goals and find cost-effective solutions, ensuring you get the most value from your investment. 

Designer Resources:

Interior designers bring a wealth of resources and expertise, enabling them to craft a cohesive vision that meets all your goals and stands the test of time. However, your input is crucial in this process. When you engage a designer, you enlist an expert to solve your design challenges. Still, your preferences and vision are always at the forefront. Your input ensures that the final design truly reflects your style and needs, providing you with peace of mind and confidence in the outcome.


Working with a professional full-service interior designer offers many unique benefits. Our extensive expertise and knowledge enable us to tackle unique design challenges. We have access to a wide range of products that are not readily available to homeowners, and we maintain connections with reliable contractors and skilled tradespeople. We carefully select and manage these contractors, ensuring they meet our high quality and reliability standards and that your project is completed to the highest standard. 

Hiring an Interior Designer | Asking the Right Questions:

When it comes to hiring a full-service interior designer, you may have a myriad of ideas about how the process will unfold. Asking the right questions is crucial to being an informed consumer and ensuring an effective working relationship with your interior designer. This understanding allows you to set accurate expectations and build a better relationship with your designer.


While your interior designer should know and be upfront about the project costs, billing and payment terms, and project timelines, there are a few key questions that are the most important to ask your interior designer to understand better what the process will be like. These include questions about the designer’s process, your expectations, additional fees, and how they will communicate throughout your project. Below, we explain these questions and why they are essential. 


We value your questions and will provide personalized responses to ensure you feel heard and understood.


What’s your design process? How much time does each part of the process take?


This question is critical to understanding what to expect when hiring an interior designer. Although many designers follow a similar process, you must understand your designer’s progression from initial ideas to completed spaces.

Our Signature Process:

Here’s what you can expect when you work with our firm:

Before You’re a Client:

    1. Complimentary Design Discovery Session: We’ll define your vision and get to know you and your paint points and goals, along with lifestyle, 45-60 minutes
    2. Home Review Assessment/ Project Feasibility: We’ll meet at your home to unlock your home’s potential while we get an understanding of your lifestyle and needs (up to 90 minutes)
    3. Project Feasibility Study, assessment of needs to determine project viability; we’ll get contractor quotes, etc., in Two weeks or more, depending on the complexity
    4. Preparation of Design Details & Agreement: We’ll prepare your customized proposal and agreement according to your project vision 2-3 business days after the assessment

Once You’re a Client:

    1. New Client Onboarding: Our welcome packet is sent, along with detailed information about expectations and our popular (and thorough) questionnaire, upon receipt of the signed agreement + design fee deposit. VIP Waitlist clients included.
    2. Design Phase & Project Kickoff: During Kickoff, we’ll celebrate and learn more about you as we review your questionnaire, 2 to 8 weeks (or more) after we officially kick off your project, we’ll be ready to present your Concept design —opportunities for revisions/reselection.
    3. Final Design Phase: We’ll present your refined design and final selections before entering the Design Implementation Phase —opportunities for revisions/reselection.
    4. Design Implementation/Support Phase: Our firm will process all orders and perform site visits where necessary for project progress; once you’ve approved the design, the implementation phase can take 8-12 weeks for furniture-only projects or 12-16 weeks or more for projects that include construction
    5. Installation & Big Reveal: We’ll coordinate White-Glove delivery of your goods, provide on-site management for your install day, and select accessories to complete your room(s). Typically, we’ll be ready to install 8-16 weeks after the design is approved. Depending on the size of the project, there may be more than one installation.


What will you need from me, and when will you need it? When will you need me to be available?

Hiring an Interior Designer | Time Commitment:

You’ll want to know what your time commitment will need to be throughout the interior design process. Every interior designer offers different services with varying levels of support and access, so you’ll want to make sure you fully understand whether you’ll need to be hands-on or hands-off or if there are certain parts where you’ll be more involved than others. Yes, you are handing the bulk of the work off to a professional — that’s the whole idea so that the design process will be easier on you and your family. However, to ensure your interior designer has everything they need to design the perfect space for you, your involvement in providing essential information about your needs and vision is critical. 

Site Visits:

At other times, you will need to make your home available so that the designer can take measurements, tradespeople can do the work, and all finishing elements can be delivered and installed. You should thoroughly understand when you must devote time to completing your project.

At Peacock & Dahlia, our clients are the most involved in these critical phases:

  1. Onboarding. We want to know all the details about your lifestyle, design style, and functional needs. This period will allow us to fully understand your style and goals to ensure we design a space you love. Typically, during the onboarding phase, our clients will be present for all Kickoff meetings and may be present for other appointments when their input is needed while a contractor is present.
  2. Design Phase. Set aside time for the Concept Design and Final Design Presentation during the design phase. Often, these will be scheduled in advance to allow peace of mind and planning for all parties involved. Our clients have time in their schedules to attend the design presentation and then provide feedback and any change requests to us within five days of their presentation.


How will we communicate throughout the project? How frequently will I hear from you?

image of desk and office area with laptop and domed light fixture under warm natural light

You don’t want to feel left in the dark at any time during your project: Why isn’t my interior designer calling me? Is anything happening? Are they even working on my project? 

These thoughts can be very anxiety-provoking, and in our experience with our clients, it’s more often that “no news is good news.” But you’ll want to ensure you understand the interior designer’s process and critical milestones. Hence, you aren’t worried if you don’t hear from them during a particular phase. Once you know their process, you’ll fully understand everything they’re doing behind the scenes to keep your project on track.


Another essential thing to be aware of is your preferred communication style and your designer’s. If you prefer phone calls but email is how your interior designer and their team communicate best, you may need to adjust your expectations OR find a designer who is readily available via phone.

You’ll also want to know who you’ll be in contact with throughout your project. Is the interior designer the main person you’ll contact if you have questions? Or is there a designated support person at their office who will handle most communication so everything gets noticed?


At Peacock & Dahlia, we pride ourselves on our proactive communication. By providing weekly email updates, a designated client concierge to answer all your questions, contractor collaboration and online access to your project portal, and scheduled milestone design meetings, our clients always know what to expect. We can minimize surprises and delays.


Is there anything else I’ll need to pay for throughout the process?


Hopefully, the interior designer’s fees are well understood right from the start. But you don’t want any surprises down the road. Make sure you have a full understanding of all costs associated with your project.

Will there be shipping and delivery charges? What are the fees for holding furniture items before installation day? Is there a reselection fee if you change your mind at the eleventh hour? Don’t be shy about asking these questions! 

At Peacock & Dahlia, we believe in transparency and have established project minimums for design fees and investments in furnishing or construction projects. If you’re interested in working together, once you submit a Project Inquiry Form, we’ll share in-depth information about our services and pricing so you know what to expect. Our fees are custom-quoted based on each project and the needs of our clients.

Like this one? Check out our other post talking about the benefits of working with a designer here.

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©Peacock & Dahlia 2024 | design by tonic + Sophia STudio | photos by Sophia Studio + Elevae


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