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How to hire an interior decorator

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Skilled interior decorators can add beauty, continuity and function to any space

Skilled interior decorators can add beauty, continuity and function to any space

If you are a home owner or a business owner undertaking a building, renovation or home improvement project, you may be debating whether to hire an interior decorator. In the past, Interior decorators and interior design consultants have suffered a bad rap, as they have often been perceived as pretentious, or relevant only to wealthy clientele who could afford to decorate with luxurious taste. 

Today however, interior decorators are providing design services to a much broader economic clientele.  

Hiring a skilled interior decorator need not be an exorbitant expense. In fact, working with a decorator can actually save you money on products, can help you to more wisely allocate your decorating budget as well as save you from making costly decorating mistakes. Ultimately, opting to hire an interior decorator can also provide you with a fresh perspective and a wealth of creative ideas regarding a particularly project.

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Before you hire an interior decorator it is wise to familiarize yourself with the project and prepare yourself with a basic vision for the project. For example, if you are installing a new kitchen, cut out photos from home decorating magazines that appeal to you. Take photographs of kitchens you admire. Collect some color swatches, fabrics and paint samples that you feel compliment your decor ideas. You may even wish to draw a rough blueprint or sketch of the layout of your ideal kitchen. Finally, decide on a basic budget for your project.


Next, you will need to contact and interview various interior decorators. Often, the very best place to start is with your own friends, colleagues, or neighborhood contacts. Ask your trusted friends for their recommendations on interior decorators. Pay a visit to your favorite local furniture or design stores, as these establishments often work directly with interior decorators, they will likely be able to provide you with names and contact information for local interior decorators.

If you are truly at a loss, or are seeking an interior decorator with a particularly unique set of qualifications, search online, or visit the websites of prominent national or international interior design organizations such as The American Society of Interior Designers, Certified Interior Decorators International, or the Interior Design Directory.

Take the time to interview each interior decorator. Ideally, you want to find a decorator you will be compatible with, someone who will work with you and inspire you, without taking over the project or shifting it to their terms. Be sure to contact references provided by your decorator, and review portfolios and photographs to obtain a good feel for your decorators work ethic, style, attention to detail and level of talent. A reputable interior decorator will always provide photographs or portfolios of interior design projects. Many interior decorators will also posses licensing and proof of insurance.

Discuss a designer’s fees and rates. Fees may vary widely depending upon a particular decorator’s geographic location, level of experience and reputation. While some designers may charge an hourly fee, others will charge a flat fee per project. Some decorators will offer a complimentary initial consultation, while others may charge a standard rate for consulting or travel time.

Never hire an interior decorator to start work on a project without a written contract in place. Clarify the scope of the project, the fees, the cost of materials, the on-site management of the work, the time frame for a project, and the billing schedule.  

Interior decorating entails much, much more than wallpaper or paint color. Interior decorating is about attention to the details and to the fine points that help to create an interior atmosphere, such as blending carpets, existing furniture and wall treatments with new colors, paints, lighting, trim, flooring, drapes in order to maximize the space, function and comfort of a room. Ultimately, working with an interior decorator should be a positive and rewarding experience that adds beauty, continuity and function to a home or business environment. 


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