Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

March 31, 2017
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Working with an interior designer for the first time?

Trust us; It's going to be exciting - and really overwhelming at the same time. Especially if you know zilch about interior design processes or lingo, it can be hard to figure out what exactly are you paying for in a renovation.

Still, being a newbie at this does not mean that you are bound for a difficult, terrifying experience! You can still work smart and get the most from your renovation - by asking the right questions. These are 7 things you should ask an interior designer to determine if he/she is the right fit for your needs.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

#1. "What Services Do You Offer?"

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: B&N Design Associates Sdn Bhd

Although this seems like an obvious answer, interior design firms actually vary from one another in terms of the services they offer. Some are one-stop shops that cover a wide range, from architectural tasks, landscaping to building custom furniture; On the other end, there are some design-only firms that will require you to engage a contractor of your own.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Fattahhome Design and Build

You’ll also need to find out if they are willing (and able) to take your project scale. Some firms prefer not to service minor refurbishments while others may not be equipped to manage major revamps.

#2. "What Is NOT Covered In Your Quote?"

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Unfortunately, not all quotations are written in minute detail. Thus, it’s important to probe your designer and bring those hidden costs out of ‘hiding’. Go through the provided quote and find out which fees are merely estimates (likely to change) and which will remain. Typically, consultation fees are flat while materials and furnishing costs will vary, depending on your house.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: B&N Design Associates Sdn Bhd

For estimated quotes, find out from your interior designer what is the potential variation range (whether this cost will increase by 5% or 10%) and do insist that they will have to obtain your permission for any changes in costs. It's also a good time to discuss with your designer solutions to bring down costs or keep to the set budget.

3. "How Should I Go About Payment?"

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Ultimately, you're looking at a large sum for any renovation; Some projects may stay in a price range that you can comfortably pay off but major works may require you to seek a loan. Thus, it’s crucial to understand how your designer expects to be paid.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Designers' Home

Most will request a deposit or commencement fee, which could be anything from 15% to 50%, with the balance paid during the renovation or once the works are done. Others may insist on a staggered payment schedule for the beginning, middle and end of a project. Ask your designer and see if both parties can agree on a payment scheme that they are comfortable with.

4. "What Happens If I Don’t Like The Design Given?"

After an initial consultation, your interior designer will typically produce a mock-up or visual of their ideas for you to review. The visualisations should be based off your specifications and style requests as well as the designers ‘take’ on your space.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Design: Ideas Makeover

Thus, it’s apt to ask your designer about their policy on changes to the design. Most designers understand that changes will occur, but will there be any additional fees incurred for a re-draw?

It's also wise to ask what happens if you decide not to engage them after the initial design drawings. Designers will usually charge a consultation fee, and depending on what your contract with them entails, some may even require forfeiting your deposit.

5. "Can You Work With The Furniture I Already Have?"

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Dot Works

Now, if you are on a tight budget or happen to like your existing furniture and fittings, check with your designer if they can fit your current stuff into the grand design. Usually, this shouldn’t be a problem but if you're taking a completely different aesthetic, you’ll need to let your designer know your preferences in advance.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Oriwise Sdn Bhd

If your designer feels that your furniture will not fit in, ask for similar design options that will work with your existing pieces. On a side note, if you do decide to buy new pieces, ask your designer if they can access merchant discounts or trade-in your old furniture to help keep costs down.

6. "Is There A Warranty Period For Workmanship And Fittings?"

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Pocket Square

It may all look great upon the big reveal, but you won't want to risk wasting money on low-quality fittings that won't even last for months! It’s best to clarify with your designer what they can do if you aren’t satisfied with the quality or level of workmanship in your fittings. Do note that certain features, like bathroom and kitchen fittings, flooring and carpets are likely to have external warranties.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Pocket Square

If custom furniture/carpentry is part of your renovation, then the interior designer (or subcontractor) is responsible for providing a warranty. Ask your design team about the duration and terms of the warranty, and find out what types of damages may not be claimable.

7. "Do You Have A Sample Of Your Work?"

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Nice Style Refurbishment

If you have found your designer through Qanvast, you would most likely have seen their past projects listed on our website. But you can still request to see designs that resemble your vision a little more.

Ask Your Interior Designer These 7 Key Questions

Interior Designer: Nice Style Refurbishment

If your designer can’t provide more samples, it might be a sign that they are just starting out and have little to show. Of course this doesn’t mean that they aren’t good or that they won’t be able to handle your work. In this case, just ask for a reference. It’ll help you gauge their working style and determine if their clients were happy with the overall quality of service.


Looking for a first-rate designer that will answer all your questions ease and help you create a stellar look for your home? Request for for free quotes here, and we’ll match you up 5 interior firms, based on your style and budget.

For more home inspiration, check out the Qanvast app, available on the App Store and Google Play store. Search for interior ideas from over 200 interior firms on the go!

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