We all know what interior designers do: they think up home designs, lay the groundwork for a renovation, and ensure that everything proceeds smoothly.
While that may be the case, not every designer can pull off these tasks with minimal fuss – which is exactly why you should always find out more about a potential hire before signing on the dotted line.
Here are 6 important screening questions that will help you select an interior designer that’s right for you, and why they matter to both you and your future home.
1. "Can I see your portfolio?"
There’s a reason why this question is at the top of the list: the best way to gauge the capabilities of a designer is through his/her portfolio. Think of it as a visual representation of his/her creativity, professionalism, and ability to create liveable spaces.
What’s more, by looking at past projects, you’ll be able to tell how a designer has grown through the years – whether he/she is stuck in the past or keeping up with the latest trends.
In some cases, it may even be possible for you to get a 'live experience' at a home that your designer previously worked on. If the opportunity for a visit arises, be sure to grab it as they don't come along often.
2. "Do you have a signature design style?"
Don’t confuse the two: having a well-defined style doesn’t mean a designer’s work is going to be boring or unimaginative.
It’s entirely possible for him/her to have a distinctive ‘look’ across multiple projects, yet still be able to bring something new to the table, whether it’s a unique decorative accent or a practical fixture.
In any case, asking about your designer’s preferred design style is something that you should always do because it provides a solid basis of what to expect for your own home.
3. "How long will this project take?"
While it’s possible for delays to occur due to unforeseen circumstances (think material shortages or issues with older units), renovating an HDB flat or condo in Singapore takes about 8 to 12 weeks*, which means you won’t be needing a year-long plan.
And neither do the people you’ll be working with – any interior designer who is worth his/her salt should be capable of providing a realistic timeline of works, regardless of the (figurative) spanner that has been thrown into the works.
*As at time of writing
4. "What is the scope of the renovation?"
Timeline aside, another key aspect of renovation that should be addressed with absolute clarity is the scope of work. Putting this matter on the table early has the benefit of ensuring that you, your designer, and any concerned parties are on the same page about the tasks that should be completed by the end of the renovation.
Relating to the very first question on this list, it’s also useful to request for a look at portfolio projects with similar requirements. A picture is worth a thousand words (and more) if it proves that your designer is capable of meeting your expectations.
5. "What is your working style like?"
As with any working relationship, mutual understanding is the key to success. And for that, it may be useful to ask your designer AND yourself these (related) questions to know each other better:
- Are you a visual person or a good listener?
- Do you take the initiative in a discussion?
- What is your approach to handling conflicts?
Knowing the answers will matter in the foreseeable future, since both of you will be working closely to achieve a successful renovation.
6. "Will my budget be enough?"
Let’s face it, money matters, and that’s because of the expectations that come with it. Everyone (read: both your designer and yourself) has an idea of what can and cannot be achieved with a given budget, which makes discussing the finances absolutely essential.
Having said that, the best designers are also the ones who are keen to know what you want and will do their best to bring your dream home to life, even if it means working within (reasonable) budget constraints. So be sure to find a renovation partner like that!
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This article was originally published on 21 May 2018 and last updated 22 March 2023.