Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Interior Designer

Just like any relationship, it’s important to find that perfect somebody who will be right for you and your lifestyle. And this particular relationship is an intimate one, after all, you are inviting them into your inner workings of your business or home!

Here are some essential questions to ask before hiring an interior designer…

Are they are a designer or a decorator?

Do you know the difference?

  • Designer – is able to do up construction drawings (including space layouts, etc.) which will be suitable for permit applications and to issue for pricing and construction. They are educated on construction codes, including occupancy guidelines, restrictions and more. A designer will often complete drawings for additional items, such as unique design features like millwork (cabinets and built in units). A designer is also able to choose all finishes including flooring, paint/wall coverings, furniture, art and more. It is not standard practice for designers to physically hang art, do staging or physically decorate the space, although some may offer this as an additional service.

  • Decorator – typically space plans are for furniture layouts, not construction. A decorator can pick finishes such as paint, wallpaper, flooring, cabinet finish, etc. Many decorators will offer the service to physically help with on site set up such as hanging art, staging etc.

Who are their past clients?  Do they have photos of completed projects?

Seeing examples of their completed projects helps you identify the designer’s style, which can help make the design process much smoother.

How will the designs be specific to your business and brand?  

What examples can they give of unique design features they have incorporated for other clients?  How did those features align with that client’s brand? A successful designer should be able to represent their client’s individual sense of style, identity but most importantly align with your brand strategy.


Prices range hugely, so it’s super important to establish this from the beginning so there are no surprises!  What is included? Plans for permits? Plans for pricing? Plans for construction? Site visits? Will they send out for pricing for you?  Elevation drawings of features and millwork? Evacuation plan? Furniture or art selection? Equipment coordination?

Social Media

Do they have a Pinterest or Houzz account or other social media?  Take a look at their accounts. Are they active on these platforms?  Do they seem to be informed of current trends? Do their interests align with yours?


How far in advance are they booking new clients?  How quick is the turnaround of drawings? It’s important to know the time commitment you’re making when you hire a designer.


How long have they been doing design?  What size of projects have they worked on?  Any in your industry?

Do they have samples to show the amount of detail that is included in their drawings?

The numerous pages of drawings, many of which are often just type, are in place to protect you. These details include specifics including how edging of tiling is to be finished, if flooring transitions are required, details on consistency throughout the space, who is responsible for providing fire extinguishers and sooo much more. Those pages of type ensure the details of the project look professional and ensure that you are not charged for extras during the project. Are their drawings very basic or very detailed? Does this align with what you expect?

Will they coordinate engineers if needed?  

Contractors if needed?  Will they complete your permit application?  Are there additional costs for any of this?

Are they willing to work with your suppliers if you have chosen them already?

You may already have relationships built with suppliers you trust, and some designers are more flexible than others. For example, medical clinics or restaurants may need specific types of equipment or furniture. If you haven’t chosen suppliers yet, do they have contacts they can help you with?

Now that you know what to look for, you are ready to get started! It may seem daunting at first, but it is so worth it. Once you find an interior designer you click with, it can be the start of a lifelong friendship!


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