April 7, 2013

Help wanted: Finding the right interior designer

Cost and style are both important elements, and good communication is key.

By MELISSA RAYWORTH / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

SHARING CONTROL

Do "get yourself to a certain comfort level, because you have to take the leap of faith," Davin says. "A lot of people's fear is that they're going to end up with this crazy living room that doesn't feel like them at all."

But if you've taken time to choose someone who shares your taste and understands what you want, then "allow them to stretch you and push you" at least a little, she says.

Discuss timing. Design projects can move slowly. Davin says redecorating a master bedroom or family room can take at least three months. Design and decorating work for a home that's not yet built might take 18 months or more.

The wait can be frustrating, but also useful: Your vision for the project may evolve as you work with a designer, so you might be glad to have some extra time to make choices.

Schedule a big project for a time when you can give it your full attention, ASID suggests.

STAYING FLEXIBILE

When choosing a designer, be sure to ask previous clients how the person handled changes or challenges.

"It's impossible to install a job of any size without something going wrong," Howard says. "Something's going to break. Something's going to be measured wrong.… Things happen and things get fixed."

Try not to make too many changes, since that can increase the possibility of confusion and mistakes.

If a problem arises, it's best to cool down before approaching the designer. And at the end of the project, Howard advises clients to leave home during the final installation work.

"The installation is the moment that the decorator worked for months and months and months on," she says. "They need to have their space to kind of make a mess and get things done."

So rather than critiquing the project when it's only partially installed, she says, wait for the "red carpet moment" when the finished product is revealed.

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