What You Should Know Before Hiring a Designer

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Happy Spring! As the weather begins to warm up many of us start to feel that urge to freshen things up, and we begin planning and preparing for home renovations or redecorating projects. For those who are considering hiring a designer, there are a few things to consider and perhaps you have some questions about how to choose a designer, how much it will cost, and what the benefits are. 

We think this is a great time to share a Q&A to answer some of the big questions for you here. We’ve paired our article with some of our current favourite work by designers we love for inspiration to fuel your projects!

Laurel Liess @laurenliess

What are the benefits of hiring a professional designer?

Last year on the blog we wrote this article highlighting a few of the reasons to hire a designer for kitchen renovations. Overall, hiring a designer for any renovation is a great way to get good value for your money and time, ensure a high quality job, and remove a lot of the burden of planning and managing a project.


Laurel Liess @laurenliess

Will I get better prices for tradespeople and decor items?

Yes, designers sometimes get better pricing from our tradespeople and vendors, but we also get a much better level of service. An experienced designer has long-standing relationships with the people and businesses in the industry and that goes a long way! We also only work with people we trust to do a great job, so you know you’re in great hands and you can avoid the process of finding quality contractors, and losing time and money if you hire the wrong people.


Laurel Liess @laurenliess

What are some common expectations clients have that aren’t realistic, and how can the designer help set them up for success?

We are careful about setting up client’s expectations right from the beginning. We’d never want to create a situation where a client is caught off guard or disappointed. We’re always upfront with our clients about whether or not what they are asking for is realistic in terms of time and budget.

Oftentimes renovations cost more than what is expected and take more time. It depends on the project, but consider the time it takes to plan, schedule trades, and source just the right items at the right price. The best news is that you’ve hired a team of people who are dedicated to coming up with solutions that work with your budget and time. We’ve completed many projects that mix high and low end items, or broken down a large whole-home project up over a few years to fit the budget. We can be flexible!


Andrew Howard @andrewjhow

What information, questions or planning should be considered before meeting with a designer?

Look at the big picture, jot down all of the components of the project that you can think of and what your vision is for the final result. Think about how much you want to spend on the project and write that down too. Be up front about these things with your designer when you meet with them.


Andrew Howard @andrewjhow

How do I choose the right designer?

Do your research, look at their website, their Facebook and Instagram, ask trusted friends and neighbours for referrals. It’s important that the look and feel of the designer’s portfolio fits in with the aesthetic that you love. Every designer works a bit differently, and many are capable of creating different styles, but usually they excel or are known for a particular style. When you narrow it down and have the chance to meet a few designers, you want to feel comfortable with them and that you are listened to! Having someone design your home is an intimate experience and it can be wonderful if the designer is right for you.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

Before a project is underway, how do we make sure we’re on the same page in terms of budget, timeline and aesthetic?

The designer will likely set up a meeting with you to go over all of the details and budget before getting things started. At Henhouse we compile a complete design concept including mood boards, source lists, layouts and cost breakdowns. You should have a clear idea of what the expected outcomes are, the process, and the cost. It’s in everyone’s best interest that we are on the right path.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

What if I change my mind or want to go in a different direction with the design? When is it too late?

It’s much easier to change things earlier on. That being said, last minute changes do happen. Nothing is permanent, but big changes to the design late in the game will cost a lot of time and money. These kinds of situations can be mitigated – the designer should give you opportunities to voice your thoughts, and be considerate and respectful of them. As a client, never be afraid to speak up at any time during the process, and if you have a concern address it right away.


William Rankin McLure @william_mclure

What roles and responsibilities will the designer take on?

This depends on the designer and on the client’s needs. At Henhouse, the minimum we provide is a full design concept, including sourcing decor items, layouts, costs etc. This alone can be a big project, and sometimes eager homeowners are willing to tackle the rest on their own. Most times we get hired on to complete the renovation from a to z including creating a design concept, scheduling and managing trades, purchasing materials, finishes, furnishings, fabrics, hardware, and accessories, and tracking the budget.


How does an interior designer bill for their services? What is the best way to know you’re getting a good deal? 

Don’t go into a relationship with a designer looking for a deal on their services! Hiring a designer is an investment. Like we mentioned, there is value in a job done correctly and efficiently, and having access to a designer’s resources and knowledge. We are very used to working within a budget and we know where to save and where to spend and what will give you the most value and impact for your money. In terms of billing, that will vary – have a conversation with your designer early on.


What rooms or pieces are worth investing in? Are there certain things you would never cut corners on? 

Rooms that are hard working or highly used are good places to invest in. The kitchen comes to mind as it is often the heart of the home, where families spend a lot of time. A great kitchen also adds value to the home, so you’ll likely see a return on your investment.

For items that are worth investing in, usually it’s things that get more wear but it also depends on the homeowners and their lifestyle. For example, if you love having your family and friends over for meals you might get a lot of use and enjoyment out of a beautiful, high quality dining set. It comes back to how much value you’ll get out of the items.


We hope our Q&A has helped to clear up some of the common questions about working with a designer. If you have more questions or are interested in working with Henhouse on an upcoming project please get in touch!