Homeowners spend months trying to design their perfect kitchen or bathroom only to come up empty handed and overwhelmed.
They've spent hours sifting through Houzz, Pintrest and Google collecting inspirational ideas and clever tips. They start talking to contractors only to be told, "tell me what you want and where you want it". Often they have no idea where to start, and sometimes they download free "home design" apps that are slow and not as helpful in giving a realistic picture of their new space. Many walk into kitchen and bath fixture and cabinet showrooms or big-box stores, and come away disappointed by the experience of "being sold" because, naturally, they only design with the products they sell and their limited choices in design style. Sometimes it feels as though the sales oriented designer isn't even interested in good design, only increasing the dollar spent or they are not experienced enough to notice the important details.
Finding a "designer" is the easy part.
You can search on Houzz, Google, Yelp, NKBA (National Kitchen and Bath Association), NARI (National association of the Remodeling Industry), IIDA (International Interior Design Association), ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) and other directories, but how do you narrow down the choices to find the right interior designer who doesn't act like a sales person? Ask questions and start with the basics.
- Have they worked in your area?
- Do you like some of the homes in their portfolio?
- What is their rating on Houzz, Yelp, Google+ etc?
- What do other professionals have to say about them, would they recommend them?
- Were you referred by a friend, did you like what you saw and heard as they remodeled their home?
- What about their website, does their process sound like what you would expect and enjoy?
When you do decide to meet with a kitchen and bath designer for the first time, think about how you feel in their presence.
- Is it easy to be relaxed in the conversation?
- Are you doing most of the talking, are they listening and taking notes?
- Or are they giving you "free" design and treating your project like a cookie cutter?
- Do they offer a small design agreement so that you can "test drive" their ideas?
- Do you feel that you can trust them?
- Will they introduce you to general contractors and other professionals that they would trust to be in their own home?
- Do they provide more than line drawings and show you what your remodel could really look like?
- How do they speak of their competition? Do they bash them or are they cordial and appreciate other professionals, hint, this is a good indication of how they feel about their clients too
Ultimately, what is the deciding factor for you?
Do you look at the three-legged stool of remodeling and decide that the cheapest option is the best for you? Maybe a designer in a showroom working on commission might be the right fit after all. If speed or quality is your focus, an independent interior designer or a design-build company might be your best option. Whichever route you choose, trust is the essential ingredient. If for any reason you don't feel right or have a strange feeling about them you can politely end the conversation and let them know that it's simply not a good fit, thank them for their time and be on your way.