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How To: Choose the right interior designer

Working with an interior designer is a great way to achieve just the right look for your home. As professional house painters we often work with interior designers, and this great article from Houzz outlines some key things to think about when choosing one – including budget, the scope of the project and personal compatibility. Wall Treats reached out to some leading interior designers for some gems on how to choose the right designer for your house painting project.


Fiona Wilson
Fibonacci Interior Design

Find the best person for the job

Most of us ask friends or colleagues to recommend a good plumber or hairdresser, so having a personal reference from someone whose opinion you value is a great place to start.

It’s important to follow-up with your own research by checking out the designer’s website and social media platforms. Seeing recent examples of their work will give you a sense of their style and the scope of the projects they work on.

Another good source of personal recommendation is from a design or decorating industry trade that has previously worked with the designer. If your own due diligence stacks up with what you’ve heard on the grapevine then it’s time to make contact.

Interview the prospective designer

There’s understandable trepidation at the prospect of leaping into a relationship with someone you’ve never met! Outline what you want to achieve, the time frame and most importantly the budget.

Ask questions about the design fee structure and likely costs for the project. The bespoke nature of residential interior design means that you’re more likely to be charged an hourly rate, so make sure you understand how and when you’re going to be billed. 

You need to feel comfortable working with your designer so clear communication, mutual respect and trust are essential to any successful relationship.

Communicate the brief - a picture paints a thousand words

Once you’ve decided to engage the designer then it’s essential to succinctly communicate what you hope to achieve. I encourage my clients to compile a folder of images sourced from interior or architecture publications and/or create a shared board for ideas on Pinterest. From there I can create a design concept that meets my clients’ aesthetic expectation within the desired budget.

Try to add value to the project by thinking beyond your own tenure in the house or apartment. A good designer will suggest options that will enhance the market value of your property in the future.

The best designers are creative, communicative, pragmatic and practical – the right interior designer will bring all these qualities to your table.


Celia Visser
Celia Visser Design

View the designer's portfolio for the quality and style of their work. Does it excite you?

You need to be confident that the designer will exceed your expectations, and that you have a rapport with them as you will be working closely together.

Choose a designer with appropriate qualifications, and experience in the area of design you intend to engage them. In the industry, there are individuals who call themselves a “designer” who are in fact decorators. Choose wisely.

Select a designer who is affiliated with accredited associations, such as NKBA and DINZ. It’s important your designer has project co-ordination skills; otherwise the designs may not be executed accurately.

Bonus tips:

•             Remember the portfolio photos reflect other peoples’ tastes not the designer's (and probably not your own)

•             Ask about projects the designer has worked on – where, how big and how much

•             Ask how your budget will be handled and the kind of payment schedules the designer requires

•             Ask about the extent of service, i.e. does the designer offer full project co-ordination

•             Ask for a list of references and call them


Kim Munro
Munro Design

Great design will not only give you the look you want, but often pays for itself in the added appeal of the property if and when it comes time to sell. Interior designers help bring your aesthetic vision to life while taking care of the more functional aspects such as space planning. 

Along with the design budget and scope of work, you need to communicate a clear brief of your vision to the designer.  And this involves a bit of homework.  When I began in the design industry 20-odd years ago, this meant literally collecting paint charts, fabric samples and a folder brimming with magazine pics.  Now online research is the go-to for the style ideabook.  Although at times overwhelming, the process is essential for focusing ideas – don’t try to analyse your style, just go with the images you love.  It really doesn’t matter if you collect enough material to design an entire neighbourhood, it’s all part of the process.  You can rely on a good designer to pare it back to a workable plan.


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