How to Find a Good Interior Designer

February 7, 2021 | Sundae Research Team

Whether you’re renovating a home, kitting out a short-term rental, or redoing your own digs, a good interior designer can make all the difference.

If you’re in the house flipping game, or buy, sell, or manage property, you need to understand a bit about interior design. More importantly, you’ll want to know how to find a good interior designer. An interior designer can help you plan, manage, and execute successful property updates and renovations. This adds to the attractiveness of a property and impacts your bottom line.

What does an interior designer do?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines an interior designer as someone who makes “indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items.” In other words, interior designers help to make a house work for their client as a home, both in terms of layout and decor. 

Interior designers tend to be associated with decorating in a certain style—minimalist vs. mid-century modern, for instance. But they often influence the design, details, and layout of a room at the construction stage. License requirements vary. Many states use the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, which requires a bachelor’s degree and two years of professional experience.

Note: An interior designer and an interior decorator are different. Both can have a hand in picking the decor and furniture layout of a room. An interior designer has schooling and professional experience in working with structural and spatial planning and is usually licensed. 

When should you hire an interior designer?

Interior designers are often thought of as adding finishing touches, helping to source the perfect lamp for a space, for instance. And that can be part of an interior designer’s job. But the best time to bring an interior designer into a project is before it starts. Having an interior designer give early input into design plans can make sure you’re getting a space that’s functional and marketable. That’s whether you’re remodeling, updating, or building from scratch. 

An interior designer might help you ensure that a room is the right shape for furniture, that electrical outlets are placed to accommodate a modern lifestyle, that a closet addresses current needs, or that a home’s flow is appealing. In the case of an investment property, an interior designer will know how to create a space that is attractive to a majority of renters or purchasers. An interior designer can also help you avoid costly renovations, by guiding you to affordable alternatives to renovating.

How to find a good interior designer?

Search online. Some sites offer searchable databases of interior designers by zip code, along with reviews. Look at sites including

There are online-only services that will help draw up plans and suggest furnishings. They won’t ever physically visit your space, instead using photos or videos. They tend to be cheaper, but you’ll have to do more of the work yourself. Look at sites including

 

Ask friends and industry contacts for recommendations.

As always, if you have a strong network, use it. Check in with friends, neighbors, your builder or renovating team, or people in real estate to see who they’ve used and would recommend—and find out why.

Check credentials and references

Don’t take someone else’s word for it. Do your due diligence: Check credentials and call those references. Do a quick check at the Better Business Bureau, too.

Confirm the designer will work with your budget

You’ll want to bring up your budget early in your conversation with an interior designer. Prices for interior designers can vary wildly—some price by the square foot, others by the hour or project. The more experienced and big name your interior designer, the more they’ll likely cost. HomeAdvisor estimates an interior designer’s cost as anywhere between $50 and $200 an hour, with an average project cost of $6,000. Check to see if your designer is open to helping you get the look you want for less money.

Do your styles align? 

Most interior designers should be comfortable working across styles. But, a specific designer probably has their favorites. If you want your space to lean minimalist, you might not want to hire a designer that only has shabby chic examples on their website. Most designers have ways of eliciting what style you’d prefer for their design services, but you can always take an online design quiz to jump-start the process.

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