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Hiring an Interior Designer: Brief & Budget Best Practices

[fa icon="calendar"] Sep 1, 2015 10:59:00 AM / by Deborah McMullin


Best Practices for Working Out an Interior Design Brief & Setting Your Interior Design Budget

It can be exciting but daunting to approach an interior designer for help in redesigning your home. You are ready for change and have an idea of what you want, but worry that your taste and personality will be smothered by a designer impressing their own style in your home.  You fear that somehow you will be convinced to put on an extension or redesign the entire interior of your house when all you wanted to do was modernise your bathroom.

All of us are familiar with the cliché of the bullying designer cajoling the unwilling clients into increasing their interior design budget to pay for a design plan they didn’t actually want. When a client’s expectations are not met or budgets run out of control the fault can usually be attributed to a lack of communication. I believe open and honest communication is vital to the success of any interior design project.

Therefore, regardless of the scale of a project three key items need to be identified at the outset; the interior design brief, budget and agreed project, fee.

Interior Design Brief

A brief in simple terms is the set of requirements given to the designer. You will have functional requirements; create a home office, new kitchen layout, more daylight etc. Make a note of the spaces that do and don’t work in your home and create a wish list of improvements.

You will also have aesthetic requirements i.e. the ‘look and feel’ of your home. It can be very difficult to describe or even identify your personal style, so I recommend creating some interiors boards on Pinterest or even pulling pages from interior design magazines. Be sure to include images of interiors that you do not like so the designer knows what to avoid. Designers are visual and will usually be able to determine someone’s style based on the images they are shown. The more information you have for your initial interior design consultation the better.

Interior Design Budget

The next step is working out the budget. You may have a finite sum of money set aside or available for your project. There may be a discrepancy between the cost of what you want to achieve and your budget. An interior designer will work with you at the design stage to create the optimum solution in line with your budget. Alternatively if you have no interiors budget in mind, a designer can put together a budget based on your requirements. Therefore it is essential for a designer to know the ‘real’ budget at the beginning of the design process.

When putting together a design solution for a project a designer will always have your budget in mind, therefore critical decisions on layout, materials, finishes etc. will be incorporated into the design. If you decide halfway through the project to increase the budget by 20% or more it requires ‘going back to the drawing board’ which is both costly and time consuming.

Setting & Agreeing the Project Fee 

The fee is usually based on the ‘Scope of Works’. This is an agreement that specifies all the criteria of a contract between a designer and the client.  Either a one off fee is agreed depending on the estimated workload or the fee is based on a percentage of the overall budget. If the interior design budget keeps changing the workload keeps changing which is an uncomfortable situation for both client and designer.

It may seem like a lot of work upfront but really defining the brief and scope of works at the initial stage of the project ensures you will avoid the usual pitfalls along the way, allowing you to be excited and inspired when redesigning your home. 

Considering hiring an Interior Designer to get the best advice for your home decorating project? Learn more about residential Interior Design Services with McMullin Design.  

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Topics: Interior Design

Deborah McMullin

Written by Deborah McMullin