How to Work with an Interior Designer

When considering how to work with an interior designer, there are surely endless questions rattling around in your head. Will they understand my style? Will they work within my budget? What if I don’t like what they choose for my home?

There are few things more personal than your home, and at the end of the day, we all want to return to a place that is a perfect reflection of who we are and our lifestyle. Some of our clients have previous experience working with an interior designer, and some come to us as complete novices, so we’re familiar with the common concerns that come with hiring a designer.

We’re sharing the below guide to help set you up for success! Read on for how to choose the right designer, what questions to ask, what you should expect to receive, and much more.

How to Work with and Interior Designer - Marie Flanigan Interiors

How to Work with an Interior Designer

With many interior design vendors now selling directly to the public, you may be wondering, what’s the point in hiring a designer in the first place? There’s no doubt you have amazing style and impeccable taste all on your own, but an interior designer can help define how your home can best serve and reflect you. An interior designer will take your entire home into account to be sure a cohesive flow is achieved.

Hiring a designer will also allow you to avoid costly mistakes, such as wrong paint colors, cheaply-made furnishings, and finishes that don’t stand the test of time. Professional designers have a deep understanding of scale, color story, and visual rest, that isn’t innate to many. They can help identify areas where you can save, and what is worth the splurge. Designers also receive discounts on furnishings, which are then passed down to their clients. So, while, as a client, you may pay for a designer’s time and furniture mark up, you will typically spend the same amount of money as if you bought the piece straight from the retailer, but you receive the added benefit of expert advice.

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Date the Designer

Searching for the right interior designer is a lot like dating. You want to get to know them on a personal and professional level to be sure they can deliver the look and overall service you require. Start by looking at designers’ Instagram profiles, websites, and portfolios to get a feel for their individual style. Once you find one or two you love, set up meetings to discuss your project. Most designers do not charge for this initial consultation. It’s likely you’ll quickly know whether the designer is someone you can see yourself working with long term. If you’re not jiving, keep looking! We believe there is a designer for every personality, aesthetic, and price point.

How to Work with and Interior Designer - Marie Flanigan Interiors

Ask Questions

In your introductory design meeting, there are several important questions you must ask. First, inquire about pricing. Most designers charge an hourly rate for design services, which generally runs in the range of $50 to $300 per hour. Ask them to ballpark how many hours of design time they feel your particular project will take.

It is common practice for designers to charge a mark up on items they order for your home. What is their mark up? Additionally, find out how the designer generally runs his or her projects. If the scope of the project is small, will they expect you to order items and help manage workers on site? For larger projects, we recommend working with a designer who will act as your liaison at every turn.

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Communicate Expectations

We find that the key to making the designer-client relationship a success is by providing as much information up front as possible. Clearly communicate your expectations to your designer. Are there pieces you already own that you would like them to incorporate into the design? Do you HATE the color blue? What is your maximum budget for the project? Do your homework and share images of rooms and items you love for the designer to use as inspiration. Share details about your family and lifestyle. On the flip side, your designer should be clear on how and when you will be be billed, what each step of the process will look like, and how long they estimate the overall project will take.

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Designer Deliverables

Every designer works differently, but there are a few common things you should expect to receive as your project progresses. First, your designer will present concepts to detail their inspiration, an overall plan for each room, and to illustrate how finishes will ultimately compliment one another. Samples of both hard and soft finishes, including fabrics, countertop slabs, and flooring, should all be reviewed together in the space where they will ultimately live. Your designer may also create technical drawings of the design to share with the project architect and/or builder, and occasionally, detailed 3D renderings.

How to Work with and Interior Designer - Marie Flanigan Interiors

How to Work with an Interior Designer

As your designer begins to execute your project, remember that honesty is the best policy. If there’s something you don’t like, speak up as soon as possible! The faster any issues are addressed, the faster they can be reconciled. Consistent feedback is important to your designer. They want you to be happy with the final product just as much as you do!

Marie Flanigan Interiors

Have more questions about how to work with an interior designer? Drop us a note below!

  1. suzanna says:

    This shall be fun

  2. Mana Nazeri says:

    I really like your style but I realize you are in Texas. Do you recommend anyone in San Francisco East Bay area? Thank you.

    • marie says:

      Thank you! We actually work with clients all over the country, but we are based in Houston. I don’t have any recommendations in San Francisco, but if you would like more information about our client services, please email

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