What to expect from an interior designer

Article by Homes to Love

Ever thought of enlisting the help of an interior designer but felt a little intimidated or confused? Homes to Love NZ sat down with three top interior designers to quiz them on the process and find out what they do, what they cost and why you need them


What does an interior designer do?

An interior designer is there to simplify the process of building or renovating, says Jackie Jones of Jackie Jones Interior Design. “We do this by working within a client’s brief and budget to create and implement schemes to fit the client’s taste and lifestyle.”

Vic Bibby of Bibby + Brady agrees. “An interior designer will remodel a space to make it both functional and attractive, while taking into consideration the client’s wants, needs and budget. They will take an ordinary room and make it extraordinary.”

An interior designer will take an ordinary room

and make it extraordinary

When should I hire one?

The earlier into your project the better, says Jackie. “If your project is large enough to require plans and drawings by an architect or architectural designer, it can be very useful to have an interior designer look these over, to optimise space planning and interior layout, before the building work commences and even before final council consent is sought. With a smaller renovation or redecorating project, early input by an interior designer is also good to help create a cohesive feel in your home or office from the outset.”


Why should I enlist one to help?

There are so many decisions to make during a renovation, it can be exhausting trying to navigate them all. Tomi Williams of Indigo design says she can simplify this process for people. “Many of my clients come to me exhausted by the range of options for the interiors of their home and not knowing where to start. Interior designers can also come up with an idea or scheme for your home that was beyond your expectations,” she says.

Many of my clients come to me

exhausted by the range of options

Vic Bibby: “A lot of our clients have great ideas and know what they want, but they don’t have the means or the skills to pull it all together. Sometimes they simply don’t have time to do the job themselves, or there are so many decision they just don’t know where to start. That’s when you need us! Often it’s a fresh, and experienced set of eyes that can make all the difference.”

Jackie Jones: “It can avoid many costly mistakes and allow the client access to suppliers and pricing that would not otherwise be available to them.”

What will an interior designer ask me before they agree to work with me?

An interior designer will ask how your room/s will be used, who lives there, about your colour and style preferences, budget, location and project timeline.

It’s important to have a clear brief, including what you like and dislike about a room, which furniture is non-negotiable, if there are children, pets or other considerations.

It's important to have a clear brief

including what you like and dislike about a room

Vic Bibby: “It’s really important for us to get a clear brief from our clients so we know that we can produce the best possible result. We will ask what our clients love about the room, and what they hate – this will help us determine their taste. What furniture pieces must stay, and what can go. We need to know who will be using the room, and how they will be using it – do they entertain a lot? This helps with furniture selection and placement. What are their favourite colours, and colours they simply can’t live with. Pinterest is a very important tool for us, if our clients have Pinterest boards we can instantly get a feel for their style. And lastly, two very important questions we will ask is if there are any timing and budget restraints.”

Top tip: A Pinterest board is a great way to show an interior designer your style.


What if after the initial meeting I am not happy with the style or ideas put forward by an interior designer, is it okay to walk away?

Jackie Jones: “You can walk away at any time. You will likely be charged their initial consultation fee however, unless you have negotiated an initial meeting at no cost.”

Tomi Williams: “It is always best to try to work through a scheme put forward by your interior designer before walking away. In some instances they may be trying to make you push the boundaries and this might take some time for you to get your head around. If there are elements of the scheme you would like to change most interior designers should be open to this.”

You can

walk away at any time

What will it cost?

Rates for interior designers vary. Most charge per hour, from $50-500+. Ask at the outset for an hourly rate and what an initial consultation will cost.

How will an interior designer help me stick to a budget?

Vic Bibby says once a budget is decided, it’s her job to stick to it. “It’s easier for us keep emotional decisions in check. If our client absolutely must have the top of the line oven with all the bells and whistles, we can choose a more cost effective tile to help balance it out.”


Where do I find one?

Word of mouth is the best way to find an interior designer. Ask a friend, architect, builder, kitchen installer, or your local paint or furnishings store.

How do I ensure they ‘get’ my style?

A Pinterest board is invaluable. Rip out pictures from magazines. Collect paint and fabric swatches or anything visual that illustrates your style. Keep communication lines open.

How do I push back on designs/ideas I don’t love?

Jackie Jones: “If a designer puts forward design ideas that are not to your taste, don’t be afraid to let them know this.  The home that you create together with their help must be one that you love and their job is to help you achieve this!”

Tomi Wiliams: “You are always the client and at the end of the day the interior designer wants to create a home that you are going to love. The important thing is to make sure you listen to the interior designer’s ideas and realise the vision.”


Is it true that interior designers get better deals on furniture, fabric and hardware?

This is very true. Interior designers have access to furniture, fabric and homeware at discounted rates that can be passed on to the client.

Will working with an interior designer add value to my home in the long run?

The short answer is yes. Vic Bibby says  an interior designer will save you a great deal of time, money and headaches. “They will help you to avoid costly mistakes, and increase the value of your home. A good interior designer will add wow factor to your home which will make all the difference when it comes time to sell.”

Homes to Love interviewed interior designers Vic Bibby, Tomi Willams and Jackie Jones.

Words by: Johanna Thornton.

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