7 Tips for Interior Design Consultation Success

After countless hours of thought and conversation, you finally realized that you need outside help for the direction and inspiration on how to design your home. Whether it’s a single room transformation or completely changing the look of the entire house, some thoughtful preparation can help not find the right solutions, but save you money.

In the past 30 years, I’ve seen how small amounts of deliberate planning can lead to big strides to reaching your design goals. Properly planning before your initial consultation will help your construction team meet your needs both functionally and aesthetically by incorporating your thoughts, dreams and preferences into their recommendations. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your design consultation:

1. COLLECT INSPIRATIONAL IMAGES – Compile photos of spaces you admire, including specific details or styles that really catch your eye. These can come from your favorite print magazines or links to online resources. Some great online sources for ideas are found on popular websites such as Houzz or Pinterest. Sharing these images either in print or online with your interior designer can help them to identify what ideas will match your preferences.

Even if you’re not aware of what makes you specifically like an image, save it to show it to your designer. I have seen lots of seemingly random images shared with me by a client, only to reveal a common design thread. These similarities lead to discussion and discovery that provides direction for the project.

2.  PROVIDE A FLOOR PLAN – Whenever possible get a floorplan from your developer, builder, or prior homeowner.  This can save hours of billable measuring and recording time from your designer, ultimately saving you lots of billed hours.

3.  ACQUIRE PAINT SWATCHES – As you go about your daily life, consider what colors inspire and interest you. Ask a friend what color they chose in a room you admire in their house. Go to a paint store and select a few color swatches that look beautiful. Take them home, tape them to the wall and see how they look in the lighting of your home. Share your favorite colors with your designer so they can learn your color preferences.

4.  CREATE A LIST OF QUESTIONS – A purposeful list of concerns and ideas will lead to beneficial conversations between everyone involved in the design process. Multiple opinions and strong design preferences should be represented in your list. Addressing these points early in the interior design process can help reduce the chances of unnecessarily changing directions later and incurring additional charges.

5.  ESTABLISH A BUDGET – Your project budget shouldn’t be a secret. Sharing this figure with your designer will help your designer to choose specific materials that fit your overall costs. A lot of homeowners don’t share the budget because they have never established one or aren’t sure how to do so. Do your best to estimate an approximate budget, or at least discuss it with your designer so they can help you get a grasp on this number.

6.  COMMUNICATE RESTRICTIONS – Please let your designer know up front if there are any restrictions that may impact your design. Time constraints or disability needs are essential factors that should not be underestimated. Some foresight on these needs can help your designer carefully address these needs with the involved contractors.

7.  HAVE PATIENCE – The design and building process can be longer and with more surprises than you may expect. Choosing an interior designer and contractors that have experience with these challenges will help to strategically keep your project on task and accomplish the goals set forth. Even with the best preparation, there may be parts of the process that could test your patience, so be ready to anticipate them and be prepared mentally.  

Following these tips can set you on course to transform your space with purposeful thought and reduced stress. If you are interested in learning more about how an interior designer can make your project a success, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


My clients often suggest that my own home’s interior must be fit for the cover of an interior design magazine.  While I appreciate the compliment and am proud to keep my modest home looking its best, it definitely wouldn’t make a magazine cover.  And that’s okay! My goal is to create a warm, welcoming, comfortable environment.

A home is a series of ever-evolving projects. And there is always something that needs to be taken care of.  In my home, I notice the paint that needs to be touched up, envision the furniture I still want to buy, and have a long list of my dream improvement projects. Some make sense (like new windows) and some don’t (a two-tiered deck with hot tub). Hey, it doesn’t hurt to dream!

Every home is a work in progress.  You’ll always have a wish list of home improvements. Who doesn’t need a wall painted, updated furniture, or a change in their accessories?  The important thing to keep in mind is sanity.  You don’t want to feel stressed or pressured into buying new furniture or getting new carpeting for your entire home.  You don’t want it to break your budget or strain your marriage.  Crafting your unique living space should be a fun adventure, not a nagging list of worries. Don’t let your home improvement projects drive you crazy!

How do you avoid the stress and craziness? Divide your home improvement to-do list into two categories:

1) The SENSIBLE projects that need to be done to make your living space safe, energy efficient, and comfortable.

2) The DREAM projects that would be nice to do someday when you have the time and money to make them happen. 

Things that make sense and improve the value of your home could possibly be getting a new roof, upgrading cabinetry, changing out the old windows for new and improved, or repairing old plumbing or electrical work.  All these would add to the value of your home and make you feel smart and sensible for doing them. And here’s a secret: the fastest way to change the look of the room is to simply repaint. Really! Fifty dollars of paint and some elbow grease can completely transform an entire room.

Then you have your less sensible wish list, but be reasonable!  I will forgo my two-tiered deck with a hot tub and maybe just replace the decking planks on our existing deck in a year or two. This allows me the satisfaction of a project completed (plus no splinters!) and improves the value of my home, but within a smaller budget. I have never been able to go out and buy a whole room of furniture at one time, though I enjoy helping clients do that!  So, I have to be very strategic about exactly what I want, know the size parameters, carry color samples with me, and always keep a sharp eye out for any good deals I can find to meet the description. I have gotten wonderful pieces, with the added satisfaction of staying within my budget. Being patient in finding deals also allows time for my personal taste to confirm my selection instead of just buying the latest trend. Now go out and enjoy the process of taking care of your home!