By Tyler Wisler

You’ve finally made up your mind and you are going to do it. You are ready to make the investment and transform your dwelling into a home – a home that is tailored to you and your family!

Great!... But now what? Where do I get an interior designer from, and how do I know if he or she is the one I want to work with? Where do I start?

Referrals are a great fast track to making your decision, because someone you trust has already vetted their designer’s credentials and processes. Wonderful if you do have friends that can make a referral, but if not, it’s a good idea to ask at the stores or showrooms you like. If your aesthetic is drawn to a particular establishment, the staff may be able to pair you with a designer who has a similar vibe.

Online sources are also great – Houzz is probably the most widely known in the region. Also, contacting professional organizations, such as Interior Design Confederation Singapore (IDCS) and the Society of Interior Designers Singapore (SIDS), can help give you options. Then there’s always a good old-fashioned Google search which can provide quality results, as well.

So, now you have someone you love; their online presence feels right and their aesthetic is a Pinterest dream. Great! Now is the time to reach out and set up a meeting. “A meeting?!”, I hear you say. “But Tyler, everything is good and they have exactly what I want?!” You need to meet with this person and talk to them. This is like dating. Swiping right on their profile is only the first step, now it’s time to see if you are compatible.

Fair warning, many designers will charge for this consultation time. This is a standard practice, and just like meeting with a doctor or lawyer, a designer’s time is just as valuable.

Don’t think that anything is off limits during this initial meeting. I am a firm believer that communication is key. This is so easy for me to say, yet it is so difficult to pull information out of some clients and vice versa.

I find that when I have spoken to clients who have had a negative experience using an interior designer in the past, it’s because they didn’t speak up. They didn’t ask questions. You need to feel like this is a person you can vocalize your concerns to when you don’t like something. You never want to feel intimidated because of a big personality.

Keep in mind that the relationship with a designer is one that is quite intimate. You will be discussing your home, your personal space. You will be talking about your family and how things function day-to-day. Money will be a frequent topic. At certain points during the project you might be speaking every day, if not multiple times a day.

Be honest about your budget! When the designer asks what you would like to spend, do not say, “Well, I don’t know…” You might not know the exact figure, but give an honest ballpark amount. If budget is not a concern, or you really just do not know how much a project “should” cost, ask the designer to give you an idea of a realistic budget based on their experience.

Come to the meeting with visuals of your own so you can have a proper conversation about spaces you find appealing and why. Start a Pinterest board so you can have things to reference. Also, something even more important than your likes are your dislikes. Knowing your immediate no-go items for you are will save everyone’s time.

Listen to the designer during your meeting. Are they just “yessing” everything you say? A good designer should offer opinions and insight; after all, that’s essentially what they are being paid to do. They should be asking just as many questions of you, as you are of them. If they don’t engage with you about who you are and how your home functions, red flags should immediately go up in your head.

The relationship with an interior designer can easily be one that lasts from a couple of months to a couple of years, so listen to your gut. You should leave that meeting saying to yourself, “I like this person. I feel like I can speak openly and honestly to them. I feel like they understand me and my expectations.” Then, and only then, are you and your new designer ready to make the magic happen!