into a new house is like stepping onto a blank canvas. With so many
possibilities, where do you start? Luckily, you can find a partner in an
interior designer with experience transforming client wishes into
While selecting a
designer can be daunting, as with most endeavors, you can make the task
smoother with a little preparation. Before approaching a designer,
consider what you want and what your priorities for a project are. Then
visit design showrooms, review designersí portfolios and ask people
you know if they can recommend a designer.
specifics, we reached out to a few local designers ó Emily Ebben of
Warren Barnett Interiors in Brookfield; John Edbauer, ASID, and Jessica
Forston of Fringe Interior Design in Whitefish Bay; and Deb Zunker of
Boston Storeís Brookfield-based furniture gallery. Below, each
professional offers advice regarding what to ask a potential
collaborator, what an interior designer may ask you, and how to
ultimately choose one that will work well with you.
needs are is very important," Ebben says. "How you live will
help drive the design. Some homes are a (look and donít touch) museum,
and others are made for everyday activity. The more that they can tell
us about themselves, their family and the home, the better."
question a client must be able to answer, Zunker says, is "What is
the budget?" "Thatís important, because we are both spinning
our wheels if (the client) wants a modest cost and we are showing them
high-end only," she explains. "The process can be
intimidating, but really, no job is too big or too small."
will this take?" is a natural client question, say Edbauer and
Ebben. After all, if a makeover is needed to meet the demands of an
upcoming occasion ó a housewarming or holiday, for example ó the
anticipated delivery date of a finished project is
talking styles, be prepared to show your personal style with examples.
What you call "art deco" may be "contemporary" to a
designer, so share photos or point out products that you like and that
reflect the look you want.
collaborate first in a store or in your home? There are advantages to
both, but brainstorming in both places is advisable.
"Being in the
home first to explore (is helpful)," Edbauer says. "I can
better understand what a client wants to do when I see the environment.
Then, when we are here in the store, we can choose different directions
more easily." This includes homes under construction too.
On the other hand,
for Forston, a store visit often begins the process. "Sometimes
they feel more at ease," she says. "A lot of people have a lot
of confidence in what they want because they have been on Pinterest and
Houzz. However, you also find that people donít quite remember their
house exactly, so when we come out, it comes together."
Ebben and Zunker
say their respective showrooms spark ideas a client may not have
something will catch their eye, and that starts a whole new
conversation," Zunker says.
A few key
characteristics are important in selecting an interior designer, these
Zunker says to
look for a designer who is a good listener. Ebben agrees, adding that
understanding the need is part of making a positive connection.
and a sense of humor," says Edbauer. "You canít talk down to
a customer. You can cut to the chase and make it a fun as well as
worthwhile experience. Iím the one with a thousand questions, so itís
important to anticipate that and think through how to respond. Thatís
what makes a project work." m