Home Work

What to know before hiring a pro to rejuvenate your rooms.
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Art Van - Bedroom
Photography courtesy of Art Van

Kitchens, bedrooms and baths — finding an interior designer can be a daunting task. But it doesn’t have to be.

Word of mouth is one way to find a designer, according to Nadine Hogan, gallery manager for Scott Shuptrine Interiors in Petoskey (artvan.com), who often gets referrals from her clients. “It’s like seeing someone’s hair and asking, ‘Who’s your hairdresser?’” said Hogan, who suggests inquiring in your community.

Interior design isn’t an all-or-nothing process. Many of Hogan’s clients tackle it one room at a time. “It doesn’t have to be a whole house. Someone might need help with window treatments or other elements that finish the room … a person might be working with a builder and feel overwhelmed about all the decisions that need to be made. We can help them pick paint colors and do a presentation board that pulls it all together,” Hogan said.

One design myth is needing to start from scratch, but Hogan says not so. Existing pieces can be combined with new and reupholstered if needed.

Tutto Interiors - Kitchen
Photography courtesy of John Carlson

Finding the Right Fit

But how does a homeowner find the right designer? Susan Todebush, executive vice president and general manager at Michigan Design Center in Troy (michigandesign.com) said the industry has changed. “The good news is most designers have websites or a presence on sites like Houzz (houzz.com), where you can view their designer statement and get an instant visual,” she said.

Be aware though, seeing an example of a designer’s work is not the whole story. There is more to it than, ‘I like this kitchen. I want this kitchen in my house.’

Richard Ross Design - Powder Room
Photography courtesy of Beth Singer

Michigan Design Center offers a free referral service for designers throughout the state. Many featured designers offer a complimentary consultation. Todebush advises first considering your goals. Does the project require the expertise of an aging-in-place expert, an architect or a certified kitchen and bath designer? “The more (thought) you put into it before, the better the result, just like any big purchase,” Todebush said.

Personality fit also is important. If you’re detail-oriented, make sure your designer communicates that way during the interview.  “Otherwise there will be a mismatch,” Todebush said. “The project can last for weeks or months, so see if their communication style suits you and you really connect with the person. If they’re not detailed or they’re not getting back to you, it’s not going to get better.”

Designers have learned to be more transparent, according to Todebush. There was a time when the interior design and decorating process was very mysterious. So, ask how much they charge and what you’re getting for your money.

A trusting relationship is imperative. “Ask yourself, ‘Is this the person I want to spend the next six months with in my home?’” Todebush suggested. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

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