Would you do this? re: Interior Designers

fillagirlMarch 18, 2013

Hello, I am re-doing my LR & DR and had an initial consult with an ID to get some ideas & feel her out. The consult was 2 hours and cost $250. She has done a few more hours of work but I never actually said I was committed to work with her.

I went to the carpet store to look at carpet samples and ran into another ID that my friend used and really liked. Now I am thinking that perhaps I should have her come out and give a consult as well.

I am not doing major renovations, I am merely looking at replacing flooring, choosing new sofa & chair, choosing new dining room suite, draperies and paint colour, as well as accessories. I kind of know what I like & the feeling I'm after (classic, elegant, calm, quiet) and have torn pictures out of HD magazines to guide the ID.

I am thinking that consulting the other ID will give me more ideas OR make me more indecisive if she steers me a different direction. And I am a bit indecisive to begin with.....

Have you ever had this experience? What would you do if this was you? Thanks for weighing in....

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It would depend on how easily you spend money. If it wouldn't hurt your budget then, sure do it. You may get better results.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:58PM
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"I never actually said I was committed to work with her."

Then why has she done more work? I'm thinking your self-admitted indeciveness has led to a communication issue here and the first ID thinks that you want her to do more work for you.

In no case engage the services of another ID until you clear up that issue. And even then, I'm not sure that adding more choices to the mix will be helpful to you. It's probably worth the consult minimum, but be very careful to guard against your tendancies to become overwhelmed by choices.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:08PM
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I would not, unless you clear up the situation as to whether you are working or not with the first interior designer. I don't know what you mean by "not committed", does this mean you have no contract and she it just helping you on a per hour basis?

Also unless you are unhappy with the first interior designer, I don't know what there is to gain by bringing someone else in other than confusion.

This is going to sound snarky but interior designers are one of the few professions that get treated like this. People do not generally actively work with multiple lawyers, doctors, plumbers or contractors on the same project, whatever it is, and they don't send their kids to two different schools at the same time. You may get separate consultations or multiple opinions, but you pick one and the other relationships stop at that point.

I know it's "only decorating" but if it is important enough for you to hire someone to do it for you instead of doing it all yourself, it is important for you to treat the person you are hiring as a professional, not just some random person who throws out an idea for you now and then.

This comes from someone who is both an interior designer and a doctor, although I work in the profession as a doctor primarily. I welcome patients to get other opinions and choose someone else for a particular procedure, but once they are working with someone else on that procedure I stay out of it and expect the same in return.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:28PM
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It sounds as if you aren't completely sure or sold on the first ID. I think it sounds like a good idea to consult with another, if you like their work, to get a feel for differences between ID's and whether you click with one more than the other. Make sure you understand how they will be working with you before beginning.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:28PM
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Hi, just to clear things up, I will certainly pay for the work the first ID has done to date, and will certainly let her know if in fact I get a consult from the other ID. I did not sign a contract, she works on an hourly basis. She quoted me a total of 20 hours for the job, but again, I did not sign a contract and would feel OK at this point if I switched IDs.

My concern is that a) her tastes run more modern than mine and b) she has done many homes in the city and may have a familiar "look". And I am thinking another consult may have me consider things I had not thought about.

I hear you about treating IDs as professionals. But there are many folks who do get a second opinion and this would be a similar situation re: one consult with another ID.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:50PM
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fillagirl: If you were feeling "it" with your current ID you wouldn't be tempted to contact another ID. You don't have a contract, your ID hasn't given you confidence in the outcome, and you are going to pay your ID for the work she has done. I really honestly don't see any issue with leaving.

Let us know how it turns out.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 4:57PM
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I interviewed 4 Interior Designers. The initial interview wasn't used for design ideas/directions. It was to show the scope of my projects, see the ID's portfolio, get an idea of personality, etc. They then sent me their contracts and estimate of cost/hours for my projects.

These interviews were free and lasted about an hour plus each.

This post was edited by chispa on Mon, Mar 18, 13 at 17:55

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 5:53PM
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Just an aside that this sort of thing does happen to lawyers all the time. Dh is a lawyer with a very large law firm. He is in fact often working with other law firms for the same client on the same project. Either one of the firms has been hired and the other fired and they are working on the hand off. Or his firm (very pricey) has been hired to do the actual courtroom work while another (less expensive) firm has been hired to do the discovery work. Or sometimes one firm is the long standing counsel, but his firm has been hired for a particular high profile or high dollar amount case and the usual counsel is still expected to provide background and support of various kinds.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 6:32PM
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Sure, but they are working in cooperation with each other. It's like having a generalist and a specialist. Sometimes interior designers and kitchen designers are almost pitted against each other unwittingly. Not in this case, as it was further explained.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:13PM
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Sometimes it's a division of labor by specialty, but not usually. Dh's firm can and would gladly do the discovery work and the other less expensive firm could and would gladly do the trial work. The client just doesn't want to pay for the expensive firm to do the grunt work, but they do want the big name partners to do the in-court appearances.

And sometimes Dh's firm has actually been fired (sometimes after losing a motion, but sometimes because key personnel at the client has changed and they want to work with their buddies) and the firm still has to work on the hand off.

And sometimes his firm has been hired at the last minute for trial after another, less expensive firm has worked a case for years because his firm is preceived as "better" at trial work. They do exactly the same kinds of work, just at different prices and have different reputations. The original firm is generally still working the case in some capacity and has to swallow it because business is business.

It's not just interior designers who get dropped and dissed. Lawyers are probably a lot better at making sure they get paid for their work in these circumstances though.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Yes, the client from hades is the one who calls ten designers, asks them to come bid on a job, which is usually not paid work but marketing, pumps them all for information, swipes all their ideas, and hires nobody.

After you've been in the trade for a while, you learn that when you're on a marketing call, you don't give away ideas. My advice to young designers who want to know what you say about a potential client's house and things is to smile and admire them!

However, you are clearly not that kind of client.

Since you would be paying both designers for their time, you can certainly go ahead with a second opinion, if you think it will be helpful. I always advise people to look beyond styles, and see if a designer's work uses scale, proportion, and color in a pleasing way, even if the specific schemes are not for you.

Have you seen the first designer's book, and have you seen examples that show that she can work to your taste? What about the second one? Do you like what she did for your friend better than what the first one suggested?

A good designer will be able to show you things you wouldn't have known about or thought of, but shouldn't try to steer you away from your own taste. And as the client, you have to be able to say, "Oh, that's very nice, but it just doesn't appeal to me." If you can explain why, you make her job much easier, and she should be able to hit the mark from then on. If have to keep saying it, she's the wrong one for you.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:31PM
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