How to choose an interior designer that knows what they are doing

Anyone can choose to live in a house, but only you can choose to live in a place that you call home. The home is a sense of our identity and personal possessions that signify our character. Everyone deserves to live in an incredible space that reflects their personality and style. So how do you make your home represent you? It may feel impossible when looking at an empty room with endless colours, materials, furniture and so much more! Beautiful spaces that are carefully designed and planned are curated by interior designers. A great designer envisions the layout to reflect your lifestyle, the desired mood and atmosphere to compliment the home’s architectural features.  You may have a clear vision of your home, but an interior designer is about analysing the delicate details to fine tune any errors overlooked in the architectural plans.

It may feel impossible when looking at an empty room with endless colours, materials, furniture and so much more! Beautiful spaces that are carefully designed and planned are curated by interior designers. A great designer envisions the layout to reflect your lifestyle, the desired mood and atmosphere to compliment the home’s architectural features.  You may have a clear vision of your home, but an interior designer is about analysing the delicate details to fine tuning any errors overlooked in the architectural plans.

Finding an interior designer that can interpret your needs, taste and personality is fundamental. So how do you choose an interior designer that knows what they are doing?  We speak with Interior Design Director Katrina Kluzek at Colindale Design about picking the right interior designer to suit your needs.

Katrina Kluzek Interior Design Director

Katrina Kluzek Interior Design Director

What to look for in an interior designer?

A lot of time, money and endless hours can be involved in transforming the home. It is an exciting process but also challenging! Choosing an interior designer that is not only professional but someone you can easily relate to is an important decision you will make. Entering a partnership with an interior designer is like a relationship.  Finding an interior designer that understands your wants, needs, problems and final outcome that you desire. From Katrina Kluzek’s experience as an interior designer believes “being approachable is an absolute necessity. The construction phase of a build and the planning stage before it can be a lengthy process, so the client and designer can potentially have many months working together to ensure the vision of the project is fulfilled. It works better for all parties if the designer is personable and is able to have a free-flowing dialogue with the client.” Being a people person is one of the key skills for an interior designer. Having a designer that guides you through the process can save you a lot of time, stress and money in the long run.

Katrina Kluzek working on client consultation at  Colindale Design     Photography by Claire Cosh ( @clairecollected )

Katrina Kluzek working on client consultation at Colindale Design

Photography by Claire Cosh (@clairecollected)

Is it best to choose a designer that specialises in a certain style or all-rounder?

Looking through an interior designer’s portfolio is the key to seeing the work they have completed, the type of style they specialise in can, therefore, attract a client based on their designs. Finding an interior designer is similar to choosing a Lawyer.  You would not hire a criminal lawyer who dabbles occasionally in family law to represent you.

Greg Natale, an interior designer renowned for his luxe, glamorous combination of Hollywood regency style with geometric patterns and immaculate finishes.  “A client may not choose him for a rustic industrial project but this doesn’t mean he couldn’t do it! Going to a designer based on their skill set, their portfolio and your personal fit with them.” The team at Colindale Design believe in sharing the vision with the consumer. The ability to work on many different projects with an innovative approach to every design that is unique to each client is what they are trained to do.  “We embrace many interior design styles and we have a healthy respect for the client’s taste. An experienced interior designer will be able to bring any style to fruition and an even better designer will recommend you to another person if they feel that they cannot achieve that style.”

Project by  Colindale Design

Project by Colindale Design

Photography by Claire Cosh ( @clairecollected )

Photography by Claire Cosh (@clairecollected)

How do you determine if an interior designer is well educated and experienced?

Most interior designers acquire an Advanced Diploma or University qualification in design, in addition, a member of the Design Institute of Australia (DIA). The DIA is an organisation that represents Australian design and designers both domestically and internationally who have an Advanced Diploma or a Tertiary Degree in design. “DIA offer a ‘Find a Designer’ page on their website for customers to show designers apart of DIA who support design and are privy to up to date practice requirements.” Katrina a member of DIA takes pride in her education in interior design, to further her skills and knowledge, to give her clients the latest interior design trends you have never discovered!

Another great way to see what past clients think of an interior designers work is through customer reviews.  Katrina believes “customer reviews are the most important indicator of a designers worth.” Word of mouth is a powerful tool in obtaining the majority of their client base and above all their work ethic and persona.

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Charging by the hour vs package – what is the best option?

Charging a client by the hour vs a flat fee (package) have many different pros and cons. But most importantly it is primarily dependent on the scope of work. Every design is unique whether it is building a new home, renovating or simply planning a small home makeover will vary.

“Large scale projects will require many hours of consultation, we would definitely suggest a package fee.” Packages are a great way for clients to have an understanding of the probable cost to work within their budget. “If it is a small scope of work like one bathroom tile selection, you may like to do it by the hour. This way you can ask your designer to give you an idea of how many hours it will take.”

It is completely normal for clients to be worried about the expenditure in engaging a designer, therefore having an understanding on their cost upfront is completely reasonable.  Katrina highlights that “it is important to remember it costs the same amount to choose the wrong tile as the right tile so you may as well get it right. A designer can avoid costly mistakes as they know what to look for.”

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How do you as an interior designer at Colindale Design interpret a client’s brief?

“At our initial consultation we ask questions and most importantly we listen to the answers. That is how we can achieve bespoke interior design. We need to have a true understanding of how the client lives currently, how they would like to live in the future and how that parlays into designing and using their space. In addition, if a client has a Pinterest page, Instagram or mood board we love to see it. There is nothing better than a visual to ensure you are talking the same language.”

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What do you suggest to look for in one designer to the next?

“Compatibility is a necessity. This may not be apparent until you have had a few consultations but generally, the client will know from the initial. No good designer would begrudge a client saying the fit is not right. Skilled designers recognise that residential design is a privilege and an honour. The client is entrusting you to their most important possession and interpreting their vision. We would steer clear of someone who is using the project just to enrich a portfolio or pushing their opinion without listening. 

Visit Colindale Design a bespoke interior design studio based in Adelaide, South Australia, which specialises in end-to-end design resolutions for residential and small scale commercial projects. http://www.colindaledesign.com.au/

Kate Grope