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Hiring an Interior Designer: What You Need to Know

“Where do I start?” is the most common question of homeowners preparing for a remodel project or a new home construction. We’re going to make it easy for you, start with an interior designer.

If you’ve been watching HGTV or purusing through Houzz, you’ve seen the “wow” effect an interior designer’s work can leave on a project. What you may not have seen is the behind the scenes work the designer does to keep a project pulled together, on track and on budget.

The Cost

Most homeowners think they can’t afford an interior designer. If you plan to build a home in the $250,000 or higher range, you can’t afford not to hire an interior designer. In North Mississippi, the average price of a home above 2,000 square feet often lands in this range. According to, homeowners spend an average of just over $5,000 on interior design services. (The low end for small projects starts at $500 and on the high end goes up to just under $20,000.) Because interior designers can marry the technical aspects of building or remodeling a home with the latest trends, technology and your needs, a designer can save up that amount in change orders alone.

Interior Designers vs Interior Decorators

As homeowners, we all tend to lump both these professionals into one category, however, they both have specific functions. Decorators focus on the aesthetics of a project so if you want to change the color of your paint or choose styles, a decorator could be a good fit. For projects that involve replacing wiring, removing walls or cabinets or changing out flooring, you’ll want to contact an interior designer. Designers have degrees in interior design and have passed the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. In Mississippi, in order used the title “Certified Interior Designer” they must have met the state’s requirements for the certificate. All this training means they are uniquely educated about building codes, space planning and safety in addition to having an eye for the aesthetic design of a project.

Interior Designers vs Contractors

Your contractor is a key piece of your remodel or new home construction project. He or she will do the actual work of tearing out walls, replacing wiring and building out the project. Contractors usually look at your plans for any issues that might come up, but they do not always look for ways to add to the plans to make your remodel or new construction more user friendly for you. An interior designer will talk to you about your goals for the project. Do you want a kitchen where the entire family can prepare meals together? Are you remodeling with plans to sell your home in the next five years? Do you expect your family to grow after you build your new home? All these and many more questions will allow a designer to help you tweak your building plans so that they not only work physically but they also work for your lifestyle.

Getting Started

Hiring an interior designer should be one of the first steps you take in the building or remodeling process. They can help you tweak plans, begin to look at finishes like cabinets and floors and even help you choose a contractor. Having a contractor and designer who communicate well will save you time and money in the long run. Interior designers often have connections with local suppliers. These connections allow them to access to the best deals and products available. Interview a prospective designer before you hire. Ask to see their portfolio or look at projects they’ve posted on their website or Houzz account. Listen to see if they ask you appropriate questions about use of the space, future needs and your own personal style. Choose a designer whose style and personality will compliment yours but who you feel confident will represent your interest in design decisions.

What to Expect

Designers will do as much or as little as you, the homeowner, want. We suggest you involve your designer in all the major decisions of your project. Ensure your designer has a good grasp of your original design and oversees any of the requested changes to those plans. Designers may go with you to choose finishes like flooring, cabinets, countertops and lighting or you may ask them to do the shopping for you and offer you a few choices. Your designer can keep all your choices organized, make notes of specific products you are considering and remind you how those products may interact with other aspects of your design. Designers often visit the job site regularly to ensure the work is being completed according to your design and may be an objective third party in major decisions or discussions. Often designers coordinate the arrival of specific products and inspect those products to ensure the right ones have been delivered. Realizing the flooring company sent over the wrong color tile after half of it has been laid can be a costly mistake a designer may be able to prevent.

If you’re considering hiring an interior designer for your remodel or new construction project, start by searching the list of certified interior designers on the Mississippi State Board of Architecture’s website.

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