4 questions to ask your interior designer before renovating your new HDB home

PHOTO: Livspace

Hiring an interior designer (ID) can be a daunting task, especially for first-time homeowners. You'll have to go through an endless list of interior design firms in Singapore and shortlist them based on their experiences and portfolio.

A friend of mine met up with close to 10 IDs before finally engaging one that he was comfortable with and was also within his budget.

Olesya Fomenkova, Business Manager and Design Director at Livspace said: "Hiring an interior designer is similar to finding a new partner...Thus, it is important to ask the right questions, to ensure that you are the right fit."

She even suggested going for a chat with the ID over a cup of coffee just to see if you're vibing with each other.

Fomenkova added: "Having a good sense of each other’s priorities and working styles will allow for an enjoyable partnership."

Home renovation takes months to complete and can sometimes be a very stressful season, so the last thing you want is to be at war with an ID and regret your decisions in the years to come.

So before you jump the gun and settle with an ID, make sure you approach them with the right questions. 

ASK FOR A FREE QUOTATION

Unless you're unconstrained by a budget, you should ask your prospective ID about the rough cost of renovating your home. Right off the bat, you'll know if you can take the next steps and proceed with the designer or move on to the next ID.

Said Fomenkova: "This helps you and the designer understand the expectations from the project, and allows you to align your vision with the budget."

"Price is not indicative of ability at all. That said, good designers know their value," she added, "and it is best to have a well-thought-out and realistic budget from the get-go so you can plan accordingly."

ASK TO VIEW YOUR DESIGNER'S PORTFOLIO

Seeing your designer's past works can help to build your confidence in them, so never be shy to ask them for their portfolio.

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"This way you can see if you like their approach to [designing an] interior and if your visions align," said Fomenkova.

With technology so advanced, you can even go on a little stalking spree on the various social media platforms, and chances are, you might find their works on former clients' Instagram accounts. 

You may also want to look through the reviews on their Facebook page and home renovation forums to find out more from fellow homeowners.

As the saying goes, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating", and their feedback will usually be unbiased and coupled with pictures to boot.

ASK IF THEY PREFER FULL CREATIVE CONTROL OR WELCOME CLIENT INVOLVEMENT

To understand your ID's working style, Formenkova suggested asking questions such as, "what their favourite projects were, where they get their inspiration from, and whether they prefer full creative control or welcome client involvement".

Hearing them chat about their favourite projects will give you an idea of the types of designs they're excited to work on and if they're going to approach your ideas with the same enthusiasm. 

Knowing if you can be involved in the creative process is important as well, especially if you already have a design concept in mind and have an idea of how hands-on you'll be during the renovation. 

CHALLENGE THEM WITH YOUR PROJECT

While understanding that every ID has their own unique strengths and skills, Formenkova advised homeowners to challenge them with your project, whilst "taking their achievements into consideration".

A good ID will push themselves to do better than their previous achievement, just as with any other professionals.

Do share with us if you have any other tips in hiring an ID!

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