Interview and vet a designer much as you would a contractor.
Ask for references. RECENT references. Talk to those folks about their experiences.
SEE the finished products.
So much goes into design - architectural theme, building codes, environment, physics, geometry, theater, art, rules of space, light, color and proportion, human kinesthetics, human nature, materials, products, methods, to name but a few. Not to mention the simple mystery of artistic inspiration and—when it comes to remodeling—the ability to see beyond the story that has already been told in order to write a new one.
A good designer has these constantly living and moving within them. As they get to know you, your house, and start to pull your dreams out of you, these elements begin to congeal into a vision.
Self-knowledge is your best ally. It doesn’t make you a designer or bring you these unique skills or artistic gifts or knowledge, but there’s no great design without it. You shouldn’t need to tell a designer what to design, only how you want to live, and why. Great home design is not about style, it’s about life-style.
Those are the kinds of questions you are more than qualified to answer and that only you can answer. A good designer should listen intently to your lifestyle and—because some of what you’ll say will be locked up in your limited knowledge of choices—ignore those biases just a little, so the tail doesn’t wag the dog.
A good designer will listen, ask probing questions, and give pushback at times. Any artist who is passionate about your project will have strong opinions. But, at the end of the day, after the pushback and all debates have ended, a good designer will execute what you want them to do.
Try writing a Design Brief even for the simplest of changes to your home.
• What are the project’s goals?
• How do you want to change how you live?
• What kind of experiences do you want to have in this space?
• What is the timeline?
• What is the budget?
A good designer will help you find the “game changers” and not rush too quickly into details.
The Pareto Principle aka 80/20 Principle: Named after a 19th Century Italian Economist Vilfredo Pareto who noticed in many of his economic studies that often in life 80% of the effects come from only 20% of the causes.
In short, there are some root problems with your home causing most of the issues. Miss them, and no amount of work will change the problem. Change them, and not only will it be hard to get anything else wrong, it probably wont matter.
Here’s the TRUTH that I strive to design by …
“The most important thing we can invest in a project is the emotional connection to the audience. The concept, the story, the connection to people—all of this needs to come first, and only then can you ladle on layer upon layer of detail on the right things. It’s easy to jump to detailing before you’ve focused your story, which means you don’t know where the best detail belongs and where it should be eliminated. And you come up with something that is scattered all over the place. If it’s not driving emotion and filled with heart and feeling it’s not going to work.”