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    What Your Interior Designer Should Be Asking You

    guy_designAs an interior decorator, I have the honor and privilege of being invited into the most intimate arena of a person’s life—their home. I am allowed access to all their dirty secrets, bad habits and quirks that we all have, but can keep hidden behind the confines of our homes.

    I dissect, inspect and analyze aspects of my client’s lives that seem trivial. But, without such probing questions and work, I would never know that the client is allergic to wool and has a tendency to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Ancillary perhaps, but important when trying to create a space that feels organic, natural and uniquely like the client.

    A skilled design professional should be asking you a myriad of questions to ensure that their concept fits with how you live. I tend to break these questions into three general segments; investment/timeline, lifestyle and design. Below are examples of questions interior designers should be asking to ensure you get a space you will love!

    Investment & Timeline

    What is your total investment/budget for this project?

    What is the time frame for the completion of this project?

    Note that when considering your budget, you should be factoring not just the expense of the items to be purchased, but also the designer’s fee. As a general rule of thumb, assume a design fee of 15-20% of the total budget.

    styleLifestyle Questions

    How long have you lived in the residence? How long do you plan on living in the residence?

    Do you have children or pets?

    Do you have family with special needs or space requirements?

    Do you have any hobbies, collections or extra-curricular activities that need to be
    taken into consideration when designing the space?

    Rather than asking clients how they use a space, I ask them to walk me through their day as it relates to the activities they do in the room. It often provides insight into the real activities that occur, rather than the things clients envision they do. Confirming that we are designing for the actual use cases for a space ensures that a space will be utilized to the fullest and, most importantly, loved to the max.

    Design Questions

    What works/does not work in your current space?

    What existing pieces of furniture would you like for us to incorporate into
    your new design?

    What are your favorite/least favorite colors?

    How do you want to feel in the space? Describe the feeling/emotion you want the space to elicit when you walk through the door.

    Be specific when you are answering the designer’s questions. If you have examples of rooms you love or hate, share them with the designer. The more information you can provide, the more detailed the designer can be when pitching their concept.

    Courtney Lake is the interior designer and lifestyle expert behind Monogram Décor ( and his celebrated blog, Courtney Out Loud. He and his work have been featured both in print and on television, including coverage by “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Nate Berkus Show,” the “San Francisco Chronicle,” “Life & Style Magazine,” “RUE Magazine” and “7×7 Magazine.”