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How to Work with an Interior Designer

Local interior designers' pet peeves, advice, and most-asked questions.
| |Nathan Schroder
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Nathan Schroder

Designers have thoughts on your art, rugs, and window coverings—just to name a few—be they hung too high or too low, sized too big or too small, or selected incorrectly to begin with. Our 2024 Best Designers share their biggest pet peeves, sage design advice, and important questions you should ask a potential hire. Carrie Hatfield of Carrie Hatfield Interior Design says her biggest gripe is “when everyone’s houses start to look the same,” while Lindley Arthur of Lindley Arthur Interiors urges to “take a risk in every room.” Here’s what the others had to say. 

Take Note: Ten Designer Pet Peeves

1. “Drapery dragging on the floor. I do not like when drapery is hung too low.”
Julie Hayes, Simms Hayes Design

2. “Cool lighting temperature (less than 3,000K) in a residence.”
Kristen Fegale, Kristen Fegale Interiors

3. “Too much shine. Not everything can be the star of the show.”
Christina Garcia Lysaught, Layered Dimensions Interior Design

4. “Art hung too high.”
Morgan Farrow, Morgan Farrow Interiors

5. “Furniture shoved against walls.”
Eddie Maestri, Maestri Studio

6. “Popcorn ceilings and badly textured walls. Please, no more!”
Javier Burkle, Burkle Creative

7. “Rugs that are too small.” 
Cheri Etchelecu Martin, Cheri Etchelecu Interior Design

8. “Being afraid to go bold, fearing it may be a waste of money in the long run.” 
Holly Moore, Holly Hickey Moore Interior Design

9. “Clutter. Nothing looks beautiful if a space is cluttered.”
Carla Fonts, Dunbar Road Design

10. “Art selected specifically to ‘match’ the home.”
Lindley Arthur, Lindley Arthur Interiors

Thirteen Valuable Pieces of Design Advice

1. “On buying quality: Buy until it hurts, but you’ll only have to buy it once.” 
Margaret Chambers, Chambers Interiors & Associates

2. “Know when to stop.” 
Samantha Fisher, Samantha Fisher Interiors

3. “Take a risk in every room!”
Lindley Arthur, Lindley Arthur Interiors

4. “Every room should have a little bit of black in it.”
Mary Elizabeth Canon, Canon & Dean Design

5. “There is a right and wrong way of doing things in design. Look to history to find the right way.”
Kristen Woolery, Woolery Associates

6. “Trust your first instincts—about design and people.”
Bill Cates, Peters Cates Design

7. “Do not compromise on comfort.”
Noel Pittman, Noel Pittman Design

8. “Do the little things well, and then do them over and over again.”
Ginger Curtis, Urbanology Designs

9. “Harmony is more important than conformity.”
Betty Lou Phillips, Betty Lou Phillips Interiors

10. “Joe Minton told me to not make colors match exactly—choose colors that are interesting.”
Cathy Kincaid, Cathy Kincaid Interiors

11. “Always try paint colors on-site, morning, noon, and night. Light is color.”
Cheryl Van Duyne, Cheryl Van Duyne Interior Design

12. “Scale is everything.”
Philip Vanderford, Studio Thomas James

13. “Tricky is tacky.”
David Salem, Salem & Associates

Seven Questions a Client Should Always Ask When Meeting with a Prospective Designer

1. “Can you give me an example of your best client experience and your worst client experience?”
Traci Connell, Traci Connell Interiors

2. “What makes a good project?”
Corbin See, Sees Design

3. “If I hire you, do I get you on the project?”
John Marrs, John Phifer Marrs Interiors

4. “Are my budget and timeline realistic?”
Javier Burkle, Burkle Creative

5. “What’s the best way to communicate with you?”
Carrie Collins-Barron, Carrie Barron Interiors

6. “Do you have the bandwidth to take on my project?”
Bill Cates, Peters Cates Design

7. “Would you like something to drink?”
David Salem, Salem & Associates

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