How to Find the Best Interior Designer For You

It’s not easy being an excellent interior designer. (It may be a great passion and pursuit – but it’s not easy. ūüôā And it’s not easy being a layperson trying to find the right excellent designer.


I suppose that puts everybody in her own pickle.

And so begs the question – particularly where your home, hearth and very real dollars are at stake…how do you find not only the RIGHT designerbut also the right designer for you and your family.This blog post is a hopeful answer to the question of finding the right interior designer. But, first…a true story with “a message”:

Goldilocks and Her Designer

Not too¬†ago, I was shopping in a great little resource of mine in order to source something for a client. As I prowled, I spotted this¬†striking woman. Long and lean, no one could miss her or her short, spiky whiter-than-white-blond hair. She had legs from here to forever, beautifully showcased by her uber-skinny jeans and tall boots. She sported a snappy black¬†cashmere wrap and over the shoulder briefcase. My striking friend was armed and ready with a notepad and tape measure in hand, her¬†dramatically lined green eyes maintaining surgical focus as she scanned the store for that certain¬† “something” – just as I was doing. (Though trust me,¬†nobody was noticing my hair or legs!) This woman was clearly designer-on-a-mission¬†and she¬†broadcast the most deliciously edgy air with a pungent “don’t mess with me” scent. She was fantastic!!!! I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear.

I was secretly fascinated as I watched her from afar and so¬†mused, “Hmmm….I wonder what her clients are like?!?!?!”

Well, lo and behold from the showroom’s shadows¬†emerged a magnificently manicured, equally edgy woman. She wore heavy make-up,¬†designer finery covered her head to toe, and her marvelous high heels clicked like castanets on the showroom floor.¬† These were clearly client shoes…not get¬†design-work-done shoes. There before me stood¬†the client I’d just wondered about who had come to find her designer. She excitedly called to my spiky-blond friend to come look at something that “could be perfect for the dining room” – what did she think? The two¬†converged on a sideboard as if it was “the mouse for a hawk.” It was perfect – these 2 were grrrreat together! It was a fun moment. The moral of this true tale? Every shoe has its match…AND…I’m here to tell you that you’ll find your perfect match in a designer too.


Finding the right interior designer is like finding the right dance partner. No – you need not look alike or carry the same air…but, there will likely be some simpatico, somewhere. So – how DO you go about locating the ideal council and steward to your design project needs, the right guide to walk you through the process, the ideal design brain to create the end result you’re craving? Here are some tips.

1. Word of Mouth. It’s old fashioned, I know…but it works. Ask anyone you know WHO they know or who they know who COULD know. Word of Mouth remains a great way to find people with a personal touch. If you want to make this old-fashioned suggestion feel more current- use social networking to broaden your net. Put out the word on Facebook or LinkedIn. Ask¬†your Facebook friends to send you a name or even a lead to someone else who may have a great designer to recommend.¬† Personal referral is always ideal.

2. Attend lectures or workshops by designers so you can get a sense of their work style and have a long, running “interview” of sorts. Visit show houses and see who is giving lectures as part of the house’s run. Spend time listening to a designer in a lecture to get a real solid read on who she is, her process, what she values, how she treats clients¬†and how she’d be to work with.

3. Attend Design Show Houses. Some designers do these in order to “advertise” their business, some do not. I don’t do them¬†because they are so time and labor intensive for me and my team that it stresses our client service to our existing clients and we just never seem to have the break in our production calendar to be able to do a show. (Show house work also requires that designers purchase and hold inventory…not of interest to many designers). Still, go to them anyway. Furthermore, show houses will often sponsor lectures and workshops by designers and industry experts who may not be in the show house that year – (for the reasons I just mentioned) – but who are equally talented and worth knowing.

4. Check out websites. ¬†Here’s where you need to be careful. You may not see your “style” on a design website, but if you like the way the rooms are ordered – their harmony and sensibility…the designer is worth a telephone call. Do note that most designers don’t have nearly as much work to show on a site as what they’ve done in total. The reasons vary from: Many clients don’t finish their interiors to the point that they are photographable; some clients don’t like to let their spaces be photographed – and in some cases, a designer is called upon only to help replace just a few elements in the room, and as such the room – though very pleasing to the client – may not yield what is termed “significant work” that should be photographed for a portfolio. That is not intended to sound harsh – it’s an industry insider truth and in no way casts aspersions on clients whose interiors do not make it into designer portfolios.

5. Google Search¬† Do a Google Search on¬†designers in your “City, State” – for example, Google search “Top Designers Philadelphia, PA” ¬†or “Best designers City, State” in your area and see who comes up. Your town may not be big enough to yield a search engine search, so keep broadening out to towns and cities in your vicinity until you get search results. Once you have some leads, follow up with a trip to their site and then if interested, make a phone call.

The next big key to finding the RIGHT designer is THE INTERVIEW.

In another blog post, I’ll teach you HOW to interview a designer for maximum results – I am amazed at what clients don’t think to ask me on the phone prior to our first meeting – as well as what they don’t ask in their first meeting. But, for now – I have a bathroom tile plan to spec – and so – I am off!

Good luck in that search, you wonderful design client you!