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Looking for professional help?

Finding the best person to help with the interior design of your home can stymie even staunch souls.

The best start is a word-of-mouth referral from a trusted source, appraising professionalism and attentiveness as well as taste.

Most residential interior designers practice independently, for design firms, or in affiliation with the custom decorating service of a store.

Many professionals are members of the American institute of Interior Designers (ASID), the International Institute of Interior Designers (ISID), or both. Membership indicates a certain level of accredited education, tested knowledge, and professional experience. Regional ASID offices will make telephone recommendations of local professionals with expertise appropriate to your job.

Before you talk to a designer, you need to decide what a redesign must accomplish and what you can afford, as well as who will make the decisions (tales of husband-wife disagreements are legion). Assemble pictures of rooms you like; some consistency in your taste should appear. (Designers say one of the most difficult challenges is a client who doesn't know what he or she likes.)

Interview designers in your home. The designer should ask you lots of questions beyond your budget and style preferences-from how you use current spaces and what you want to achieve to, perhaps, family allergies and visitor patterns. Inquire about the designer's professional background and ask for references to homes you can visit.

The services of store-affiliated designers are free. Fee structures of others vary, depending on the designer and the job. You may be charged a flat fee, an hourly fee, or a percentage over the discount price that manufacturers, dealers, and tradesmen charge designers. Or, fees can involve a combination-such as payment for a design scheme, deposit toward goods on order, an hourly fee to oversee work by tradesmen, a percentage over designer discount (sometimes ranging up to full retail cost). You may be asked to sign a letter of agreement spelling out fees and services.

Once you've satisfied yourself on professional abilities and compatible taste, the choice comes down to a matter of rapport-ask yourself, "Is this a person I want to get to know?" The better a designer understands your household, the better job he or she can do for you.
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Title Annotation:Inside the Western Home; interior decorators
Date:Oct 1, 1990
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