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Question:
I have never used an interior designer or decorator before, but would like to hire one to help with finishes and furniture placement in our new home. I'm not sure where to begin looking for one and I'm not even sure how they charge! Do you have any suggestions?

Answer:
An interior designer or decorator can be a great help, particularly when you're faced with designing and decorating an entire house. Most designers work on an hourly fee basis, but fees can vary greatly from city to city and across the country. Many designers and decorators will work on a percentage of cost of furniture and accessories purchased forgoing an hourly fee. Regardless of how they charge, just make sure you understand and are comfortable with the arrangements prior to hiring them. So how the designer will charge should be one of the first questions you ask them during your initial interview.

Here are some ways to find a designer or decorator that is right for you. The main difference between an interior designer and a decorator is that typically an interior designer has a degree in interior design from an accredited college. Be aware of your states regulations concerning interior designers and decorators. Some states require individuals to meet certain educational and knowledge requirements in order to go by the title "interior designer".

- Ask your friends of family if they can recommend a good designer or decorator. A personal reference is worth its weight in gold.

- Go to a Designer Showhouse in your area. You will be able to view the work of several designers, as well as get some fabulous ideas.

- Call your local ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) chapter for a recommendation. You can also visit their web site for a referral at www.asid.com. IIDA (International Interior Design Association) can also give you a local designers name. Their web site is www.iida.com. Either of these professional organizations will match a local designer with your needs.

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