YES, Hiring a designer will transform your space in ways you never dreamed of, and we are so glad you found us!

BUT. There’s something you need to hear before reaching out through that ‘contact us’ form…

Hiring an Interior designer requires some prep work on your end.

To get the best results and guarantee a smooth process, you’ll want to do a few key things before bringing in a pro. 

Explore Unshelf Design’s project portfolio now.

#1. Set a Realistic Budget

First things first—money. 

Clear budgets steer the ship. When we ask you for your ‘budget’ it is in everyone’s best interest if you have a good idea of what you are comfortable spending. While we cannot guarantee that we can get you everything you want within your budget, we will use it to make the best decisions on pieces that fall within the appropriate category (eg: a $5,000 couch or a custom $10,000 couch) so that we can get you as close as possible.

dark green statement lighting dining room

Consider the scope of your interior design project—are you doing a full home makeover or just refreshing a single room?

Research the average costs for the type of work you want done. And don’t forget to factor in a buffer for unexpected expenses because, well… there’s always something unexpected. I always recommend 20% of your overall budget for your contingency fund. 

START HERE – These pricing sheets will help you understand how much hiring an interior designer costs, and the price tags associated with your renovation and furnishings.

#2. Think About Your Lifestyle

Design is just as much about making your space work for you as it is about making it look good. Think about how you live daily. Ask yourself questions like: 

  • Do you have a bustling household with kids and pets running around? 
  • Do you work from home? 
  • Do you entertain often?

Your lifestyle should heavily influence your design choices. For example: durable, easy-to-clean materials might be a priority if you have young children. If you enjoy cooking and hosting, a well-designed kitchen with ample storage and comfortable island seating might be the most important aspect. The more you can help us understand how you live, the better we can tailor the design to suit your needs and style. 

#3. Gather Inspo & Ideas

Now the fun part. 

bedroom with plant display

Take some time to explore different styles and concepts that appeal to you. Create Pinterest boards or save Instagram posts that catch your eye. Don’t be afraid to play around either—AI tools can also help you visualize different design elements in your space.

As you collect ideas, look for patterns in what you like (don’t worry – we can help with this. The collection of ideas is the most important part). This will allow us to see if you are drawn to minimalism, rustic charm, or eclectic vibes, for example. Maybe you’re totally and completely obsessed with Wabi Sabi like me! Spend some time organizing your findings in a way that makes sense to you. Mood boards can be incredibly helpful in this process. They allow you to see how different elements might come together in a cohesive design. The clearer your vision, the easier it will be for us to bring it to life.

Looking for some DIY inspo? Register for one of our workshops!

#4. Figure Out Needs vs. Wants

A successful design project hinges on clarity about what you absolutely must have versus what you’d like to have. Start by making a list of essential elements—these are your non-negotiables. Maybe it’s a certain amount of storage, a specific layout, a home office, or architectural features like wainscotting up your stairwell.

Next, create a list of wants. These are the nice-to-haves that would elevate your space but aren’t critical right now (if the budget does not permit). Perhaps it’s that statement lighting fixture, luxury finishes, or high-end appliances.

Prioritizing your needs over your wants helps make sure your budget is allocated effectively and your primary objectives are met. It also makes it easier to make decisions if compromises are necessary along the way.

#5. Be Open-Minded & Ready to Communicate

Working with a designer (or any professional for that matter) is a collaborative process. Be ready to talk openly. Share your ideas, preferences, and concerns honestly.

Trust is key. Remember, you hired a designer for their expertise. Be open to their suggestions and recommendations, even if they challenge your initial ideas. Designers can offer insights and solutions you might not have considered. 

stunning dining room

Also, be prepared to get comfy with your designer—they’ll see your un-made bed, measuring your messy closet, and walking deep into the darkest corner of that room you haven’t been in in years.


And just like that, you’re ready to hire a designer!

(Hi, we are Unshelf Design 🙂)

This list of musts will help you lay a solid foundation for a successful design project and keep you and your designer on the same page.

Ready to start your design adventure? We’re ready to join you! Contact Unshelf today.