Working with a designer can be scary and exciting all at once. It requires taking a risk, a lot of trust & patience, and money. The results are oftentimes worth the risk, wait, and cost but the entire time you're working with your designer, it's a two-way street. It's a relationship that requires involvement from both parties in some form or another. And if you want to get the most out of that relationship, it's important to be prepared from the beginning.
The initial meeting with a designer is key. There's a whole lot of information exchanged that can make a major impact the overall direction of your design and how the relationship functions. As a designer, I can say that I've interacted with many people who feel that I should just be able to come up with a design that's perfect for them, fits within their budget, and meets their timeline requirements without them communicating their style, design needs, budget or timeline. And while I do think I'm good at what I do, I'm not a mind-reader...as I don't think any designer is a mind-reader, so we need your help.
There will be a few things that, even if you communicate with me as perfectly and clearly as possible, I still might fight you on, but I can promise I will do my best to work within your requests while still creating the best design possible for you.
All that being said, here are a few things to consider before an initial design meeting:
Who are the decision makers and are they all present? Anyone who's going to have an input that matters to the design should be present. And this is not just at the initial design meeting, it's at every meeting. Otherwise, the dialogue that needs to happen about design decisions can't take place when everyone is present which will cause a set-back.
How and who is going to be using this space. What are the major functions of it? This will affect the type of furniture selected and furniture placement. It also dictates style direction (more dressy or more casual).
What type of lighting would you prefer to have in the space--keep the natural light, lots of can lighting, do you need more lamp lighting? Will this be a space that you read in? Lighting is super important to a space from a design perspective so it's important that your needs are met while we are able to address it on the style side too.
Storage? While we're not personal organizers, we do want to streamline the look of your space. If it's already cramped and dark feeling, we may want to eliminate some furniture however, we'll want to make sure your storage needs are still covered so we need to see all the stuff.
What's your style? Yes, you have a style. Everyone has a style. You may not be able to put a name on it or a specific title, but you have design elements that you'd like to see or are drawn to and it's important to pinpoint those for your designer.
What's your budget. Yes, you have a budget. Everyone has a budget. :) You may not know exactly how much something like this costs, but you know your pocketbook and know what you're willing to spend on your home's interior so please, please, please, think about that factor. Otherwise, everyone's time will be wasted.
Like we said at the beginning, working with a designer is a relationship and is a two-way street so be prepared to hold up your end of the bargain.