You're in the market for an interior decorator. So you ask friends, family, and peers for recommendations. You find a list of decorators in your area. And maybe you comb through ads on directory sites or Craigslist or similar sites, looking for someone who can help you with what you need.
Once you have narrowed down your choices, it is important to look into the online reputation of your final candidates. The Internet stores a treasure trove of data about interior decorators and their body of work, core competencies, and temperament (even when they are unaware of it, as this article on Reputation.com. That's why it's vital to access this information cache before engaging the service of an interior designer.
Here are five specific reasons why checking the online reputation of an interior designer is important:
1. To see how he/she handles complaints or criticism. Interior decorators often have very strong opinions about their work and design choices. Inevitably, some people will not agree with those opinions - and a few may say as much in a blog comment or review.
Seeing how decorators respond to these critiques will tell you a lot about them. If you find any instances where they lash out at the source of the criticism with anger and defensiveness, you may wonder how kindly they will react if you dare to question their "expertise."
2. To see if he/she has any dogmatic, unusual, or controversial opinions. Sure, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But you are also entitled to find an interior decorator with whom you see eye-to-eye.
So if a decorator says, "I avoid pink at all costs," it may send up a red flag if you fancy pink. If he or she says, "I don't think men have any sense of style or design," you may question his or her open-mindedness. And droning on about nontraditional or contentious religious, moral, or spiritual issues in your presence may cause you to speculate about his or her judgment.
3. To see what his/her tastes are. Ideally, you'd like someone who can appreciate your individual design and décor needs. A little Internet research can give you a pretty good feel about an interior decorator's penchants.
See if a particular interior decorator favors certain blogs or websites for his or her opinions (for example, favoring high-end furniture or expensive accents vs. "decorating on a budget"). Also, try to figure out what designs, colors, and layouts he or she commonly recommends or promotes. If a decorator's preferences seem to be in line with your own, he or she may be a nice fit.
4. To see if he or see has been associated with any disputes. The bottom line is that an interior decorator is a contractor, just like a homebuilder or a repairman. And it's important that whomever you choose to do business with is trustworthy and aboveboard.
This is where scouring online forums, comments, and review sites can help. It's a good sign if you can find positive feedback and praise about a given interior decorator from former clients. But if the first couple of pages on a search engine reveal multiple negative reviews or statements about substandard or incomplete work, then you should probably look elsewhere.
5. To see if he/she denigrates other clients. It's important to choose an interior decorator whom you can trust. Part of that trust involves knowing that he or she won't talk badly about you behind your back.
So you may want to think twice about an interior decorator who relates "decorating horror stories" in a tone which belittles or insults a former client. After all, that "former client" could be you someday.