4 crucial questions for your Design Associate

I can think of another caption for this New Yorker cartoon: Louis XIV thinking, "I told the designer I needed furniture fit for a King’s mission, not mission furniture. "

Keep this little cartoon in mind when you start shopping with your design associate in High Point. The assistance is free and some designers are so good you'd pay them hundreds of dollars an hour to work with you.

The following 4 questions can help you find the right associate for your project.

How long have you worked here? More than one year is a good sign. Some stores may have high associate turnover and that’s an important consideration.

If your associate is new to the place, ask about previous experience with other stores. If they tend to jump around a lot, that's not a great sign.

One caveat: The recent economy has closed a lot of showrooms, and some associates may be moving around with the economy.

What is the most important thing to you about design? Scale is everything. Sometimes a few inches don't matter, and sometimes they really do.

For example, a cocktail table should be at least 18 inches from the edge of the sofa to the cocktail table, and a minimum of 3 feet in a heavy traffic room (such as an entrance in a family room versus a door to the library that no one uses).

A good designer knows you need to make room to navigate among the furniture. The best designers understand scale, proportion and color.

Do you have experience in design? Listen for a response that includes a solid design background, or someone who has been a designer on their own or in some other capacity.

Design degrees tend to be rare, so if you find someone with a degree, that's a great sign.

Finally, ask if they can show you pictures of projects they've recently completed.

Once you start working together, you’ll want to watch for the following:

Customer service and follow-up. Do they get right back to you? Do they jump on the issues before it becomes a bigger problem?

Are they listening to you? If you're car shopping and looking for a family car and the salesman keeps showing you sports cars, or a Lexus Sedan, it's pretty clear that you're not on the same wavelength.

Are they paying attention to your priorities? Not just trying to sell furniture? Are they showing you things you actually like, of the quality, and price range you desire.

If you don't like your associate's answers to any of these questions, you can request to work with someone else. Also, feel free to give me a call before you come here. I'd be happy to help you find the right one.

- Carole (336) 404-1040