We interviewed several designers and finally hired one to help on a consultation basis to keep costs down.
Next finding a contractor.
I have rented for a gazillion years and I want this place to be amazing. It's not going to be fancy, but I want it reflect us, and the idea that the work isn't done well will keep me up at night. SO, my dear friend Brandi gave us a list of contractors (she and her husband did a beautiful reno a few years ago).
You would think it was simple from there, just hire the person who did their work. But no, he came with a laundry list of caveats.
Our search begins. First REACH the contractor, not easy, then set a date- ha ha, 4 of 7 had the wrong time, wrong address or wrong day or simply managed to be an hour late. Then the estimate, were they in the same ballpark? Nope. A difference of 50,000 from the lowest to the highest and one of our contractors never actually gave us an estimate, he just vanished. We almost hired one on the lower end, but then searched Angie's List and found they had 3 F ratings, that didn't inspire confidence and we put a stop payment on the check. At the high end was George, we both fell in love with George, he oozed confidence and had impossibly high ratings on Angie's List. We wanted to marry him, hire him, have him have our babies, but after long deliberation we decided that we wanted to eat too, so we had to scratch him off the list.
In the end we hired Alberto, he came with glowing references and a very very sweet disposition. He was in the mid range, still a lot more than I was expecting or wanting to spend, but the peace of mind will be worth it.
Now we await approval from the building to go ahead.
Keep you posted!