Have you ever wanted to hire an interior designer or decorator to come over and “just take care of everything”? But did you ever think about what the “everything” really is? And what that interior design fee really includes? Wonder no more, I am here to clue you in:
Most people think about an interior designer and zero in on the idea of just “making things pretty” like fluffing pillows and selecting fabric for curtains.
But our job goes way beyond that. A designer has the vision for the space – and then plans and implements that vision so that the room(s) are both functional AND beautiful. I liken it to a pair of shoes – they may LOOK good, but if they are not comfortable, you won’t enjoy them. A designer will balance the client’s aesthetic style with their lifestyle – while also working with the home’s architectural features (including where to hide the electrical outlets or cords). Keep in mind, that while juggling these details a good designer works closely with a handful of trusted artisans, vendors, and contractors who fulfill the design.
Here is what our design fee includes when we are hired for a Comprehensive Design service:
- Initial design brainstorm – this is where our team runs through all of the “big picture” ideas and I hone in on the final vision. This includes creating custom solutions like this bar we designed for a client, the layout of the furniture, general color palette, unique features, and how the room(s) will flow.
- Trade Day visit with contractors on the project site. We need to make sure our design vision is able to be implemented. Plus we need to get all sorts of measurements so we can confirm our space planning. This also includes reviewing all of the bids from the contractors.
- Space planning – we cannot start selecting any furniture if we don’t know what size to shop for.
- Fabric selection – this is where our color palette for the entire room or house generally starts. We will literally order up to 500 samples to edit down to 50 or more for a full house design. Yes. 500. That was not a typo. Read more about choosing fabric HERE.
- Product sourcing. A fancy term for shopping. This is much more detailed than you can imagine. We have to confirm the dimensions, color, finish, availability, pricing and shipping terms for every single piece. And if we are creating a custom anything, we have to make sure the item is fully specified for the artisan to create. For example, a custom pillow should be simple, right? Well, we have to confirm the fabric selection not only works with the design, but will withstand the use, determine what size pillow is necessary, confirm whether we want the pillow form to be a polyester fill, down filled, or a blend, and of course we must choose a trim for the pillow (self corded, knife edge, or a decorative trim) and whether it should close with a zipper or a button fold. You cannot imagine the number of phone calls and emails between us and the vendors…and if one thing changes (i.e. is discontinued or not available in the finish we want), it can change the whole room’s selections / color palette or even the design.
- Elevation creation. These images will help us confirm or revise our initial design details. This also helps the client visualize the concept we have planned for them and is shared in the Presentation (step #9 below).
- Budget analysis & adjustment – because most clients do not have a money tree growing in the backyard.
- Sample acquisitions – we collect as many samples of the selections we will be suggesting to our client so they can touch and feel the items in our studio before giving approval to purchase. Samples include fabric, trim, paint colors, wood stains, area rugs, hardware, stone and tile, linens, wallpaper, furniture samples (as available) and anything else that is applicable to the design that we can get our hands on to convey our vision. Again, a ton of phone calls and emails to coordinate any items that the vendor lends us temporarily.
- Presentation is in studio and will last 1 – 3 hours, depending on the size of the project. This presentation includes the whole kit-and-kaboodle showcasing the design. It also includes food and if it’s happy hour, we serve cocktails. This is a great time for our clients because we are unveiling what has been developing for weeks and answers all of the design challenges they brought to us to solve. We also address any questions that arise, and send the presentation home with our clients to review further.
But what does this cost you? Interior designers have a variety of fee structures. Some charge an hourly rate ($75 – $500). Some designers work based on a flat fee, which will vary depending on the size of the project but can range from a few thousand dollars to a hefty 6-figures; the flat fee may be based on hours estimated, square footage, or a combination. Finally, some designers will charge a percentage of total project costs. Most designers will require a deposit or retainer before beginning the design. Some designers don’t give the whole presentation as part of their service. This is an industry that can vary widely – but like anything, you get what you pay for.
Note the above process ends at the Presentation. Once the design is approved, there is the Procurement process, which is the concierge purchasing service we offer with our Comprehensive Design. Some designers include this in their Design Fee. We charge an hourly rate to implement because some clients handle the purchasing of any retail selections that we include in the design.
And finally, here is a good description of what an Interior Designer does. I think this snapshot came from one of my Mastermind sessions with Tobi Fairley. It’s pretty spot on.
Keep in mind, all of the education, years of experience, creative ideas and solutions your designer brings to the table when it comes to your project. This intellectual property is difficult to put a number on. What value do you put on the creation of a highly functional and beautiful home?
That is what an Interior Design Fee includes. Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below!