The most common question I get from potential clients during our first conversation is "how does this work?". Honestly, I'm happy to hear it so I can explain to them how easy it is to become my client. I think one of the main reasons people don't hire (or even call) an interior designer is because they are afraid it will be too expensive or intimidating. I'm here to tell you that most designers are neither, including me! Let's tackle the money issue first. Every designer is different, but most work one of three ways - hourly fee, flat fee or a mark-up on goods. Some even employ two of these methods for the same project.
Hourly Fee is probably the most common way designers charge. Since most of what we provide is a service (not actual materials), we have to charge for our time. Same as an attorney, accountant or even a hair dresser would. The average hourly rate is $75.00. Some designers charge less, but most charge a lot more. You would be amazed at how much I can get done in an hour and I'm very honest with my clients on how my time is spent.
Flat Fee is similar to the hourly fee as it's based on how much time the designer estimates your project will take or they base it on a percentage of the overall project budget. Most clients prefer this method as they know exactly what their fee will be. I've been happy to provide my clients with a flat fee as long as our agreement includes a very detailed list of what services I provide for that fee.
Mark-Up is how most furniture stores can offer free design services. Their fee is included in the 100% to 200% mark-up they have on the products they are selling. Some designers, including myself, will come to an agreed upon percentage and add that to all purchases they make on their client's behalf. This can work out really well for a client who needs a lot of furniture, art or accessories as they can be assured they are getting a much better price than from their local furniture store. Please let me assure you that any good designer will be up front and honest with their fee structure and will create a design agreement where everything is laid out. Never proceed with a large project without getting a signed agreement. That would be my biggest piece of advice!
I also want you to understand that most designers pay for themselves in helping you not make costly mistakes. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I wish I had called you sooner" from clients. It's never too early to consult with a designer. Not only can we offer advice on your design plan, but also suggest tradespeople who will treat you fairly.
Now, onto the intimidating aspect of calling a designer. My best advice when looking for a designer is to ask your friends. Post a question on Facebook and wait to see what kind of responses you get back. If that doesn't work, get on the Internet and look at web sites. Another great source I've found for not only great ideas, but designers is Houzz. I have a profile on their site that not only features some of my work, but allows users to ask questions about photos.
Most designers will take on any size project, big or small. I have clients who just call me to help with some window treatments, while others are building a new house from scratch. I've never turned down a job because it was small! Small jobs usually turn into larger ones and establish a life long relationship with a client.
If you still want some more advice on this, here are some great links I've found that would be worth reading:
I hope this post helps clear up any misconceptions you may have and if you need help on a project, big or small, please call me.