“knowledge is power, knowledge of interior design is empowering.”

if you are considering hiring an interior designer, I wanted to share with you some of the common concerns and misconceptions shared with me by my clients.

what is the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

many people use the terms “interior designer” and “interior decorator” interchangeably. however, there is a major difference between these two titles. interior designers are required to have formal education and training. by contrast, interior decorators require no formal training.

an “interior designer” – part architect, part decorator is a more specialized profession, requiring a combined level of education, work experience and licensing.  interior designers are often involved with a building project from the beginning, perhaps working hand in hand with the architect. their job is to create functional interior spaces by understanding people’s behavior and how they will use each room. they can create well-designed spaces for the inside of commercial office buildings, design the seating arrangement and lighting for a restaurant, or select furnishings and finishes for a home. interior designers may also deal with issues of safety like accessibility and adhere to building codes and regulatory requirements.

an “interior decorator” isn’t involved with the design of a building or the layout of the interior space. a decorator generally refers to someone who adorns the space with fashionable or beautiful things in the form of furniture, color, finishes and accessories.

in short,” interior designers” do decorate, but “interior decorators” don’t design.

why do I need/want an interior designer?

whether you need answers to a few questions involving wall color or furniture layout/selections, help on planning and completing a complex remodel or new construction project, the knowledge and assistance of an interior designer is invaluable.

having a professional interior designer who has the knowledge and experience of countless similar projects as well as the information and expertise for finding the exact products and trades-people you need will get you the best results for your project. working with an interior designer will help you to move seamlessly and economically through the project, as well as help prevent costly mistakes.

lastly, most interior designers get personally attached to every project. even though they are designing for the client, the process is similar to an artist creating a portrait. when the portrait is completed, it will be sold, but a piece of the artist is left behind each time. as interior designers, we’re creating a “living space” or “work space” that will be comfortable for you. that’s why it is so important to us that we get it right.

what is a design budget?

budget is not what you hope it will cost. budget is what you actually have to spend. your “total budget” is the amount you have to invest on your project. your “spending budget” is your total budget less the “design fees” charged by the designer. the spending budget is what the designer will actually use to complete your project.  ask yourself, how much do I actually want to spend?

what is a design fee and how is it calculated?

the design fee is for design concepts, solutions to the problems, and advice on any purchases.

it is extremely difficult to put flat fees on most projects because no two projects are the same. that’s why most designers, us included, charge hourly. however, sometimes for smaller jobs, we charge a simple flat design fee depending on the scope of work.

the design fee covers such actions as:

  • schematics, space planning, lighting design, architectural drawings, furnishings and finish selections
  • preparation of estimates and purchasing
  • coordination with contractors, architects and installers
  • subsequent consultations with the client and suppliers
  • researching sources for materials or products
  • overall project management and overseeing installations

what is it like working with an interior designer?

we understand your design project is an investment in both time and money. it can be very stressful. it is our job to alleviate that stress but we need your support and cooperation. working with a designer is like any relationship – the chemistry must be right.  all good relationships is a process that requires continuous conversation.

if you don’t like the ideas we come up with, or dislike the design all together, tell us. there won’t be any hurt feelings. In order for the process to work you must:

  • TRUST US – we have your best interest in mind
  • SPEAK UP – we don’t know unless you tell us
  • BE OPEN TO SUGGESTIONS – hiring an interior designer does not necessarily mean relinquishing total control. it does, however, require having an open mind to professional suggestions and solutions.
  • VALUE THE PROCESS – realize that good design takes time. it can take months, even years. you see the value in bringing in a professional, leave it to us to manage the project.

what are freight and delivery fees?

freight and delivery fees apply when ordering furnishings, fabrics, and or accessories. these fees are passed on to the client at no additional markup. freight fees are billed by the weight and the per lb. cost can vary by carrier. fyi-retailers roll this cost into your purchase price to make it seem as if their giving you something free when they really aren’t.

what is an initial design consultation?

there is often an initial consultation between the client and designer where the designer comes on-site to discuss in detail the clients goals, the problem areas to be addressed, timelines as well as the spending budget for the project. when budgeting for your project, designer fees are always separate and apart from your spending budget.

this is a get-to-know you and your project meeting and in the case of OUR company, a critical part of the overall success of a project. discussion on various topics such as the client’s job, family, pets, and regular recreational activities helps enormously with getting to understand the client’s personality and lifestyle, which in turn helps with creating a space that is perfect for them. you should not expect any design direction or relevant design information, its main purpose is for the designer to gather the necessary information in order to present a formal proposal for your project.

the consultation will take approximately 1 hour and the fee is $150 (payable upon conclusion of the consultation).   the charging of a fee for an initial consultation is necessary for the services provided, time spent, and insurance for the designer should the client decide not to move forward. should the client decide to contract our services, we credit the consultation fee towards the design package (depending on the size of the project this may not be applicable).  so in a sense, the design consultation IS free.

after our initial meeting, we present a letter of agreement, where we describe the services to be provided, the design fees associated with the project, and the schedule of payments required, etc. after you sign that, we get started.

what should I do to prepare for our first meeting?

  • collect ideas and photos of spaces and items that appeal to you.
  • know what you want to accomplish, what the design should do for you when finished
  • establish a time frame in which you would like to work
  • have a budget in mind and be honest about it with your designer.