I wanted to try and get away from high-end luxury design for a post or two because let’s face it – only a very very small percentage can afford it. My favorite part of design is being able to transform someone’s life by changing the space in which they live in. I think everyone should have access to do this or at least have a chance to do it.
Most of my friends have furnished their starter homes with the likes of Pottery Barn or other large retail corporations. I understand the hype of places like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel. They are convenient and most people don’t know where else to go. They also spend millions of dollars on marketing campaigns to get you to love them. But let’s face it – those retail stores are not cheap (except for IKEA which is an amazing place), not that high in quality, and create a very general mass produced look. So the question begins – where else can I go to buy furniture and how can I afford to hire a designer?
First off, designers have access to trade only vendors and get a discount at most of the retail corporate chains. The designer will purchase the furniture for you by using their trade account. Secondly, no job is too small for a lot of young designers I know. Every job is an opportunity that can lead to bigger and better opportunities down the road. Furthermore, design is a passion and becomes a part of our lives and helps to define us. New projects provide an outlet and are exciting to take on. And finally, the client is the one to set the budget.
Most designers I know make a commission from a percentage of the decorative products before shipping and tax. Usually it’s anywhere between 25%-35%. So, if you want a sofa that is $3,000, the designer just made $900 if they were using a 30% commission fee. BUT… designers get furniture at net pricing NOT retail. And net pricing usually is discounted 30% from retail. Therefore, you are paying the same amount you normally would for a sofa BUT you have an interior designer doing all the work for you. If you were to build a new home and hired a designer to do all the construction drawings and specifications then you would pay a design fee usually based on an hourly rate. And then on top of that you would also pay the designer the commission as discussed above for any decorative items.
To put the above into context I’ll describe a project of mine from the past. An extremely nice couple hired me a couple of years ago to redo their living room. They, like a lot of people were wary of the design process and seemed apologetic over their small space. However, I was happy to help and excited to start the process with them. They had a relatively small budget for everything they wanted, which included new custom cabinetry to house the television and a new sofa. I was to keep within the budget and provide the following: painted walls, custom cabinetry, sofa, sconces, window treatments, ottoman, two armchairs, a floor lamp, a tray, and two pillows.
I’m going to break down what goes into a job this size. It’s a lot different from designing an entire house but gratifying all the same. First I met the client at their home to see the space and to see what their needs and wants were. I then drafted them a floor plan as well as the cabinetry drawing to show my design concept.
After walking them through the space I presented the furniture and fabric ideas. Once I received approval and payment I created purchase orders and millwork drawings for the custom cabinet. The orders get sent. In the time between ordering and delivery (usually 8-12 weeks) I’m working with the vendors making sure the orders went through and ironing out any details such as making sure the fabrics are delivered to the correct vendor, and that the custom pieces are ok. Also in that time the living room gets painted, and the millwork, drapery and sconces all get installed. When the rest of the pieces are complete I’m trying to coordinate the deliveries so they land pretty much at the same time. The best way to install a job is to ask the clients to leave for the day (or week in some cases) so when they come back they walk into a brand new room. The looks on their faces are priceless and for me that’s the best moment of the job.
Hopefully this post helped some of you. You just have to be firm on your budget and communicate with your designer with what you want and what you are expecting. If you’re still intimidated to hire a designer and really want one – message me! I’m more than happy to try and help answer any questions you may have.