In today’s Interior Design landscape, there’s a great deal of free advice out there. My blog (and hundreds of other blogs) is free. Pinterest is free. Houzz is free. Asking questions of Houzz designers is free. Major furniture chains (like Ethan Allen) have designer services that are free. All free and available at your fingertips on your computer with a few simple search terms - ready to help you redesign your home’s interior.
So you need to ask yourself three critical questions:
Well, it’s a bit of a consumer nightmare out there, sorting out the free wheat from the free chaff….and the sorting requires lots of time and energy spent by you! Which brings me to the following list about design fees:
Why paying a design fee for a specific project is good for you:
For all these reasons, I have developed a design process that has served my clients extremely well over the past 17 years (see the “Client Journey: How We Work Together” page). And that process includes having my clients pay a design fee up front based on a clear understanding between the client (you) and the designer (me) on the scope of the project and what the client will get for that design fee (e.g. photographic renderings, fabric swatches, wallcovering samples, paint selections, pricing, time estimates, etc.,). As a client of any service, don’t you want to know what you are going to get, how it’s going to look and what it’s going to cost? Of course you do!
I can think of many instances in my own personal life where I’ve paid an up-front “design fee” to start a project out on the right footing. For example, when we were first married we moved to Colorado, purchased a new home and paid a landscape architect to draw up a detailed landscaping design. Frankly, we had no clue on the trees and shrubs that grew in Colorado’s climate, and it would have been way too laborious and inefficient for us to research it ourselves. That’s what you hire any professional for, right? With the landscaping plans we paid for we could make informed decisions on what we were going to do and when. We ended up using that architect’s landscaping company for the major initial work and did many of the smaller jobs ourselves on a time phased approach. We were happy that we had the structure of the architect’s design plan to guide us on the overall project, the costs and the time phasing. Similarly, years ago we paid an investment advisor to perform a comprehensive financial review and design a retirement plan, with no risk of him selling us specific investment products that were more financially rewarding for him than they were for us. We were seeking a high-quality, objective and informed professional opinion. To get that we paid a design fee to the investment advisor, and therefore spent time specifying our needs and paid attention to, and placed value on the plan that he developed. And it’s no different with a professional Interior Designer (except Interior Design projects are way more fun!)
So now I’m going to make a statement that will probably make you wince: “Nobody values decorating advice they don’t pay for.” Yes, it’s true. Free decorating advice from the internet is valued as much as asking your mother-in-law, sister, best friend, or pet. Harsh words, but it’s true! We value what we pay for…….maybe it’s because we have to invest our time in doing the research to find the right person to pay for advice. Think about it! When was the last time you took professional advice that came for free from a Doctor, Lawyer or Plumber?
In my opinion, if you have a significant decorating project you need interior design help and advice, and you probably know it. The good news is that this help can be extremely beneficial in terms of money and time spent, and in the happiness that comes from getting it right the first time! As a designer who charges a design fee I can assure you that doing this aligns us and makes sure that I have your unique goals and interests at heart. I can help, and you will be amazed at what we can accomplish together! Call me at 978-440-7264 so that we can get started on the project that you keep putting off.
Barbara Phillips, interior designer and owner of Center Stage Interior Designs, has delivered impeccable window treatments and design services to both residential and commercial clients in Massachusetts since 2001.