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Kristin in Portland, Oregon

77 months ago

senior designer in small town in Newnan, Georgia said: I have been a designer since 1994. I work for a small town firm that does residential and commercial design. We also have a retail showroom. Our design fee is based on an hourly rate. We order our products-fabric, furniture,etc.- directly from the sources that we have set up wholesale accounts with through our retail business. Our standard operations include charging a design fee for planning and then charging about 30% off retail for product since we get the product at "wholesale"; therefore, we make money on the fee end and then, stop the clock for purchasing and make money from mark up on the materials end (while not charging for time to do the purchasing, etc.). The problem is, now that costs have become so transparent due to the internet and with all of the discount fabric stores, etc., our "wholesale" prices are close to retail prices at these discount establishments. We can't compete with this! And we are losing business! We would love to have all high end clients and not have to worry about this but it is just not the case. We work with many budgets and must stay competitive.
My question is, how are people charging these days? I am thinking about dissolving our retail business completely because it is tanking. If I do, what type of mark can I put on merchandise that I purchase at "to the trade" or other establishments and still attract customers.
Thanks for any input you can offer!

I offer specific services to clients, an overall design package fee to the client for design service to plan space, design, specify or shop and make catalog recommendations. I have another package for archtectual drawings.

It is unfortunate that we have not been better protected by our professional organizations. Our significant purpose however is to assist the client by better space planning, experience in budgeting, and material selection. We charge for this or go to work for a furniture store.

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Kevin in Boston, Massachusetts

77 months ago

I went to school for interior design and have a lot of experience working on real client design projects, but I am struggling with the 'business' side of the design business and I would really appreciate some concrete advice/answers. I just seem to be working and not making money so I get frustrated with the clients and then myself for under-valuing my time and work and then everything tanks.

I know all the different ways designers charge (I like either the hourly ($75/hr) + mark-up (20%) or flat fee models). But what I would like to know from more experienced and successful designers is what is reasonable in terms of: How long should it take me to do specific tasks and complete projects? How much should I expect to earn (on average) for each type of project (typical type of projects, even though I understand every client/project have their own needs & budgets).

Example: "I want to re-do my master bedroom or living room." Should this take me 10 hours or 40 hours? How many weeks or months? How many client meetings? How much avg. should I expect to earn (regardless of fee method)?

Example: Just bought a condo and need everything done?
Example: Want custom window treatments for 1 room?
Example: Need help accessorizing?
Example: Just need help with picking paint colors?
Example: Re-do a kitchen: floor plans, specifications, everything?

Also, do you set minimums for working with clients? And do you charge for travel time (I spend a lot of time going to and from clients, stores, showrooms and I have not brought myself to bill them for this time)?

Thank you in advance for your guidance. I appreciate your thoughtful replies.

Thank you,
Kevin

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Trina Miller in Plymouth, Michigan

72 months ago

The best and only way to work with clients are these two options. First and foremost ask them what they are intending to spend on the room.
Both of these options are fair.

#1. Charge hourly, $100.00 (usually a dining room will take approx. 40 hours.)
#2. Show your client what everything is going to cost (your cost) and charge a 20% fee for your services.

For example: The dining room cost total with paint, furniture, lighting, drapes, a rug and some framed prints $24,000.00 taking 30% you would make $4,800.00

option #2. The dining room takes 40 hours of time for space planning, ordering materials, ect. you would make $4,000.00

My point is if the Client is only planning on spending $10,000. on her diningroom you absolutley have to charge hourly. It is time consuming; searching
for a dining room set a rug ect. for $10,000. not to mention you would do all that work for 20% No thanks! you would only make $2,000.00

If I was certain every week I would have a $10,000. room to work on then I would be fine making $2,000.00 a week why not? It's $8,000.00 a month total anual income $96,000. a year opps forgot to decuct that 33% tax to the Government. I take that back It would end up being a poor $64,320.00 Wow, What happens after November? We would only make around $45 thousand a year. Maybe we should stick to the hourly rate. I think I'll just move out of the country. ha ha

Of course not every week do we have Clients ordering $70,000. kitchens. We also have weeks on end where we are ordering a sofa.
It all works out in the end.

I hope this was helpful. My husband is a Custom Home Builder and does a lot of his pricing by the sq. ft.

Remember we spent so much time educating ourselves, internships.... for years, continuing education with ASID. Not to metnion it's your profession. You deserve it.

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Trina Miller in Plymouth, Michigan

72 months ago

The best and only way to work with clients are these two options. First and foremost ask them what they are intending to spend on the room.
Both of these options are fair.

#1. Charge hourly, $100.00 (usually a dining room will take approx. 40 hours.)
#2. Show your client what everything is going to cost (your cost) and charge a 20% fee for your services.

For example: The dining room cost total with paint, furniture, lighting, drapes, a rug and some framed prints $24,000.00 taking 20% you would make $4,800.00

option #2. The dining room takes 40 hours of time for space planning, ordering materials, ect. you would make $4,000.00

My point is if the Client is only planning on spending $10,000. on her diningroom you absolutley have to charge hourly. It is time consuming; searching
for a dining room set a rug ect. for $10,000. Not to mention you would do all that work for 20% No thanks! you would only make $2,000.00

If I was certain every week I would have a $10,000. room to work on then I would be fine making $2,000.00 a week why not? It's $8,000.00 a month total anual income $96,000. a year. opps... forgot to decuct that 33% tax to the Government. I take that back It would end up being a poor $64,320.00 Wow, What happens after November? We would only make around $45 thousand a year. Maybe we should stick to the hourly rate. I think I'll just move out of the country. ha ha

Of course not every week do we have Clients ordering $70,000. kitchens. We also have weeks on end where we are ordering a sofa, or a set of blinds, possible weeks we have no work.
It all works out in the end.

I hope this was helpful. My husband is a Custom Home Builder and does a lot of his pricing by the sq. ft.

Remember we spent so much time educating ourselves, internships.... for years, continuing education with ASID. Not to metnion it's your profession. You deserve it.

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Trina Miller in Plymouth, Michigan

72 months ago

The best and only way to work with clients are these two options. First and foremost ask them what they are intending to spend on the room.
Both of these options are fair.

#1. Charge hourly, $100.00 (usually a dining room will take approx. 40 hours.)
#2. Show your client what everything is going to cost (your cost) and charge a 20% fee for your services.

For example: The dining room cost total with paint, furniture, lighting, drapes, a rug and some framed prints $24,000.00 taking 20% you would make $4,800.00

option #2. The dining room takes 40 hours of time for space planning, ordering materials, ect. you would make $4,000.00

My point is if the Client is only planning on spending $10,000. on her diningroom you absolutley have to charge hourly. It is time consuming; searching
for a dining room set a rug ect. for $10,000. Not to mention you would do all that work for 20% No thanks! you would only make $2,000.00

If I was certain every week I would have a $10,000. room to work on then I would be fine making $2,000.00 a week why not? It's $8,000.00 a month total anual income $96,000. a year. opps... forgot to decuct that 33% tax to the Government. I take that back It would end up being a poor $64,320.00 Wow, What happens after November? We would only make around $45 thousand a year. Maybe we should stick to the hourly rate. I think I'll just move out of the country. ha ha

Of course not every week do we have Clients ordering $70,000. kitchens. We also have weeks on end where we are ordering a sofa, or a set of blinds, possible weeks we have no work.
It all works out in the end.

I hope this was helpful. My husband is a Custom Home Builder and does a lot of his pricing by the sq. ft.

Remember we spent so much time educating ourselves, internships.... for years, continuing education with ASID. Not to metnion it's your profession. You deserve it.

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maplebee in Bend, Oregon

71 months ago

I've just moved to a smaller community and am working on a small residential project. In my previous city, I worked on larger projects and specified furniture to be purchased by a purchasing company - so time was easier to estimate. My new client is vague about her budget, I'm not sure how to structure the contract. Usually I do a flat fee for design and specifying, then a separate contract for the project management if necessary during construction.

Should I charge a flat fee for space planning and finish selection (paints, tile, etc) and a markup on the furniture? My concern is this is a new client and I don't know how indecisive she'll be about the furniture. She is hesitant to go hourly because she worked that way with another designer and costs got out of control. If I charge cost plus for furniture, will this typically cover one's time shopping, selecting and coordinating delivery?

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LDS in Smyrna, Tennessee

65 months ago

I worked for a homebuilder and was laid off in January, so now I'm trying to build up my own business with design work. And I'm also struggling to figure out how to charge people as every job is so different.
The homebuilder that I worked for is still contracting me for small jobs here and there. They have asked what I would charge to furnish a new model home. While I worked for them, I sketched a furniture layout and also did a preliminary budget for all. So now, my question is, what would you suggest I charge for furnishing it now that I am not employed by them? An hourly shopping fee? Then an hourly install fee for the days I'm installing and accessorizing? Any comments would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks!

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Jane Gully in Memphis, Tennessee

45 months ago

I have been freelancing for 13 years, although I've been in the business for about 19. I have a degree in interior design and do a lot of renovation design as well as interior decorating. As I read a comment earlier on this posting, it really is tough when you have the internet to compete with.

I don't have a store or any employees so there's no overhead which allows me to sell high quality for less. When I'm drawing plans, consulting with contractors, I charge by the hour, and when it comes to decorating I sell the merchandise to the client. My money is made from the profit of the sale. However,if the client wants me to shop for a better deal, then I go on the clock. But how do you charge when the client finds a resource (online shopping, a "friend" who can get it for them cheaper) on their own, and then they want your stamp of approval on what they've picked out? Most of the time, if it comes to that, then they get a bill for my time. This is hard. What do you do?

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BFEE

45 months ago

AGREE....MOST CERTAINLY CHARGE FOR YOUR TIME....

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Trina Dobreff-Miller in Naples, Florida

45 months ago

BFEE said: AGREE....MOST CERTAINLY CHARGE FOR YOUR TIME....

Depending on the size of the job, I feel you should charge a flat fee up front. My clients are also online shopping themselves. Because they are doing the research themselves this may be the only way for you to make a profit. The part that bothers me is that they can't get a Designer's discount.
Just to let you know, Service Magic is looking for Interior Designers, I am thinking about going with them myself.
I worked for a Custom Home Builder for 7 years, because of the economy I am really struggling. Good luck and charge a flat fee from the beginning.

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Jane Gully in Memphis, Tennessee

45 months ago

What is Service Magic? I've never heard of it.

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Trina Dobreff-Miller in Naples, Florida

45 months ago

Service Magic is a company that I use to hire contractors. You can join and get jobs through this company, you need an LLC to get started. Look it up online. I have had excellent service using them. I have hired contractors for carpet, window treatments, granite, ect...
How it works is someone will contact Service Magic and ask for an Interior Designer. Your information will come up with a few other Designers, you will receive a text and email from the client and then you contact the client right away. The Client can interview 3 other Designers to choose from.
Right now, their is a high need for Interior Designers. They phone me every week to join. I just have not had the time to do anything but work on this one paticular job. However, around Thanksgiving I will contact them. I know they get a very small percentage of either the job or a fee. I know it's not much because the contractors I have hired have not only exceeded my expectations but have been extremley reasonably priced.
Good Luck. I live in Michigan now, but I believe they have them throughout the United States. I think it's really worth it.

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Jane Gully in Memphis, Tennessee

45 months ago

That's good to know. I have a pretty good client base and I have been involved in quite a few good renovations. My reputation is good, however, the renovation business here in Memphis is awfully slow these days. Seriously, I'd much rather do that kind of design then to peddle furniture and all that other stuff. I have considered having a sign made to put in the clients' yards when they're under heavy construction. I know one designer who does what I do, and I hear her name buzz all over town.

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cindy greene in Easton, Pennsylvania

43 months ago

Trina Miller in Plymouth, Michigan said: The best and only way to work with clients are these two options. First and foremost ask them what they are intending to spend on the room.
Both of these options are fair.

#1. Charge hourly, $100.00 (usually a dining room will take approx. 40 hours.)
#2. Show your client what everything is going to cost (your cost) and charge a 20% fee for your services.

For example: The dining room cost total with paint, furniture, lighting, drapes, a rug and some framed prints $24,000.00 taking 30% you would make $4,800.00

option #2. The dining room takes 40 hours of time for space planning, ordering materials, ect. you would make $4,000.00

My point is if the Client is only planning on spending $10,000. on her diningroom you absolutley have to charge hourly. It is time consuming; searching
for a dining room set a rug ect. for $10,000. not to mention you would do all that work for 20% No thanks! you would only make $2,000.00

If I was certain every week I would have a $10,000. room to work on then I would be fine making $2,000.00 a week why not? It's $8,000.00 a month total anual income $96,000. a year opps forgot to decuct that 33% tax to the Government. I take that back It would end up being a poor $64,320.00 Wow, What happens after November? We would only make around $45 thousand a year. Maybe we should stick to the hourly rate. I think I'll just move out of the country. ha ha

Of course not every week do we have Clients ordering $70,000. kitchens. We also have weeks on end where we are ordering a sofa.
It all works out in the end.

I hope this was helpful. My husband is a Custom Home Builder and does a lot of his pricing by the sq. ft.

Remember we spent so much time educating ourselves, internships.... for years, continuing education with ASID. Not to metnion it's your profession. You deserve it.

You were very helpful and funny. Moving could be easier! Things can only go up

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Sky in Alexandria, Virginia

43 months ago

Excellent answer. And if I might add...Because business IS up and down over the course of a year AND there are administrative costs to doing business -- the time we can't bill for directly, such as preparing invoices and taxes, paying bills, trips to the office supply store, updating our computers and websites, marketing, networking, talking to prospects and advertising, etc. ...all those hats we wear in our own business... -- AND sole proprietorship taxes take a 30% chunk of our earnings, we must charge what supports the cost of staying viable all year round. Otherwise, how can we be there for clients when they need us? If we charge an amount that means our business teeters on the brink then we aren't doing the client any favors, because such a state undermines our focus.

My experience is that once taxes and other costs of doing business are taken out I am left with 50% of what I charged. If business is down seasonally and intermittent weeks aren't booked during the rest of the year, then that 50% has to sustain the business during those times as well. Only folks who are unaware of the time and costs of running a business (or haven't run the numbers) would look at $100 an hour as excessive. It is, in my opinion, the minimum viable charge! If you only have business coming in 32 of the 52 weeks of a year, it may not be enough to sustain the business.

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Meng Lee Chin in Katy, Texas

39 months ago

Trina, Hi! It was really nice of you to be specific about your fee. Great that you sharing openly. Ya know, most designers are so stingy with sharing info.

I was wondering do you really spend 40 hour on a dinning room design? It was be a pretty luxurous one!

I myself am going out on my own again once I move back to L.A. so trying to figured out how much I should charge. I am a commercial and hospitality designer - as you know the fee is per square foot, and per personnel level. Anyway, the residential designer in L.A. I get the feeling they are charging alot, one of them almost pay me $125/hr just to draft up a set of drawings - which I though were unheard of.

Anyway, just want to say is great you sharing you standard fee structure.

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Meng in Katy, Texas

39 months ago

Trina, I just wanted to catch up with you to find out how your work flow has been since 5 months ago when you mentioned service magic. Are you still getting interior projects from them?

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sheny in Irvine, California

39 months ago

I need help in how to put in paper the details after interviewing with a future client (their portfolio. Should I put in one piece of paper, or one topic per paper, etc etc.

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Soniya in Bronxville, New York

36 months ago

Hi, I am very new to this form of discussion forum. I read the previous thread of this discussion. I am facing a similar situation. I till recently used to work for a high end interior design firm in the city, but left the job when I had my babies. Now I am trying to start my own business, but find myself terrified every time I have to submit a proposal as I am so scared of pricing myself out of the job. I feel I end up charging inadequately and spend too much time, that it feels disproportionate - the job and the fee. Because I recently bought a house and completely renovated my kitchen I seem to be getting a lot of interest for Kitchen redesign. Can anybody tell me the best way to charge for a kitchen, as I will not be selling any products only presenting the layouts, optimal organization best suited for the client and ofcourse recommend materials for the design presented? Also after the presentation of the design and material selection do kitchen designers charge any fees for the time spent making sure the contractors are following the plans and if the cabinets are being installed as planned??
My apologies for such a long winded question, I am very new at this ;)
Thanks for reading. Your responses, will not only be greatly appreciated but also very very helpful.

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Ellen in Avalon, New Jersey

36 months ago

Hello, As a part-time clerk in an interior design showroom, I get contacts for design work. Is there a standard practice for a percentage of the profit that I should share from these jobs with the owner of the showroom? Thanks!

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Trina Dobreff-Miller in Naples, Florida

36 months ago

Hello from Michigan,

It is very important to speak with the Interior firm your with.
Does it say any where that you are not going to do independant work if you work for this Company?

If you are able to work independently, yes indeed you should give the Company a percentage. They indroduced you into this career.

Just know you have Integrity, you could have done these projects on your own and not tell your boss, yet you didn't. You are an excellent person!

I feel you should at least pay 10% (try that first) If not you may have to offer them more.

I hope this helps. Good job, I have no work right now here in Michigan!

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Ellen in Avalon, New Jersey

36 months ago

Thanks, I do work independently. Is anyone else in this situation? Thanks!

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montclair nj in Clifton, New Jersey

36 months ago

Hi all the interior designers in NJ and NY! I make wonderful window treatments: drapes, roman shades, valances in my own home. Very high end fabrics, artistic eye, quality work, 12 years experience and very friendly prices for my work. e-mail me: rumsiskes11@gmail.com
You can safe tons of money if you come to me instead of using expensive drape workrooms.
Thanks

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Donna

36 months ago

I am moving into a VERY high end 10,000 square foot home. What should I budget for furnishing the home, accessories(lamps, art,rugs etc.) and for the designer? We like unique products and do not mind paying for quality. Just needing a ball park figure to estimate the cost.

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cindy@greeneinteriors.com in Easton, Pennsylvania

36 months ago

I would budget 10 percent or for the 10,000 square foot homes I have done, we can spend as little as a thousand for a guest room to numerous thousands for a high impact great room! I design with a mix of high and low. Spend the dollars where it counts. I also believe a room will be far more interesting when creating a mix so it has personality that reflects it's owners. It is better in my opinion to pay a designer by the hour and have them pass the discounts they receive to you. greeneinteriors.com

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Jill dover in Boston, Massachusetts

35 months ago

I have A Question that I would be glad to have some kind of an answer - I am starting an internship in a kitchen design company. Right now I'm just learning their software, But i'm supposed to start design their kitchens in the near future as a free lancer.
How much should I charge for just designing the kitchen in the software? should it be per hour? or per job?

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PYC in Cary, North Carolina

35 months ago

Hello, I would love some input as to what is perceived in this market as reasonable compensation when working with builders. They are no doubt struggling and IMO the recession will not be over until the housing industry is revived. That being said.....this is my livlihood and not a hobby. When I am approached by a builder they seem to expect me to work for pennies and make my money down the road in working with the homeowner with interior furnishings etc:All comments welcome.

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astoundsteve in Brentwood, United Kingdom

35 months ago

This is a very good question often asked by the public as well. Unfortunately most people do not understand what time goes in to specifying products for a home, nightclub, bar, restaurant or hotel. Firstly the room has to be measured & drawn up correctly to ascertain what space there is to play with and what will fit inside that space and on a commercial basis what has to fit in that space by law from the local authority e.g. disabled toilets, correct amount of toilets, etc,

Then there is the back and forth to the client showing them your ideas and tweaking designs until they are happy. Then when they are happy, you then have to hit the phones and email all your suppliers purchasing everything on the schedule, its then a matter of letting the client know when these items will be delivered and tying it in with the contractors who you have had to show around the premises to gather the correct information so you have confirmed costings on the build.

Then there is the project management of the build or the supply of fixture, fittings, Furniture & equipment.

All of this takes a long time and working on a very small percentage on the supplying is commercial suicide. At astounding Interior design Int. we price each project based on what time its going to take us to do all these things and more. Here is a link to what else we do for our clients. www.astoundinginteriors.co.uk/how-it-all-works

You also need to take in account who is working on the project and the business trading costs. I suggest doing a cash-flow forecast for the year and try to ascertain how many projects you will get that year and to what value (budget) they will be.

This will then give you a better understanding of what you need to be charging the client for design consultation and what mark up is needed on the products specified. Also do not give the clients any information on who YOUR suppliers are. eg. product codes.

Hope this helps. Steve Ward Astounding Interior Design.

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astoundsteve in Brentwood, United Kingdom

35 months ago

This is a very good question often asked by the public as well. Unfortunately most people do not understand what time goes in to specifying products for a home, nightclub, bar, restaurant or hotel. Firstly the room has to be measured & drawn up correctly to ascertain what space there is to play with and what will fit inside that space and on a commercial basis what has to fit in that space by law from the local authority e.g. disabled toilets, correct amount of toilets, etc,

Then there is the back and forth to the client showing them your ideas and tweaking designs until they are happy. Then when they are happy, you then have to hit the phones and email all your suppliers purchasing everything on the schedule, its then a matter of letting the client know when these items will be delivered and tying it in with the contractors who you have had to show around the premises to gather the correct information so you have confirmed costings on the build.

Then there is the project management of the build or the supply of fixture, fittings, Furniture & equipment.

All of this takes a long time and working on a very small percentage on the supplying is commercial suicide. At astounding Interior design Int. we price each project based on what time its going to take us to do all these things and more. Here is a link to what else we do for our clients www.astoundinginteriors.co.uk/how-it-all-works

You also need to take in account who is working on the project and the business trading costs. I suggest doing a cash-flow forecast for the year and try to ascertain how many projects you will get that year and to what value (budget) they will be.

This will then give you a better understanding of what you need to be charging the client for design consultation and what mark up is needed on the products specified. Also do not give the clients any information on who YOUR suppliers are. eg. product codes.

Hope this helps. Steve Ward Astounding Interior Design.

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new business owner in Miami, Florida

35 months ago

Hello! I am starting a residential interior design business in Miami, Florida in the coming months and would like some advice on what to charge.

I have 2 degrees in architecture and interior design and have 5 yrs. of work experience. I will be working from home and on my own (no employees) so I won't have many overhead expenses. I mostly want to do projects in the mid-range (for example someone willing to spend $20,000 on a living room) so I cannot charge too much otherwise I will not get those clients. I am also considering charging only a fixed fee and no markup, passing along my designer discounts. Is this a good strategy to get lower budget clients? What should be my minimum fixed fee for, say, a living room? Especially since I won't be charging a markup? And what is appropriate for my level of education/experience?

Also, should I start with a low "introductory" fee for the first year and then raise it to a more standard rate? I am starting this business for many reasons, but money is not 1 of them. I only want to be able to live off the business and earn enough to have some kind of profit.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks,
Alejandra

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Robin in Brooklyn, New York

35 months ago

Hi. I have a lot less education and work experience than you do and have been struggling with the exact same issues. I've wound up regretting it when I didn't charge commissions, as it seems I can't make any money otherwise. Also, placing and managing the orders can be very time-consuming. Good luck with your business!

Robin

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astoundingsteve in London, United Kingdom

35 months ago

Good reply Robin !!

Alejandra I think you need to do some research on your competition and do a cashflow forecast for your own personal sake. It's not easy signing up clients so the ones you do have you need to make money from to survive unless you want to start an interior design charity for rich folk.!!!!

Also you need to think about taxes and PAYE also who are your suppliers going to be are you opening trade accounts with all different suppliers, if so what are the payment terms you will get and what are you going to offer your clients. Are you going to be making them sign a contract outling your services ?

Send me your portfolio and we can have a chat over email.

Steve www.astoundinginteriors.co.uk

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bridget in Fort Worth, Texas

35 months ago

I am looking to start a career in interior redesign and staging. I will like to know is QC INTERIOR DECORATING school is where I should get my degree? Do anyone has any suggestions where I could go and get recognized for it? This has been my passion and now its time for me to get paid for what enjoy doing. Will someone please guide me in the right direction. I am very anxious to get started!

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Amanda www.designworxnz.co.nz in Auckland, New Zealand

34 months ago

It seems to me that this is a universal conversation that we even have down-under... in New Zealand. We are working hard with the Designers Institute of New Zealand to have benchmarks for the public with fees and contracts so that we can educate the public about the realistic time it takes to pay attention to interior detail, and get it right!! We are a professional body with years of experience. Back yourselves first, and then educate the clients.

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Erin

33 months ago

Hi there,

Many of the comments I have read have been very helpful and insightful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

I work for a retail space that offers interior design services. We struggle with our fees all of the time and I think that some people have been turned off by our menu of services - especially our initial consultation fee which is a bit high. May I ask what most of you are charging for an initial consultation fee where you are going to a client's home, surveying the space, etc.? Thanks for any additional insight you may have.

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new business owner in Miami, Florida

33 months ago

Hi everyone,

Thank you to all who commented on my post. I still don't have a clear idea of what my fees should be as I start my business. Do you all think that a flat fee for decorating services is a good idea to bring in budget-conscious clients? I was thinking to charge a flat fee (with services spelled out in a letter of agreement/contract) and no markup. Has anyone out there done this?

Erin - Many designers don't charge an initial consultation fee as it is a kind of "interview" for you as well as your client. Its the time to decide whether you both want to work together or not so it seems a bit unfair to charge for that initial meeting. I think I would try to keep it to an hour and not give any design ideas but merely talk to the client, get a feel for what services they need from you, and explain to them about your process, etc. Then you can go back to your office and decide if you want to take on the project. If you do, then you start charging for your time and at that point survey the space, gather photos, furniture dimensions, etc.

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Erin

33 months ago

Thank you for your feedback. You are confirming what I have been thinking all along.
Now it is a matter of addressing this with the owner.

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amanda in Johannesburg, South Africa

33 months ago

hi everyone

all comments were very helpful and have given me the confidence to utilise my skills in interior design and make money as well,because I was fearful of charging clients,hence me giving out advice free of charge

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Hope G. in Kapolei, Hawaii

32 months ago

bridget in Fort Worth, Texas said: I am looking to start a career in interior redesign and staging. I will like to know is QC INTERIOR DECORATING school is where I should get my degree? Do anyone has any suggestions where I could go and get recognized for it? This has been my passion and now its time for me to get paid for what enjoy doing. Will someone please guide me in the right direction. I am very anxious to get started!

Don't go through a "decorating" program. Texas has liscensing requirements, so don't rush things. Besides, business is way down, so now is a good time to invest in the education and credentials if funds are available for this. Architects don't generally take decorators very seriously. I worked for an architect who did staging, so from my experience, get at least a bachelors in interior design, although a degree in architecture will give you more "chops" in the market these days.

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Elizabeth in Melbourne, Australia

32 months ago

I have been reading this forum with much interest and feel there is some great advice being given and ceratinly has helped me with my initial enquiry. I too am a Interior designer, I have a Bachelor of Design in Interior Design and just wanted to add that this is a highyl sort qualificationa dn should not be compared to that of an Architects which is a different qulaification and not considered more "chops" as the last commenter 'Hope from Hawaii' stated. It's a negative message to send out there that an Interior Design qualification is inferior to and Architects qualification but as this is not what the forum question is about I'll save this discussion for another time.

However I wanted to add my thoughts on 'Charging out for initail consultation'. I believe you should charge for the initial consultation. Why? you ask, well this initital meeting with your prospective client should be seen as an appointment to which you have been asked for your expertise on how best they approach their job/brief. In the first consultation you at least spend 2 hours with the client. You are a professional with experience, why should you be free?
I always let my potential clients know that there is an intial consultation fee and I feel if they are serious they never question this.Be conifdent that they are interested in you and what you have to say, that you are qualified to advise the client and that your time is worth a payment.
I'm still working out my fee structure as I go along but I am very clear on two aspects on charging out. An initial consultation fee and an hour fee. It's then very clear cut to you and your potential client. I hope this helps.

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Amanda www.designworxnz.co.nz in Auckland, New Zealand

32 months ago

I too charge an intitial consultation fee at my hourly rate. I am very clear about this and am pleased to hear you are doing the same in Melbourne!
We have valuable IP and design relevant information which gets discussed at this intial meeting in relation to the scope of work. The client gets value for money and the opportunity to view the design in a way that they may not previously have considered. I beleive we should all be charging for this initial meeting time- our time has value and should not be for free.

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Lisa in Dayton, Ohio

32 months ago

I charge a consultation fee as well. I didn't use to charge one, but found that my passion sometimes exceeds me and design ideas come out without my compensation. However, I do offer the client to take it off of the bill at the end of the project if they sign with me.

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Linda in Jacksonville, Florida

30 months ago

I think it is interesting that across the globe designers have the same problem charging for their time especially their intial consultation. I today's market it seems that design is a luxury and jobs are few and far between.

I am a kitchen designer and sell product also. There is so many people giving designs out for nothing and as many as five bids for each kitchen. We have been surviving but that is about it right now. Business is up from this time last year but I am considering leaving the industry after ten years.

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Tiffany, www.youandyourdecor.com in Lake Villa, Illinois

30 months ago

Hello All,

I wanted to answer the initial posters question. I am a self taught designer, and is known for offering an "affordable option to interior design." However do not get my rates twisted, and think that I do not make my budget. The word affordable is perceived because I charge a flat rate, based on the fact that people are hesitant to pay a designer hourly with no cap. I charge what is called a Value Based Fee. It is a flat fee for my design services and specifications with the option to have me shop for them.

With my packages, I offer a set number of trips to the home, and one revision to the design plan. My packages are for those that would like to do a majority of the work on their own.

If they would like more detailed, custom design work, I still charge a flat value based fee. I base this on square footage, distance, my hours estimated, and the scope of work. Having a cap to your work actually gives me peace of mind and it helps me budget my monthly expenses, etc. For purchasing, I have a separate contract that I charge a mark up on what I specified, and in the contract it states that the purchases and installation is done directly through You and Your Decor. The mark up is specifically spelled out in the contract as well.

Bottom line is that clients like when the designers are transparent with their pricing. They know that they are getting the same level of service, than they would if it is hourly.

-Just my 2 cents!

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Suzanne in Bristow, Oklahoma

30 months ago

Tiffany

I actually found my way to this forum just to see if anyone spoke about this model as an option. We have never been able to afford a designer, but I know that this is not something I have a knack for. I sew and often make draperies, etc. for other people, but it is always to their specifications. How typical is it for a designer to be paid for their time and ideas while you (the clients) take it from there and do the work? I would be perfectly willing to pay someone hourly for the time they spend creating a vision for the space, but I also know we can't spend thousands of dollars at a time to accomplish the vision. If I had an idea of a layout and sketches of color, general furniture and accent ideas, I know that I could gradually work toward that vision. It wouldn't possess the immediate "Wow" factor of a finished room by a decorater, but I would have the idea to work toward within my budget. Does that make sense? By the way, we are in Oklahoma, if that makes a difference. Thanks for any input!

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Tiffany, www.youandyourdecor.com in Waukegan, Illinois

30 months ago

Hi Suzanne!
E-Design A lot of designers are accepting that that is where we are trending towards. I offer E-design, but have not published it officially. But I do it. And I do, do a 3d rendering with it. Shoot me an email with what you have in mind, I will give you a quote, and let you know how the process works.

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alphab in Ahmadabad, India

27 months ago

how to know the taste of client for the interiors of home?

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Amanda www.designworxnz.co.nz in Auckland, New Zealand

27 months ago

Value what you know!!! Know what you Value!!! Charge for your time....why would you NOT!!!!Do you not value your input???

I am currently in legal discussions with a client- despite my repeated requests for a brief and preferred suppliers, I received no information to direct me on this new build, yet had to complete a scheme within a tight time frame...which I did.With a legal contact and to specifications required.

Clients are now disputing the work, which I have had checked out and have fullfilled a signed contract. My tendancy is to query what I know, my past clients tell me I am too cheap,my professional industry backs me with my processes. My colleagues have checked my work ....just in case....

It is now time to back ourselves...as designers....which we don't often do...and put a price to all the years of gathering IP, training in design, sub contractors knowledge, council requirements, what works...and what doesn't....with design principles....and etc...etc....etc....

I will be going to court...I stand on integrity and will let you know how it goes. FIngers crossed!!!!

Amnada

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Alexander Trubin Design in Brooklyn, New York

27 months ago

Hi guys, thank you so much for your input about fees for designers, I recently graduated from an architectural school and after designing my parent's house, started freelancing on small interior renovations. But I completely have no clue of what I should charge for my Ideas, planning or renderings. I normally tell my clients that my fee is hourly (I feel cheep now, I don't even want to say it) but I am one person, and my bills are at a minimum. I have an artistic personality, I feel bad when I have to present a bill for my services. And also, how should I advertise myself when starting out? seems very hard to start out of nowhere with almost no clients.

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Nicole in Newport Beach, California

27 months ago

I have come across this discussion forum and think this is helpful to many in our industry. I find this very interesting ! I am an experienced, published and bi-coastal interior designer with primary focuses on high end residential and commercial (private, state and GSA) Now I have an opportunity for a high end resort/hotel and wanted to have an idea of the fees/charges for this sort of design project. I have concluded that my current format of Fee Free consultation to learn if the opportunity/project is a good fit for all involved. Never give design ideas, mostly listen and ask questions and limit your time. I give two options : Hourly Plus 15% on all purchases or flat Fee (this is calcualted by scope of project) Most importantly always start by understanding clients' budget. Good luck to all of the designers on this forum !!

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