As I'm putting this blog together, I'm chuckling to myself thinking - there really should be a Hiring a Designer Guide for Dummies. Not to insult anyone, I didn't come up with the book series but still... I have had enough conversations lately around this to think that it is, in fact, warranted.
Interior Design is and will always be a Luxury Service. You are of course always, at any time, able to do it yourself but your results will be impacted by skill, access to resources and of course how much you are willing to invest. I've heard some tout that Great Design can be affordable but I will argue that that is a sliding scale and that ultimately, you willl get what you pay for or the person offering you the service at a minimum wage rate will go bankrupt shortly thereafter.
It's a business. Designers not only expect to be paid what their cost is but the whole goal is to actually make money doing it. I think that because so many designers or decorators are women, we tend to apologize for it. My male designer friends don't have nearly the same issues with charging fair fees for their service and for products as women do. That's the best explanation I've come up with but would love to hear more about your experiences or thoughts.
If you are thinking of hiring a designer, look at your budget. Allot 20% of what you have to spend toward their fee. We do percentage based fees on projects over $100,000.00. Under $100,000 we opt for hourly billing. Yes, we do take projects that are under $100,000. I know that this surprises some people. I judge projects based on their being entire rooms, an entire floor or an entire house. If you want to do a rough calculation on what your budget SHOULD be here's some math for you.
Take the square footage of your room. Say your room measures 10ft x 10ft. This means you have a room that is 100 sq ft (yes I'm making it easy on myself). If you are working with a designer and you are looking at lower budget use $75/sq ft as your multiplier. Times that by the sq ft and you will have a budget of $7500.00 to decorate the space. If you want to invest in some custom pieces, multiply your sq ft by $100.00 which in this case will equal $10,000 and if you want to do entirely custom with premium finishes times it by $150/sq ft and that will be your starting point for high end - $15,000++.
Have I scared you yet?
I'm going to throw out some other numbers at you.
Kitchens including Ikea kitchens, cannot be designed & professionally installed for under $25,000. Okay they can but they won't be pretty. I've seen a few done for under $10 and well stapled cabinetry means you'd be better off setting fire to your money actually. If you are willing to do it yourself, you'll save between $5-15,000 but the process will for sure take longer. I say this not to make people feel bad, it costs what it costs. Save up, include a 20% contingency and you'll still run into surprises. I'm not even touching appliances. Some appliances when totalled up are more expensive than an entire house.
There are tons of ways to spend less on a kitchen, working with a professional designer can help you with these items especially if you are planning to redo down the road. Heck sometimes a simple wall colour change & some new hardware & lighting can work wonders to a tired kitchen!
Bathrooms - if you have a tub/shower and you want to hire out the work you can't change everything for less than $25,000. I've tried and I'm sure some will be able to say AHA I've done it. When you look at the labour being between $7500-$12,000 then factor in construction materials (cement board), fixtures, tile, counters, lighting, cabinetry, hardware, paint (all the new towels you'll need to buy and accents to make it pretty)... it just adds up. Boom you're at $30K and you haven't even hired a designer yet.
That's the problem with these types of renovations. You can save a bit here and there but rarely do the savings add up into the tens of thousands. A few dollars here and there but you're still hitting these numbers. However, hiring a designer can help you utilize materials & fixtures that you might not have realized were available, in creative and imaginative ways that while they won't save you money, can help you make it look like you spent a whack more than you had to begin with. They can also help you maximize your layout and save space or in some cases make choices for you that enable you to purchase off the shelf vs having to opt for a custom route. Lighting plans are often overlooked but are entirely important in kitchens and baths - functional rooms in your home. In almost all bathrooms now, I insist that heated floors be added in or at least planned for.
You're investing in your home. Hiring an experienced design professional is a smart investment.