interior designer

How to work with an Interior Designer Part 2

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Part 2: How Designers Charge

There are several ways that a designer might charge for their time, but there are generally two most common: by the hour, or by the project. This can get tricky because the hours a designer spends on your project will vary from project to project. I have seen some designers charge by the hour, but bill in "bundles".

For instance a designer might bill a client for 50 hours, and when these hours are around 40-45, the designer will let the client know how much time remains in their account. Should they want to purchase more time, they can buy an additional bundle.

Other designers might bill by the hour and send an invoice every week or every other week.

And then there are some designers who bill their clients based on the project. Most of the time, clients generally prefer this method so there are no "hidden" fees or questions about how many hours were spent on any particular part of a project. This method of billing is usually for the more seasoned designer as they will need to know how many hours they can allocate to the project, and must have a sense of what the client is expecting of them. 

Find out how your designer charges for their projects and see what is the best fit for you and your project. Be mindful of how long a project will take by asking a designer how much time they think your project will require. Also, be mindful of your own time. Do you want to spend 10 minutes talking with your designer on the phone about the exact shade of blue you want for your sofa? Or could that conversation wait and be combined with your other burning questions in a 30 minute meeting? 


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How to Work with an Interior Designer (when you have never worked with one before)

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What you will need in advance:

- idea of what you want to accomplish. For instance, is your goal to have more seating for those family get togethers? Or is your goal to have a tranquil place for you to relax and do yoga? Or maybe you want a space that just feels tied together. Whatever your goal is, know what you want to accomplish. 

- know what your budget is, or at least what you would feel comfortable spending. Is $15,000 too much for a sofa? Is $5,000? If you don't know what your budget is, your designer should be able to help you define that, but be prepared to have a conversation about budget and what you feel comfortable spending. 

- have an idea of what you are attracted to. Make a pinterest or houzz board and be prepared to share these boards with your designer. This will not only help your designer narrow down your options for you, but it will also help you get a better idea of what your personal style is, and what you are or are not attracted to.   


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Do You Need an Interior Designer?

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So you have a home project, and you are considering hiring an Interior Designer, but do you really need one? It will all depend on what your goals are for your home. Interior Designers Usually Offer the following services:

  • Site assessments & design programming
  • Space planning
  • Product & material research
  • Product & material selections
  • Appliance & equipment selections
  • Plumbing fixture selections
  • Project administration
  • Order management
  • Delivery & scheduling
  • White-glove installation
  • Coordination with Allied Professionals & Consultants
  • Exterior residential designs
  • Site plans (based off existing survey)
  • Permit plans (Existing & Proposed)
  • Partition & furniture plans
  • Detailed kitchen & bath plans
  • Construction & demolition plans
  • Power & communication plans
  • Reflected ceiling plan
  • Interior elevations
  • Detail & section plans
  • 3D perspectives in colour renditions
  • In-house shop drawings (a specialty)
  • Specifications

And often times designer will even offer smaller services like paint selection, etc. for a small fee. Each person has a different goal for their home, some people don't like making decisions like these, so they hire a designer to cover all aspects of their project.

Other people would like to be involved through the entire process and would even like some DIY projects. You will want to know at least how much you would like to be involved in the process prior to hiring a designer. Based on your desire to be involved will affect how much you need a designer. 


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What are you paying a designer to do?

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What are you paying an interior designer to do?


Use their knowledge to design a room that functions at its best by Space planning

Make sure you furniture proportions are best for your space

Track shipments

Install and assemble furniture

Hire other professionals

Project management- they should have all the answers or know where to go to get them for you

Translator between you (the client) and the contractor or trades person.

Design your space to your liking by sourcing furniture that you like

Purchasing furniture while staying under budget


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What does an Interior Designer do?

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I get asked this question; "What does an Interior Designer do?" more often than most, and the answer really will vary depending on the project, the scope of work agreed on, and the people involved in the project. I have broken down what each design phase looks like during a project in hopes that this will become more clear to my readers. 

Below is a synopsis of each phase which is intended to help you understand the design process.  

Phase one- Programming (Research & Job Site Visit)

  • Initial job-site visit to Measure and photograph the existing spaces (to prepare drawings as needed).

  • Fact Finding

  • Produce Estimated Project Schedule

  • Project Vision: Discuss the project’s specific needs and preferences with client.

  • Establish Design Intention/Direction

  • Property Usage Development


Phase two- Conceptual (Design Concept Development)

  • Prepare conceptual design based on project vision/clients needs and preferences.

  • Develop floor plan furniture layout.

  • Develop Distinct Design Concepts for client to choose from.

  • Conceptual Finish Board Selections (Flooring, Paint, Wall covering, All Window Treatments, Countertops, Cabinet Finishes)

  • Color Scheme Development

  • Initial Conceptual Design Presentation


Phase three- Schematic (Furniture)

The schematic design is developed and drawn from the approved preliminary concepts presented in Phase two in which documents ( initial space and furniture plans, lighting concepts, concepts for color, materials, finishes, and the selection of specific furnishings) are prepared for use in the schematic phase.

  • Define Interior Concept Design

  • Refined/Detailed Furniture Floor Plans

  • Develop and Present Furniture Options in a Presentation

  • Identify Colors, Materials, and finishes for each area

  • Select Specific Furniture

  • Initial Budget Estimate for furniture


Phase four- Design Development (Soft Goods, Art, Accessories)

  • Formal Furniture Design Presentation

  • Develop and Present all Design Details Including Soft Goods (Pillows, Bedding, Rugs, Drapery), Art, Accessories, Household items (as needed).

  • Detailed Floorplans and Elevations

Phase five- Construction Documentation (Final Floor plans and Specifications Documents)

The Specification Documents shall describe in detail the following information to properly establish a budget for the areas within the Scope of Work.

  • Matrix of Material References

  • Final Finish, Fixture/Equipment and Furniture Floor Plan

  • Detailed Elevations

  • Finish Schedule

  • Final Budget Estimate

Note:  The drawings and documents prepared by the interior designer remain the property of the design firm and cannot be used by anyone else for any purpose other than the completion of the project by North of Boho, South of Chic.

Upon completion of construction documentation any additional changes will be performed on a time and expense basis in accordance with our standard hourly rate schedule listed below.  

This phase is an extension where all architectural documents and preliminary furniture specifications are prepared for approval and implementation.

The floor plans are not intended to be architectural permit plans which would be submitted to the building department. They are to be used by the client, contractor, and architect for design intent, non-structural layout, and fixture locations only.


Phase six- Purchasing

  • All materials and products will be purchased for installation according to schedule and within budget. This phase consists of:

* Issue Purchase Order

  • * Issue Vendor Checks

  • * Track Production Cycle

  • * Quality Control

  1. It is understood that all items specified will be purchased in accordance with this design agreement; by the client, through the contractor, or through North of Boho, South of Chic. If purchasing through North of Boho, South of Chic, a separate Purchasing Agreement will be presented before purchasing begins.

  2. North of Boho, South of Chic will purchase all approved FF&E for the project (unless otherwise specified) as agreed upon in the purchase agreement.

  3. Custom purchases:  Custom items are described as a manufacturer's standard design (including but not limited to size and shape) which can then be adjusted with made-to-order details (including but not limited to finish, fabric, color, size, etc.). All custom orders will require the client’s signed authorization as well as the total price for each item prior to placing the order. The client shall be responsible for the payment of sales tax, packing, shipping, receiving and any related charges on specified purchases of merchandise.

  4. Warranties and guarantees on all goods and services shall be only to the extent of those provided by the manufacturer, vendor or supplier. Not all merchandise has a warranty. Some warranties are offered at a separate and/or additional cost and can vary based on each manufacturer's policy. The client is solely responsible for filing all claims against warranties offered after installation.

  5. North of Boho, South of Chic will not be liable for any damage due to shipping, errors, mistakes or misrepresentations on the part of the vendor.

  6. Designer shall not be held liable for purchases made prior to physical inspection/measurements are taken at the project site as actual measurements.

  7. Client understands and agrees that the designer/North of Boho, South of Chic can not guarantee the outcome of any insurance claim for damaged items.

  8. All Sales are Final. No Returns or Exchanges are permitted after the purchasing agreement has been signed by the client.

  9. Client understands and agrees that Designer cannot guarantee the availability and the prices of any items in the Purchase Proposal be still obtainable at the time of Client’s written approval of the Purchase Proposal. If any item becomes unavailable, Designer will propose an alternative item that is compatible in design and pricing for Client’s review and approval.

  10. Cancellation of items in progress (if possible) may incur charges according to manufacturer's’ specifications. There will be an additional 10% charge levied by the Designer for paperwork, and follow-up on cancelled items.


Phase seven- Construction Administration

  • Site Visits

  • Respond to RFI’s (Request for Information)

  • Finish Approval (by Contractor, for Designer Review)

  • Shop Drawing Approval (by Contractor, for Designer Review)

  • Present Material Reselection (as Needed)

  • Revisions to Construction Documents as needed

  • Communication/Correspondence with other professionals on the project

Phase Eight- Installation

A. Designer shall coordinate the deliveries of the materials for the Interior Installation and the Merchandises including but not limited to shipping, handling, storage, insurance, and installation delivery coordination of third parties. Estimates for these services will be provided to the client prior to install, after all purchases have been made and delivery schedules can be established.

B. Designer may request Client or Client’s Representative to review and approve setup of the partial Interior Installations or Merchandise during the Project. Client agrees that Client or Client’s representative shall cooperate with Designer’s request in a timely manner. Without such review and approval by Client or Client’s representative, the Designer may suspend further services at Designer’s sole discretion.

C. The Designer shall oversee the installation of the Interior materials, furniture, fixtures and equipment by third party service providers at the Project Site. However, Designer has no obligation to remain or supervise any third party activities at the premises. Designer will not be held responsible for the means, methods or procedures of construction, fabrication, delivery, installation, or safety precautions in connection with the third party or their affiliates.


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