How interior designers charge and work with you
When the phone rings at the studio, “how much will it cost” and “what is the process” questions are among the first questions we may be asked. We appreciate an educated client and we are happy to answer questions about our pricing, how we work, and what to expect. Interior designers and firms in the area work in a variety of ways. Here I will talk about how we work and charge for services at Angela Todd Studios.
Hourly Rate & Billing Cycles
We work on an hourly basis and bill for activities such as sourcing materials, creating CAD documents or product specifications, subcontractor discussions, visiting your job site for walkthroughs, meeting with you, or visits to showroom.
Hourly rates can seem daunting when a client doesn’t have a concept of how much time will be involved for their particular project. We understand that. After our initial consultation to discuss the clients wishes and scope, we are able to offer most clients an estimate of billable time it will take to complete their project. We have found we are fairly accurate with our hourly projections because of our design experience with so many types of clients and projects. We have found that our average time billing ranges 10-12% of the total project spend for most projects.
Our projects start with a deposit on file that is later applied to the final invoices. Deposits are determined by each project based on the total estimated scope. All of our clients are billed every two weeks with a detailed explanation of the date, the task, and the time invested in 15 minute increments. See design services invoice here. Of course there are times we aren’t billing for time invested in a project, and I will talk about that a little later in this post.
Initial Consultation & Design Agreement
We charge a nominal initial consultation rate of $295.00. During the meeting we discuss the scope of work, offer ideas for the project, and determine the scope. For smaller projects, just the initial consultation may be all we need for our work together, as in the case of picking exterior and interior paint colors or general design direction. These are discussed more below. During this initial meeting we will also discuss timelines, review ideas that appeal to you, and take measurements and photographs of the space(s). In some cases clients or projects may not be a good fit for our full service design work at Angela Todd Designs, and in that case our initial consultation will set you up for success with your project. In that case, we can refer you to interior design colleagues or trade professionals that are a better fit for your goals.
Average Design Costs
If we decide to move the project along together, we will draft a design agreement for you generally within 48 hours of our initial consultation. The design agreement discusses our scope together and our rates as discussed above. Once you return the design agreement with your deposit we will get started on our design concept for your project, generally we will be ready for our next appointment in a week or week and a half.
Our past work with clients allows us to offer average design costs for projects from inception to completion. These costs do not include materials or construction costs. Here are some estimated guidelines:
Bathroom Remodeling Design: $3000 – $5000
Scope of work would include space planning, elevations, tile specifications and surfaces, renderings, plumbing fixtures and fittings, cabinetry specifications, mirrors and bath accessories (hooks, towel bars), radiant heating, lighting plan, and so on. Time invested would also include collaborating with the contractor and trade professionals, visits with the client to design showrooms for selections, and site visits for walk throughs.
Kitchen Remodeling Design: $5000 to $8000
Scope of work would include space planning, elevations, tile specifications, appliances, cabinetry specifications, plumbing fixtures and fittings, and flooring, counter and backsplash design. Time invested would also include collaborating with the contractor and trade professionals, visits with the client to design showrooms for selections, and site visits for walk throughs.
Furnishing Plans: $2500 to $3500
Scope of work would include every detail specified and selected, a floor plan, upholstered furniture and case goods (anything not upholstered), accessories, area rugs, custom window treatments and lighting. We use renderings (digital and hand drawn) and elevations to help our clients see the room finished. Our work may also include incorporating existing pieces that are meaningful to the client. This project would take your room from so-so to completed. Once items are specified, approved and ordered, our team of installers and designers will completely finish your space in a day while you are away.
New Construction: $10,000 – $30,000+
This range is hard to offer an estimate without seeing the clients project and understanding what needs to be determined and most importantly understanding their desires once the project is finished. Variables might include a client that has already made many finish decisions, a smaller home, a more straightforward design, or a more custom home. The higher end range may be in circumstances when we are helping with exterior finishes, all fine details in the construction process, or goods, cabinetry or surfaces are more custom tailored. Although we don’t price based on the total build price of the project, we find that on medium to higher end build projects we will likely be in the 3% to 5% price point of the total build. As one client put it recently, “You were a small portion of the total price of building my home, but you made all the difference in the finished outcome.”
Color & Style Development: Exterior Paint $800, Interior 3-5 colors $500
Selecting paint colors for your home including exterior siding, trim and front doors, wall colors, ceiling and millwork is billed hourly, but generally speaking we can have this determined at our first appointment. We will send you the specifications you can share with your painter – or take to the paint store. We will also send you sheets of the colors selected mailed to your door following our appointment.
It should be said that paint colors are almost always the last thing we specify in a project. I type that because many clients are under the impression that color is the first thing to determine. Actually, colors have unlimited possibilities, and textiles like fabrics, rugs and tiles that appeal to you do not. This means you may want your bedroom a cool grayed blue, but if you don’t have your bedding selected we can’t be sure we will pick a complementary blue to the bedding you will select in the future. So, if you are looking for paint colors, it is best to at least have an inspiration for the room. In bedrooms this might be your bedding, in a living room it might be an upholstered chair or even a pillow. In a powder room it may be a piece of artwork. It should also be said that I believe great wall colors don’t yell when someone enters the room, “These walls are yellow.” The best colors support the room. It feels good to be in the space. A visitor to the room likes they way they feel. Then they take in individual elements of the room and might think, Oh yeah, the walls are yellow aren’t they?
Construction Materials: Our job is specify materials, but in most cases your contractor will purchase them. Your general contractor or builder may charge a variety of ways including time and material, or cost plus – where he/she offers the invoices for each item and has a percentage mark up. Depending on the project, our studio might purchase speciality items for a construction project including lighting fixtures, mirrors or window treatments. See enclosed blog on how we use technology and to view a sample of our order confirmations.
Furnishings: We provide pricing quotations for products specified through our studio. We almost always wait to price materials until final decisions are made by our clients. This isn’t to say we aren’t thinking about your budget as we pull materials. We will be pulling materials that match your investment guidelines, but since our selections are many times custom to each client we don’t have a master price list for goods we specify on hand.
We do charge for this time, but that time would be included in your estimated design time that will already provided to you. Once you place your order, there will not be any more time billed for your particular purchase. Time spent tracking orders, coordinating receiving, deliveries, or handling freight – or the occasional issue with quality or damaged goods will be our responsibility. We are sticklers for details and expect excellence in the pieces you order.
We know not all projects need our full service interior design expertise, and we are happy to provide a consultation at your home or business. As mentioned above, our consultations are $495 for up to two hours, and they are due at the visit.
We understand we are in a service based industry and some clients may not have the budget to invest in our comprehensive expertise. We also know we couldn’t possibly take on every project presented to us. If you are better suited for an interior design colleague in the area that works on smaller projects, we are happy to refer you. We have many talented interior designers who we will gladly refer you to.
I should also note here that depending on your project, we may offer you a flat rate design concept. These can also be done long distance. I have done these for rural clients in Oregon, as well as clients in my hometown state of Indiana, as well as snowbirds in Arizona and even Florida. In the case of flat rate design concepts, we generally offer an initial concept and a fine tuned revision directed by the client. Our clients can shop the marketplace or make purchases though our studio or both following our work together.
If you haven’t worked with an interior designer before, or if you want to read more about our process, please visit the below useful links about Angela Todd Designs: