Hiring Designers/Using Houzz/Discussions
“Typical” doesn’t exist. When you go car shopping, do you shop for a economy Chevrolet, a mid priced Toyota, a luxury Cadillac or the latest MaseratI? It’s the same with designers and houses. There’s no way that a cheap Chevy gets parked at the CEO’s 8 bedroom house with the heated pool. And there’s no way that the just graduated and just married’s need that 40K custom Maserati sofa. If you’re the economy Chevy, you’re probably going to want to work with someone cheap, at $100 an hour or so for basic work. That’s someone just out of school who hasn’t figured out her business model yet. Or it’s someone with no formal training, who just hung out their shingle one day after deciding they had a way with color. Buyer definitely beware on the low end side. And she hasn’t figured out if she is good and will make it, or mediocre and won’t. She’s still learning the real world, and hope to goodness she has spouse with a good job or she will starve. She's clueless about overall job pricing and her pricing, even though she may fake it. She probably does not have the industry sources that a more seasoned designer would have, so access to the trade merchandise will be limited. You may end up shopping at all the retail shops yourself, with a “plan” she put together, for less than 1K. For all new everything living room, you’re talking a 8-15K mostly off the shelf completed room here. That is if nothing existing is worth keeping. If you’ve been wise in investing in quality pieces, the figure can be lower. Or, if you want better quality pieces to carry into your next life phase, that figure can be higher. If you're the mid priced Toyota, you are over the scrimping and economizing to pick poor quality fad stuff that breaks, and are focused on getting value for the long haul. Your Designer will likely be $150-250 hourly, plus commissions on products. Most designers in this range will be survivors of the Budget Chevy type, and be seasoned, have good to the trade sources, and will work off of whole room budgets instead of hourly consults. They may have graduated to having an assistant. They’ve learned that splitting jobs up into 100 different parts to be paid for is self defeating, both for the customer and designer. She may offer you a paid hourly initial consult, but her focus will be on the whole job, and giving you that value by doing the whole job. You will get better results, and she will get paid better, because of those to the trade resources. Don’t begrudge her commissions on product. It is what keeps her in business. You’re still paying less than retail, and the bottom line is what is important. You’ll get better quality than Pottery Barn, at a lower price, Your complete living room project can be 25-50K, which is average for better than average retail quality for a complete soup to nuts. Again, if you made wise quality purchases in the past, the figure can be less. The Cadillac won’t have an hourly rate. Room rate whole package only. Or product purchases only. Sure, if you’ve been a past customer, and want a new sofa and wall color for a room she did for you 10 years ago, she will work with you. But no one else is going to get that small type service, unless it’s from a junior. She likely has her own showroom, and junior designers to do the running down of items. She just does the high concepts. She will have a good name locally, and will likely have a niche style that she is known for doing well. You’ll be getting very good to the trade products, and the design will be impeccable. You also won’t need to be involved in any of the uncomfortable scheduling snafus and details. The designer will handle everything with no stress to you. A living room project is likely 40-90K. They also can do a Toyota project with a junior, or a Maserati with the principle sourcing some uber designer products. This type of firm will be the most versatile, and have the most resources to fit all your needs. The Maserati Designer is a “name”, even if it’s not country wide known. They may have their own name on a products line from a retailer. They may or may not be selling education and skill, and a well done room with that name, but most clients are looking for the prestige of that name. You’ll be in 40K custom sofa territory here. 100K antique rugs. You likely will not be working directly with the name. You will be working with a junior at the firm, and may get to meet the name once. If you are a name yourself, or have an unlimited budget, or have a quirky and interesting house suitable for a magazine, the name may create the initial concept for the juniors to work on for you. This is the “if you have to ask, you can't afford it” category.
but quite frankly they may be too expensive for me, and while I like some of their designs, some I don't (the lavender rooms). I also worry whether if I go to a higher end firm, I'll be assigned a designer less qualified by the designer I like and that person may not be the right fit for me. I would contact the firm/designer to ask how they charge, how they develop their designs, who would work with you, etc. If the firm is responsive to a client's wants and needs, the end product may be "the lavender rooms", rather than the designer/firm having their own style that they impose on all clients. Which I would thin is a good thing. In any situation, I would definitely ask for references and check them. Checking up with what you can find online is not enough. Also, just as a cautionary tale, I'm dropping this recent thread here, https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/5568447/would-appreciate-advice-on-bad-interior-designer-experience#23893070
A nightmare experience with interior designers