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Why work with an Interior Designer?

Updated on September 25, 2011

Work with a designer through construction phase

Working with an Interior designer during the pre-construction phase
Working with an Interior designer during the pre-construction phase

Benefits of working with a designer

Why do some clients use an interior designer and others prefer to work alone? I have no idea, but I do know that we offer clients the flexibility to use us however they define the services which they need. And, at this point in our career, most of our clients are repeat business or referral and that makes life a whole lot easier

So let's take a look at some of the reasons why someone should use a designer?

1. Using a design firm gives a client access to sources that are not available to the public.

2. Designer's are usually offered a "trade price" which is significantly less than the suggested retail price.

3. Design firms help a client sequentially organize the project from start to finish.

4. Designer's draw up plans to help clients get permits which are required for construction.

5. Professional firms understand the sequence in which a project needs to be executed, and therefore help keep the client in budget and on target, for an "on time" completion.

There are so many valid reasons to use a professional designer when building or remodeling, and this holds true even when it comes to window coverings or reupholstering a sofa. Designers save clients money. They help resist problems from arising, not just because they are licensed, but because of their experience they are able to troubleshoot through a lot of very difficult and emotional situations.

Currently, we're working on the third major project with one of our clients. Originally they came to us looking for someone to fabricate a leather bar top and the relationship has grown since then. Referral and word of mouth is definitely what builds most successful business relationships. This particular client was a referral from a colleague in the building business. A very easy way to find someone that is trustworthy and reliable.

It's interesting to take a look at this particular client relationship, as it is so typical in our industry. The client was getting started on a major remodel in Austin, Texas. The realtor had referred a builder and the builder had referred a designer. That was a little over five years ago, and we're now completing our third major project with this same client, a vacation home in Colorado.

Obviously, this relationship has grown during these past five/six years and it has grown with respect for each others' needs. Initially, it is important to define exactly what the goals are to be. This is so, for the client and for the design firm. It is very important to draw up a project outline and to keep it simple. For example, if a client needs help drawing up a formal floor plan for the furniture placement, the designer is able to scale existing furniture and new pieces required to complete the desired floor plan. Sometimes, it's very helpful to work backwards into a "game plan." That may involve a budget or sometimes a completion date. The single main issue is for both parties to be working towards the same goal.

The design industry, as well as most industries, has changed with the development of the computer technology. There were times when we weren’t sure if the change was going to be a good thing or not. But like a lot of things that undergo change, you either decide to change also, or you get lost in the dust.

Change has been a good thing for our industry. The internet has made it possible for clients to see a lot of products, which may not have otherwise been available for them to see where they live. It helps clients to see all sorts of available product, to understand pricing, and helps to formulate opinions. Clients seem to like doing some of the leg work and it does help stream line both parties efforts.

Interestingly, in this particular project, the client may find an item and won't buy it without checking to get a second opinion. And, at that point, we will compare our price to the price that the client has been given. Nine times out of ten, the price offered to the design firm is considerably lower than the price offered to a retail client.

For example, if we buy a product from our normal suppliers, the discount can be as much as 50% off of the suggested retail price. Most of the time, we do the purchasing for our clients, and we charge them our cost, plus a percentage. And almost always, that cost is less than it would be, if the client was to buy it without our being involved.

The interesting point is that "the trade" as it is known, is given a different price than a retail client. The trade price is usually half of the suggested retail price. Most stores prefer to do business with designers and architects, because they help streamline the buying process. A designer will be able to buy at a wholesale cost, and charge the client the cost plus an agreed to percentage and it should still cost the client less, than if they were to buy the item directly. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

To find a good Interior Designer, it is always a good idea to check with some friends that have completed a similar project, to the one that you are about to undertake. Reputably Architects and/or Builder's are also a very good source to get referrals. And, lastly, the local ASID (American Society of Interior Designer's) office can direct consumer's to licensed professionals in your community.


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    • Mindy Meisel profile image

      Mindy Meisel 5 years ago from Austin, Texas

      It's a little bit of a delay to respond, but my father passed away and I haven't been checking in. I think they say, " Better late than never.!! "

    • Michael Giggs profile image

      Michael Giggs 5 years ago from London

      Nice article - followed!

    • profile image

      gkanekoa 6 years ago

      Thanks for writing this. I hope this will help my parents find someone soon. I don't know how much longer I can take living without furniture while they figure out what they want to do with the house.

    • manthy profile image

      Mark 6 years ago from Alabama,USA

      I agree - I'm a loyal follower now