What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
Since I have access to over 130 home furnishings suppliers - who offer tens of thousands of items that align in quality and cost with our "Good, Better, Best" sales program - I typically do not charge separate design fees. Instead, my income comes from the sales of the unique and custom home furnishings I propose from which they purchase to decorate their homes and offices. That said, I do sometimes collect an hourly fee for independent design and consultations services.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
First, I conduct a phone interview seeking information about my potential client and their project to help one another determine whether we're a good "fit." Upon mutual agreement that we will likely work well together - and understand how we'll work together - I'll provide a complimentary 60-90 in-home consultation to further explore the potential project. At the end of the first meeting, if all parties are in agreement, I collect a retainer to cover my initial research (e.g., drafting floor plans and elevations, making initial product selections, preparing a presentation, etc.). Later, when my new client moves forward with a significant purchase of home furnishings, I'll apply the amount of the retainer to their first purchase of at least twice the amount of the retainer. As we move forward and further home furnishing selections are made and purchased, I over see the installation until the project is complete.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
As a student of the Boston Architectural College, I studied coursework toward a professional certification in interior design. I've also certificates in professional commercial photography and as a project management professional.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
My interest in interior design began when I was about eleven years old when I would rearrange the furniture in my bedroom at different times of the year to optimize its appearance and take advantage of the views from my bedroom window. Over time, I began helping relatives and friends with their interior design projects until I eventually partnered with an interior design company on Cape Cod in Massachusetts where I further honed by interior design and home furnishings sales skills.
What types of customers have you worked with?
My customers are comprised primarily of residential clients who own both primary and secondary (i.e., vacation) homes who seek assistance pulling together the "look" they love, but are not capable of pulling together on their own. My ideal customers share three common characteristics: 1) They have a realistic budget in mind to achieve the quality and scope of the project they seek to execute. 2) They've neither the time nor interest to either shop the big box stores or the Internet independently. 3) And,
they value the expertise that I, as an award-winning interior design professional, can bring toward creating and realizing a unique, custom design exclusively for them.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
Supplying an interior design plan for a great room and florida room - complete with all new furnishings - for a client who moved into a recently renovated mid-century 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Fort Lauderdale gave me the opportunity to decorate in a contemporary style that reflects the home's mid-century roots. Incorporating both custom upholstered pieces and a motorized window treatment along with several in stock items allowed me to complete the great room project in under five months and the sun room in just two and a half months.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
The best advice I have for a potential client hiring an interior designer is three-fold: 1) hire a professional who you can work with, 2) hire someone whose work you like, 3) do not undersell your desires by hiring the least expensive design professional - you truly do get what you pay for.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
I wish customers appreciated the value of the work that interior designers provide. Since most everyone has a home and furnishings, there's a sense that interior design is a "given" and its highest applications often taken for granted based on how natural, functional, and well-executed the finished designs appear. In reality, truly understanding a client, their goals, their space, and budget, requires a great deal of design know-how, business acumen, and people skills to achieve a truly spectacular design.