Hiring an Interior Designer can feel daunting, but I promise you it’s worth it. You might have a few general questions you’d like answered before we speak but if your question isn’t here, don’t be afraid to reach out to me directly.
I really appreciate it when people are honest about not knowing a budget rather than pulling a number from thin air in fear of their designer going wild with their money! I don’t ask you for your budget to see how much money this job is worth, I ask you so that I can analyse whether or not your expectations can be met. If you told me that you wanted to decorate your 3 bedroom home on a $20k budget, I’d have to break the news to you that this isn’t possible.
It is important for you to set the bar so that I know what calibre of retails we can shop at. If you don’t know what your budget is, then I can help you understand where your money goes during a single room fit-out, with a quick exercise.
As an example, I’ll choose a living room, as they are the most common requests from my clients. Let’s assume that you don’t need any wall, floor or window treatments are done because they significantly add up. I want to show you what furniture and decor alone may cost from mid-level furniture stores.
To decorate a living room, you may need all or most of the following items:
Fabric 4 seater Sofa ($3,500)
Coffee table ($800)
TV unit ($1,100)
2 x Side tables ($650)
2 x 3m rug ($1,200)
Some sort of storage (bookcase or sideboard) ($1,300)
A floor lamp ($300)
Approx 6 x Cushions ($65)
A throw ($140)
Large Artwork ($420)
Styling items for coffee table, side tables and storage unit ($1500)
Total = Approx $13k for one living room (minus delivery charges).
Working with me means that you’ll get access to attractive trade discounts and I pass these on to you. So you can expect to receive around 25% off the $13k making it $9,750 approx. By doing this same exercise with a bedroom, a dining room, an office and a hallway, you will quickly be able to gauge the cost for an entire property. Once you find that number, add on a 10% buffer and now we have a clear budget to go with.
My job is to get you the best value for your money and to invest wisely in the pieces we need higher quality from. I am not going to waste money on a designer lamp, it leaves us with a low-quality sofa. You provide a realistic budget and I’ll do the shopping. It’s as simple as that.
How long is a piece of string? This question is too vague to answer directly but I can try to help you understand how to build your own guesstimate before speaking to me. Firstly, I’d need to know if you are going with E-Design, Interior Styling or Interior Design as they all require a certain level of work.
With an E-Design service, you can expect a design proposal within 3-5 days approx if it’s 1-2 rooms. If we are doing a full house with 3-5 bedrooms, allow 2+ weeks for the presentation to come back to you. Once you are happy with everything and place your orders, you will wait for the ETA time from each retailer to receive your goods. That part is out of my hands and tends to shock most people when they hear that their sofa will take 14-16 weeks. The key with Interior Design is getting ahead of any urgencies you might have so that you don’t choose furniture purely for lead time. You can’t expect your home to be completed by Christmas if you only engage my services in November.
Interior Design services are more demanding as I am going out and visiting suppliers, researching and specifying hard finishes, arranging meetings on top of the design itself. If we are doing 1-2 rooms, I’d allow around 1-2 weeks approx for the design proposal or up to 5-7 weeks for a full home design. These estimates are based on an average of my work so should be taken with a pinch of salt. They are also only considering my design, not factoring in any trades or product lead times. Trades are another area that tends to shock my clients, as it can take up to two weeks to get them to visit your home, and another 2 to 4 weeks to book them in for the job itself (you can double or triple that now post covid).
My Interior Styling service requires me to visit your property first to see what we are working with. I’ll then make a plan of the mood I’d like to create in each space followed by a shopping trip (usually a full day). And lastly implementing the styling (up to a full day again). Overall, I’d allow around 3 days for Interior styling depending on how we break those days up (due to our availability).
When putting an ETA on the completion of a design project, you need to factor in my time, the tradies time (if required) and the lead time on all products purchased for your home. I strongly advise you to get ahead and plan the design of your home, long before you truly need it to be finished. And most importantly, be patient with your project. I know you want everything done yesterday because you are excited, but I promise you, the wait will be worth the perfect pieces for your forever home.
Electronic Design (E-Design) is basically Interior Design without the designer visiting the client’s home or doing much running around. This service allows us to work together remotely in a more cost-effective way, regardless of where you live.
With E-Design, everything is done through online research, emails, phone calls and virtual meetings. I simply require a clear brief, inspiration pictures, a floor plan or rough measurements, a virtual tour of your home and some pictures of your current space.
E-Design is suitable for people who don’t mind a virtual experience with me and hope to save a little in design fees. It is ideal for time-poor busy bees, Non-Metro Melbournians and those wanting a road map to DIY themselves.
There is less hand-holding with E-Design. Once the design is complete and it gets your seal of approval, I’ll organise all your trade invoices for you. Once received, I hand over all invoices to you which is the end of our journey together.
You will then place your orders yourself, organise your own delivery dates, deal with retails for any product/general issues, hang your own art and place all furniture around your home yourself. But don’t worry, I will be giving you a very clear guide on how to place everything around your home. Most of the delivery teams will help you place your furniture anyway so you don’t need to worry about that.
I offer a “Basic” and “Full” E-Design package that offer different levels of service depending on your budget. These packages are outlined on my E-Design page.
This must be the most asked and controversial question in the Interior Design industry when really it shouldn’t matter. In short, yes I do pass on most of my trade discounts to clients. But please read on to understand more.
Interior Designers get access to great prices from the majority of retailers and suppliers. And so they should in my opinion. We are loyal, repeat customers and have worked very hard to get these discounts through our businesses. People don’t expect their builder, plumber or electrician to provide products at cost price, yet designers are expected to hand it over.
All designers work differently in this department, but I can give you a quick overview of the possible options. Trade discounts vary from retail to retail and can be anywhere from 5% to 50% off the retail price. This discount can be split between client and designer, passed entirely to the client or kept entirely by designers as a primary method of income.
Option 1: Split between client & Interior Designer (my approach)
Interior Designers can choose how much of their trade discount they’d like to share with their clients. After trying all options, I have settled on splitting trade discounts with my clients 30/70 (30% kept by me as a procurement fee, 70% passed to the client). This ensures that my clients always get their design fee back in the end and they can save some money too. With my method of 30/70, my design fees can be accessible to the average homeowner.
I don’t have to worry about whether or not you shop through me, or how much discount I can get for you. The biggest reason I try to shop at places that offer bigger discounts is to ensure you get a better bang for your buck and get your design fee back in the end.
Option 2: Designer keeps full trade discount
This is a good way for designers to “win” the job initially because their design fees are more attractive to clients (lower). The client doesn’t have to pay big fees because the designer should be making good money from the trade discounts obtained.
The complication with this method can be that the designer relies upon the shops sourced from, to ensure they are paid enough for the job. This may mean that the designer could source a product from specific retails at $1000 (gaining up to $500 from the discount) but a similar product could be found elsewhere for cheaper. The designer would choose the more expensive supplier so that they can pay themselves (and rightly so). With this method, you would likely be contracted to place a minimum order through the designer to ensure they get paid.
Option 3: Designer passes full discount to you
A designer may decide to pass their full trade discount onto you. In doing so, they will likely have much higher design fees than others which can be offputting for clients and harder to win jobs for designers. In my experience, the newer designers have this method in place (I started this way too) because it looks good to the client. It is very hard to put an exact quote on a job in the early stages, so designers would generally change by the hour here. Charging by the hour means that you don’t really know what you’re up against and there is no limit to the hours worked by the designer. What sounds very attractive at first, might add up in the end.
At the end of the day, you are the consumer and should feel happy with whatever way your designer charges. The most important things to focus on is your relationship with your chosen designer, their abilities, their reviews and their honesty. Your designer is taking a huge amount of work, responsibility, time and stress off your shoulders, so does it really matter how they make their money?
That is perfectly fine and somewhat expected. I encourage you to be open and honest with me about the design proposal. During our initial consultation, I ask enough questions to figure out what you like and don’t like to avoid any dissatisfaction.
Product sourcing is perhaps the most time-consuming task within the design concept phase. When I am looking for the perfect product for you I am considering your budget, the quality of the item, the design, the material, the longevity, the location of the item (is it near a window? If so, we need to think about colour fasting) etc. Every single item I pick has been thoughtfully considered and planned for your home. Nothing will be picked without reason, I guarantee you.
With my Interior Design and E-Design Services, you are entitled to a number of amendments. The number of amendments you can make is determined by the service you have gone with and can be found on each service page. If you require more amendments than your service agrees to, you will be required to pay a resourcing fee per product sourced. This fee is to cover (some of ) the extra time it will take to source another suitable product for you. It is also there, to discourage you from changing your mind too many times and getting confused. Trust me, I have experienced this on many occasions and 100% of the time, my clients say “actually, the first option you picked is best. I should have trusted your decision”.
To date, I have never needed to charge my clients a resourcing fee. With every proposal, I always expect a handful of changes because many items are subjective (such as art and ornaments).
Absolutely! I love helping my clients add to what they already have to complete their look. You have spent years collecting your treasures, I would love to help you show them off in the right way. Not everyone can be (or wants to be) in a position to start from scratch and I am okay with that. Perhaps you just need help with things like cushions, art and decor, or maybe you have a few rooms finished but need help finalising the other rooms.
I will warn you though, If you are envisioning your dream home to be a beachy, coastal theme with lots of white and light woods, but your dark floorboards and black leather sofa are preventing this, I will tell you straight out. I’ll help you figure out what items can stay and what items need to go to the charity shop, in order to get you your dream home.
I can work with you in many ways here. If we are sourcing a number of items, you can choose my E-Design or Interior Design service depending on the level of assistance you require and your budget. Or I can offer you my Interior Consulting services where I simply pop over to your home for verbal discussions about what needs to be done with your property and point out the areas that are not working. Then it’s over to you to execute my suggestions and source your own products.
I have been hired to help people choose their artwork only, or to select their decor to fill shelving or even to curate their belongings that are hindering their design ( like Maree Condo)! Sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes!
Of course, I can. Whether you are building a new home or planning a renovation, it is so important to consider all of your materials as a whole. Just because you are choosing neutral colours throughout doesn’t mean you cannot fail. Did you know that neutral colours don’t automatically “match”? You can actually clash a wall colour with a wooden floorboard, setting the rest of your Interior Design up for failure.
I am so glad that you are thinking about an Interior Designer during these early stages. I have experienced so many situations where my clients didn’t see the importance of hiring a designer until the shell of their home was complete. They pick finishes individually, without thinking about the full picture, and end up with materials that fight. I’ve also experienced my clients living with pink sheer curtains because they looked cream in the shop. They didn’t factor in their wall colour at home which reflected off the material giving the sheers a pink hue. These decisions are very expensive mistakes to make so I’d highly recommend hiring an Interior Designer from the early stages.
Generally, I service these types of clients via my Interior Consulting Service. You can book 1-multiple hours of my time and I’ll visit your home or assist you virtually if you live outside Melbourne Metro. I ask you to send me photos, measurements, inspirational images and any other useful information before our consultation so that I can do some preparation work ahead of time. I’ll take you through the presentation, and we’ll discuss everything in detail so that you feel confident in the final decisions for your home.
If you are wanting a full Interior Design service, your hard finish selections (wall, floor and cabinetry finishes) would be factored into the quote I provide you with after our initial consultation. I don’t provide this service within an E-Design package as I need to physically visit your home to experience your lighting, space and colours in person.
An Interior Designer provides a lot of value to your project such as:
– A professional, trained eye to design the perfect home for you.
– Save you a lot of time
– Research everything for you
– Provide access to wholesale and trade only suppliers
– They have reliable contacts in the industry
– Full project management
– Budget management keeping you in check
– They prevent expensive mistakes through their expertise
– They’ll save your marriage…designing a home is exhausting and stressful especially when you and your partner’s visions don’t align!
If you are simply decorating, it’s best to start working with an Interior Designer around 5-6 months before you really want the room(s) complete. Furniture lead times are at an all-time high right now (post covid) and can take up to 6 months from construction to delivery. Of course, not everybody has the luxury of six months to plan ahead. I can work with your lead time. If you need furniture sooner, then we’ll make a plan around that and choose suppliers accordingly.
If you are building or renovating, you should hire a designer during the planning phase so that your professional can make all of the challenging decisions for you such as tile selection, AC locations, wall colours, cabinetry finishes, hardware choices, window treatments etc. Builders are builders and don’t consider the internal flow of a space. I’ll be able to help you spatially plan your interior BEFORE it gets built for optimum living arrangements.
Yes you can. Every designer charges differently and services a specific clientele. You may not be able to afford every Interior Designer, but you can certainly afford an Interior Designer with the right research.
There are designers (me included) who offer various services which can cater to many budgets. The level of assistance will vary depending on cost but hiring an Interior Designer is possible for everyone.