For as much great work as we do, Interior Designers get a lot of flack for the things we can't share with you.
ID one of these odd trades where people want you to tell them ALL of your trade secrets so you can arm them with the tools to totally cut you out in the end (and it happens more than you'd believe). Things like:
- How much you pay for everything you buy (especially re-sale items).*
- Who/where your workroom is and what YOUR pricing is.
- Where you shop...not just the public places, but your special, sacred spots.
- How to do everything you think needs to be done on their project so they can do it themselves (thereby lessening/eliminating your fee).
- The "Do you have any ideas?" question. Like, "Oh, do you have any ideas about my kids room/guest room/drapery/front door color/office" etc.
But here's the deal--the reason we can't share these things with you is because Interior Design is a BUSINESS for us, not a hobby.
Sure, we're extremely lucky to be doing work we love and we love it because we'd do it for free, but life is such that we CAN'T afford to do it for free. And it's totally not personal. Whether a designer works off of flat-rate fees or hourly fees, it all corresponds to a dollar value per hour for our services. So when we're shopping on our own and find something for re-sale, it's totally unrealistic to expect that you will be able to pay the same price that we paid for that item. We've spent not only our time but used our expertise to select an item we know will bring interest and if we pass it on to you at our cost, we are out the gas & time it took to purchase said item, not to mention the $ return on the investment we spent to be educated in our chosen field (if applicable). Most of the time your designer won't have a problem tossing around an idea for your additional space, but when questions start getting specific (where can I find all of the components for a complete budget bathroom redesign?) or frequent (late night/weekend emails & texts to discuss spaces that aren't a part of the original scope of work), it's time to sign up for another consultation because it's just the right & professional thing to do (and it's also the same thing any other professional--like your attorney--would require you to do).
But consider this:
You can walk into a store and buy a pillow from Target/West Elm for anywhere from $19.99-$69.99 (add $25 for WE insert). Or you can work with a designer who conveniently meets you at your home or office with fabric samples s/he's pulled from a local design center to custom design pillows for your needs that do not yet exist. Want a flange on those pillows? No prob, we can make it as big as you'd like (and even in a contrasting/coordinating color). What about using pom-poms or beads as trim? We can make it happen. Think you just want as basic, knife-edge pillow the trade-only fabric that you've fallen in love with? Easy peasy. Anything is possible when you're working one-on-one with a professional but the reality is that ID is, at some level, a luxury service. And that doesn't mean you have to spend $50,000 on every project you commission, but it means that it is considered a luxury to have someone shop around for your personal tastes and custom design a space to suit your specific needs. If fabrics & pillows & bedding are designed according to your specifications (even if it's using Schumacher's Chiang Mai that's been E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E), it's unrealistic to expect those goods to cost the same as what you might pay when you pop into a retail store and pick up a mass produced pillow. And I'm sure you've noticed this same thing in your local design boutiques, too. I can almost bet that the custom pillows they sell average between $150-$350 per pillow, and that's because of the time investment & level of expertise involved. Someone took the time to thoughtfully select the fabric, decided on a style, drove to the workroom, sat down with the fabricator to spec their ideas, later drove back to the workroom to pick up said pillows, and is now putting them up for sale in the shop. And that's MUCH different than ordering thousands of yards of fabric, sending it to China, having the pillows stuffed with poly-fill, and selling 50,000 pillows at $19.99. It's just not gonna happen for the little guy...the profits & numbers are totally different.
And this is the thing...most of us LOVE what we do, and it's our intention to have this passion support our family & lifestyle. I think that, as professionals, we should be as transparent as possible about how we do business with our clients, yet we also need to make sure that clients understand the parameters on how we run our business. The best way to create a successful design experience is to select a designer whose work you love and whose personality is a good fit with yours. If you love their work, trust that they'll work their magic on your space too. It's not going to be as "cheap" as if you designed your space on your own, but a great designer is truly worth the investment.
I'd love to hear your thoughts...