There seems to be a curse word floating around in the design industry that has clients and designers on edge. Not many want to talk about this dreaded “B” word. I’m talking about BUDGET. Money is a touchy subject. Discussing finances seems a bit personal and a little too much in your business. However, when it comes to your interior design project and what it takes to make your vision come to life, we must ask, “What’s your budget”? I think there’s a misconception or disconnect between designer and client when it comes to the budget. I can imagine clients hearing warning sounds ringing loud, dollar signs popping out of the designer’s eyes or even rolling around the floor atop a pile of money yelling, “Gotcha sucka”! Maybe I’m overexaggerating a bit, but am I at least a little close to the reservation you may feel? I’m here to tell you, that is totally NOT the case. Here are the top 3 reasons for why designers need to know what your budget is:
#1 DETERMINE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Let’s be real here. Between popular DIY television shows and big box decorating services, they’ll have you believing you can design an entire house with a $2,000 design fee. I’ve worked behind the scenes on television creating room makeovers and here’s a secret (lots of that stuff is donated). Meaning if we were to really add up the costs of the project, it would come in well over that budget. It’s not wholly realistic! Not to mention that some items are super cheap and not designed to last. I will say that I’ve seen some awesome finds at local flea markets that have been repurposed to look amazing (I give props where they are due)! Maybe you were looking for a full-service design, but the budget or needs for the project is better suited for hourly shopping, or a more cost-efficient e-design service. Or maybe it requires a bit more manual labor on your part. DIY anyone? Understanding your expectations allows us to get a more complete picture of your project and helps us determine the best design service for your needs.
#2 NARROW DOWN SELECTIONS
Interior designers and decorators have a vast contact list of quality, reliable vendors and each has their own pricing. They could be low, mid-range, or high priced. Include free shipping or have freight added. Modest or luxurious upholstery fabrics. Have bulk purchase order minimums or charge one piece at a time. The possibilities are endless. Knowing your budget helps us narrow down our vendor selections. We’ll know if we need to go with a vendor that has a more economical price point with less quality and free shipping. Or a vendor with a higher price point with white-glove service and top-notch quality. Either are great options depending on the function of the space, the aesthetic of the client, and what you’re looking to spend. We need to know your budget, so we’ll know exactly who to contact to save time and of course, money.
#3 QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Isn’t it the designer’s job to be creative? Shouldn’t we just work with how much clients want to spend and still make the space beautiful? Plainly put, yes. But would you rather have used flea market and cheaply made furniture from a budget store or a more quality brand furniture piece designed to last? The latter will cost a bit more but will look just as good and function even better. Designers understand that quality beats quantity any day. It’s not just about appeal, it’s about how if functions for the space you live in. We can work with an inexpensive budget; however, the quality may suffer for it. Wear and tear alone may pull more funds from your pockets overtime. You’re either going to spend more time repairing or more money replacing. Who wants that? Check out the side-by-side match-up below to see how a low, mid, and high price point furniture piece compare to one another.
I found three similar dining chairs at a low, mid, and high price point furniture vendor to help see the similarities and differences in furniture.
LOW PRICE POINT – IKEA $55:
The image on the far left is a dining chair I found at IKEA. What I like about this chair is that it has a nice wood tone, sleek design style. A bonus is the upholstered seat cushions that are machine washable and easy to replace or switch out to meet your aesthetic. Makes it great for easy cleanup. The curved backrest adds an ergonomic functionality for added comfort. If there is a downside here, it would be in the construction. This chair is made with rubberwood. Although a recyclable material (huge plus), it’s not designed to withstand long-term use like other hardwoods. This furniture piece is also assembled with screws, meaning you’ll have to consistently retighten them as the parts will come loose each time it’s used. This results in the wobbly, creaking effect you often see down the line. However, you can skirt the delivery fees by picking these up yourself in your local store.
MID PRICE POINT – POTTERY BARN $208.99
I know, it seems like a huge jump in price, but here’s why. Although this piece is also constructed of rubberwood, the wood has been kiln-dried, meaning it has less moisture content allowing it to last longer and perfect for storing indoors. Plus, it produces less smoke in the event it burns, making it safer for the home. The contoured back makes it comfortable for seating. What makes the construction in this piece better is the mortise-and-tenon joinery and corner blocks. That means each part in this chair was specifically crafted to fit and assemble within each other, making it even more ideal for a more solid structure. I’ve had my run of building furniture by hand in design school and I know all too well about effective joinery for durability and stability. A bonus is the layering technique and the hand finishing for more depth in color and a personal touch. Purchase through a designer and you may even pay less than retail.
HIGH PRICE POINT – TO-THE-TRADE ONLY VENDOR $350 (approx.)
Not every to-the-trade vendor is at this higher price point. This one was selected from one of my favorite furniture vendors at the higher end of the price spectrum to show you exactly why this piece costs more. It’s all in the quality of the construction. This furniture piece was hand-crafted using up to a 16-step multi-finishing process. Since the finish is uses hand rubbing, padding, and multiple layers of sanding and staining, the finishes have more depth in color and smooth to the touch. This chair uses a mix of solid wood, wood veneers, and durable wood products such as Poplar, Rubberwood and Beech Solids. The wood products add more stability to larger surfaces, don’t expand and contract with heat and cold, and don’t absorb as much moisture. Adding the layers of solid wood veneers not only offer a more decorative look, but when placed on top of an already durable wood product, it results in a stronger and longer-lasting furniture piece. They often ship directly from the factory or manufacturer, which means they’re brand new with white-glove delivery and inspection of defects before it’s installed in your home, which often isn’t a feature for lower-cost items.
Seeing the comparisons may help you understand why increasing the budget just a bit can be more beneficial in the end. But don’t feel that if you’re working with a smaller budget that it means you can’t afford quality design services. It’s one reason why designers such as I offer various design packages, such as e-design and hourly shopping. These services often include making the furniture, fabric, and accessory selections, but you do the implementing of the design yourself. You’ll have to be a bit handier than the next person or pay for additional hours for a designer to do the styling for you. In turn, you still get a beautifully designed space while spending less on design fees. Plus, you can maximize your budget and get to have even more control of the design process. These types of projects can even be more fun for designers, because we still get to help our clients solve a problem, we spend less time managing and more time designing with a quicker project turn-around. It’s a win-win! For those who want a more hands-off approach and would rather leave the logistics and in-depth process to the designer, then full-service is the way to go. It may cost a bit more, but you’re sure to get a space that’s exquisitely designed, practically worry-free and exact to your specifications without having to lift a finger. I hope this eases your mind when designers ask “What’s your budget”. Are you ready to get started creating a space of your dreams? Let us help you get started by booking a FREE DISCOVERY CALL. We’ll discuss your project needs and select a design package that’s just right for you.
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Veronica Sanders, an award-winning interior designer creating spaces that's authentically you.
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