How Much Will it Cost?


Many people feel some anxiety about contacting an interior designer because they really don’t know how their costs will stack up. Let’s face it, cost does matter. You’ve got to weigh the cost of the new rug against the fees for soccer camp, and balance those against the vacation plan for next summer. No one wants the disappointment of beginning a project only to learn that they can’t really finish it.

A good designer needs to get personal and ask some direct questions. Not only does she need to know what your family does for dinner, but she is going to need to know how much you want to spend on the new dining table.

It’s not always easy to be that transparent with someone you’ve just met. That’s why trust and communication are so important in the designer/client relationship. You need to know that your designer has good listening skills, and can intuit the things you have a tough time saying. But, you also need to be prepared to answer some standard questions: How much are you budgeting for your project? What is your timeline for the finished product?

Your designer will know how to stretch your money to accomplish as many of your goals as possible. For example, I love to take my clients to Palace Rug in Bellevue for top-quality, beautifully hand-knotted rugs. These rugs will last a lifetime, and hold their value. They are works of art to build a room around, and when it comes to cleaning, they are a snap. Choosing a rug with Keivan and Leyla from Palace Rug is usually a first-stop when planning a design for my clients. But, sometimes, in order to meet the overall design goal, I will purchase a rug from Pottery Barn, Home Decorator’s, Ballard Designs, or Joss and Main. The quality will not compare, and the rug may need to be replaced in five years, but that may be all that my client is looking for in order to meet the needs of their budget, now. Budget compared to overall goal has to be a constant focus for the client and the designer. [Area rugs of the same size can run $300-$5000.]

I charge $250 an hour, and try to recoup that fee for my clients by passing on my discounts for fabrics, paint, drapery hardware, accessories, etc.  I also believe that I save my clients from costly mistakes, such as repainting a room because the color is wrong, or purchasing furniture that does not flow with the overall scheme.

I work with a brilliant workroom/seamstress, Beverly Brenan of Lifestyle Designs. She is a perfectionist, and I am always confident that clients will be thrilled when they receive their new bedding, window treatments, or living room pillows, hand sewn by Beverly. Beverly is my right hand; the magic fairy who brings my visions to life. I choose several fabric options, present them to my client, and then come up with a design using those fabrics. Recently, we designed and sewed window treatments for a 9,000 square foot home in Virginia. 3,000 square feet of windows, that took three professionals 12 full hours to install. I’d taken all of the measurements and created the design plan while the house was still under construction. I had the fabrics sent to Beverly, and together, we teased out every detail of welts, ruffles, buttons and trims. Beverly sewed for months and carefully packed each item for shipping to Virginia from Seattle. I planned on using a steamer to touch up any wrinkles that occurred from the long trip. I also braced myself for other kinds of wrinkles; perhaps there would be something that did not fit quite perfectly, and adjustments might have to be made. After all, these were quite unusual circumstances, and some of the windows I’d measured didn’t have their moldings yet  during construction. However, much to my delight, there wasn’t a single wrinkle or difficulty in fit. Perfect! Even 2700 miles away!

We can find fabrics as low as $25 a yard, or as high as $300 a yard, so it is difficult to answer when people ask me how much a drapery project may cost. Additionally, a Roman shade takes less fabric than a fully-functioning panel does, so there are many variables when it comes to choosing fabrics and styles. Although a fully-functioning panel may be the most expensive option, it will save money on blinds, offers complete privacy, and room-darkening features that a client may absolutely require. With all of these variables, window treatments can run $150-$2500.

The variables apply to all aspects of home furnishings. Sofas can cost $800-$5000, dining tables $500-$5000, and so on.

So, how much will it cost? Much of it depends upon you, your needs, your tastes, your budget. Speak openly with your designer, discuss what is most important to you. Do you just “want to get it done now,” or do you want to stretch things out to be able to afford top quality? Or, is your balance somewhere between the two? Don’t be afraid that if you tell your designer that you are willing to spend $10,000 on something, that she is then going to go out of her way to spend every last penny. She wouldn’t be in business very long if that were her approach. As a designer, it’s my job to see how all of the pieces can fit: goals, budget, style and taste. It’s a challenge I enjoy while I help you to create an environment that is uniquely yours, reflecting the lives of the people who live within the walls of your own home sweet home.