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Hiring an interior designer - cost?

63 replies

EyesDoMoreThanSee · 02/09/2012 17:03

We bought a fantastic 1930s semi a month ago, having lived here a while I know that some rooms are great and need no change in colour (the hall and bathroom) and other rooms are just horrendous colours! Like orange, purple and bright pink!

However I though I know what I wanted to do with the colour scheme but cannot get my head around it. I would usually wait a while until inspiration comes to me but I have invited a great deal of people over for various events throughout Christmas and I would terribly vain I know like the downstairs finished.

I have looked on various websites and I have bought magazines - but we are working with an existing colour scheme to a certain degree, and also the magazines do have a tendency to focus on decor that is 'one trend' whereas I want to be able to use pieces we already have.

So. I am considering hiring an interior designer to give me colour advice, has anyone done this? We are East of England some way from London, I have no idea about costs! DH thinks I am bonkers but right now he owes me bigtime so I might be able to persuade him.


OP posts:
kensingtonkat · 02/09/2012 18:34

Farrow and Ball colour consultants are your friend. It's years since I used one but it was about £150 and that was redeemable against paint.

You could also consider using a stylist - especially one who specialises in presenting homes for sale as they're used to tiny budgets and to using what you have. I believe the going rate is about £400 per day so not cheap, but could be money well spent as it will give you lots of new ideas for the short term and the future and prevent mistakes.

I'd steer well clear of interior designers - their business model is based on persuading you to buy new stuff (they get 30% trade commission on everything they recommend to you), and on getting you to use as much fabric and wallpaper as possible (60% margin), resulting in ridiculously over-elaborate and frou-frou curtains and blinds. If they charge by the hour, or a project fee, you may find you're looking at several hundred pounds per room in consultancy fees before you've bought so much as a cushion.

kensingtonkat · 02/09/2012 18:35

And yes, voice of bitter experience speaking here Blush

fresh · 02/09/2012 19:19

Ahem. A few words from an ex-interior designer. I would have worked on an hourly rate to do some colour advice, which would have included painting up some A2 sized boards to bring back to show the client in situ.

And I wish the margin on fabric and wallpaper was 60%! Nowhere near, and it's also not true that the commission on 'everything else' is 30%.

I would hate to have left a client feeling they'd been pressurised into buying frou frou stuff if that wasn't what they wanted. Recommendations are the best form of marketing, so I always tried to leave clients happy.

It's true there are some terrible and pushy designers out there. But I could tell you some stories about clients....... (this is why I'm an ex-designer!)

Pannacotta · 02/09/2012 19:19

I have done Interiors work mostly before I had the DCs and I would charge clients by the hour, around £20.
I mainly helped with choosing colours/fabrics/flooring/lighting etc rather than a mark up on supplying any of the above.

No one I helped paid out hundered of pounds per room so cannot agree with the above post, but appreciate that everyone works differently.

I always offered a free consulation at their home to see if we got on ok and they were happy with what I could offer and from that I could usually get a good feel for what they liked and would suggest colours/samples based on this meeting.

I am based in Norfolk, happy to chat further if it would help. Feel free to pm me!

MyNeighbourIsStrange · 02/09/2012 19:23

The interior designers on TV put me off such a service. Can you load some pics on your profile?

EyesDoMoreThanSee · 02/09/2012 19:25

Hey pannacotta, I am in Norfolk! Will pm you.

Kensington Kat I really like F&B, I did think they wereoutside my price range but having seen the price of dulux paint today I am gobsmacked. That's a whole other thread though!

Fresh, thank you, I will tread carefully in who I use and be quite open about what I expect.

OP posts:
miomio · 02/09/2012 19:26

Have you discovered and set up your ideasbook? Is fab.

EyesDoMoreThanSee · 02/09/2012 19:35

I do houzz (so to speak) but mostly use Pinterest

OP posts:
Bintang · 02/09/2012 20:02

Actually, pinterest is great for ideas.
Another thing i one can do is to look at similar properties on rightmove, usually looking at more expensive properties, that are well decorated, loads of good ideas about what works well and what doesn't.
If you find items you really like, you can always ask MN to track them down/source similar for you! Grin

thisoldgirl · 03/09/2012 10:44

There are different kinds of interior designers. You could pay £100 to Laura Ashley or John Lewis for their 'in-house design service', which consists of them employing a shopgirl on minimum wage to put together a mood board for you, or you might find a local mum who's been on a few KLC courses and treats the work as a paying hobby, or you might decide to go for the Kelly Hoppen or Nina Campbell signature style with a 6-figure design fee.

The most common type is the one with a shop that flogs fabrics, papers and paints and has trade accounts with furniture wholesalers. I'm guessing this was the type Kensington employed.

I've used them myself and on behalf of clients and to be honest their most useful function is project management, which saves time and hassle if you're in another part of the country or really busy at work. Some will pass on their trade discounts to you in return for a design fee, and this can mean you effectively get the project management done for free.

Pendeen · 03/09/2012 11:04


" I always offered a free consulation at their home to see if we got on ok and they were happy with what I could offer and from that I could usually get a good feel for what they liked and would suggest colours/samples based on this meeting. "

An excellent way to work, wholeheartedly agree with this approach.

kensingtonkat · 03/09/2012 11:26

The most common type is the one with a shop that flogs fabrics, papers and paints and has trade accounts with furniture wholesalers. I'm guessing this was the type Kensington employed.

Hole in one.

I might go on a course myself, one of these days, often see them advertised in Living Etc. That may pay for itself too!

noddyholder · 03/09/2012 11:28

I charge as a % of the whole room.

Mandy21 · 03/09/2012 12:35

My sister used one recently, charged £50 per room (4 bedrooms) to come to the house, talk about what she had in mind and then prepare a mood board for each room with colours, fabrics, sample wall papers etc. She wasn't under any obligation to go ahead with the work afterwards - she was independent. That was SW London.

fresh · 03/09/2012 14:51

There are as you can see lots of ways for interior designers to charge, and as it's an unregulated industry (unlike architects) there is no set method.

To do the job properly takes time. I used to visit the client for an initial free consultation to take a proper brief including photos, details of items to be kept, use of the room etc. I would then write to the client confirming the brief and agreeing a set fee, 50% of which was due as a deposit. I'd then return, measure up the room, take colour references of items to be kept, more pictures, more chatting with the client.

Then I'd put together at least two schemes which could include lighting plans, furniture layout drawings, samples of all finishes, pictures of suggested furniture (including taking them to try out sofas for comfort if necessary) and lighting etc etc.

The chosen scheme would then be tweaked and costed. Costing a room scheme can take a day at least. Finally the client would get the full quotation including samples of all the finishes proposed and pics of furniture and lighting proposed. Second half of fee was then payable.

I thought this was the fairest way for the client and for me. Taking a % of the room scheme only works if the client buys anything, and therefore there's (a) the risk that they take all your ideas and then try and source things off the internet themselves so you get nothing at all and (b) the risk to the client that you propose a more expensive scheme to get a bigger fee.

If the client went ahead, I would charge retail prices for everything, and my time would be paid for by the margin I made by negotiating trade discounts. For this the client got their deliveries managed by me, project management of decorators, builders etc and general problem-solving. This is where a designer really works for their money as they are the first person to be phoned either by the client or the builder/decorator/curtain maker, so they're stuck in the middle.

To be fair, I was working at the higher end of the market so five figure sums per room were the norm. But even then, it's really hard to make a proper living, even without the overheads of a shop. Which is why I don't anymore. Grin

Sorry, not meant to be a rant, just wanted to put the other side of the story.....

noddyholder · 03/09/2012 14:59

It has become less lucrative over the years rather than more which is why I do whole houses now! Grin

fresh · 03/09/2012 15:03

Me too, except the only client is me! Am following in your footsteps on the property development front. After all these years telling other people what to do, I'm putting my money where my mouth has been. (Yes, I know, crap time to do it Grin)

noddyholder · 03/09/2012 15:12

Grin. It isn't a good time no but if you don't rely on a rising market and have a good finished product you'll be fine. Know your market has always worked for me.

fresh · 03/09/2012 15:22

After several years obsessing over Rightmove, and sticking to projects in my home town, I bloody well ought to know it by now Grin.

noddyholder · 03/09/2012 16:01

Every house I have sold has been to who I thought would buy it!

Pannacotta · 03/09/2012 20:21

Eyes as I said, do feel free to pm me, happy just to give some advice.

EyesDoMoreThanSee · 03/09/2012 22:10

Thank you - have tried to pm three times tonight but the small DD is still up and running riot! ARGH!

OP posts:
WAD · 03/09/2012 22:36

Can you not just paint everything white while you search for inspiration? That way it will look clean, white, bright and also quite smart for your guests, and should work with your existing furniture etc.

I actually did this once when I bought a house with dodgy decor - I was young, single, didn't have much money and just painted the whole house white. That included the floor boards which I painted with (you've guessed) white floor paint after I ripped up the swirly floral carpets.

I actually really liked the finished result and it stayed a bit longer than I'd planned!

WAD · 03/09/2012 22:36

PS The house in question was also a 30s semi!

Pannacotta · 03/09/2012 22:36

Oh poor you!
Was still settling DS2 at 9 tonight, so I sympathise.
Will pm you tomorrow, off to bed now...

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