Frequently Asked Questions
We get a lot of questions from potential customers. To simplify things, we have decided to post answers to these commonly asked questions here for everyone to see. Don’t worry, you can ask us a question from this list if you talk to us in person, we won’t mind.
How much do you charge?
For a detailed list of our rates, please refer to our pricing page. You’ll find that we’re below what other business in the interior design industry charges, especially for smaller projects less than 40 hours. Most firms won’t even touch projects of that size, which is the main reason we formed Design Inside. We believe that everyone deserves a well designed interior space.
What is a typical project like?
We are commonly asked this question; however there is not an easy answer. Once a project begins, you will be in constant communication with us. We do a lot of work by email and phone since it is an incredibly efficient form of communication, and allows quicker turn-around time. Typically, we send project plans, product selections, and bounce ideas off of each other by email. We will also have periodic conference calls. Often times, about once or twice during a project, a designer will come to your project site and review the project. It is amazing how much can be accomplished in an hour on-site meeting.
If you are not a huge fan of email, don’t fret. We can easily work with you over the phone and send faxes or drop off samples when appropriate. Turn-around time is a little longer with this method; however, the end design is just as amazing.
Can you help me pick paint colors, and nothing else?
Yes, we can!
We believe that wall color (and lighting) is one of the most important aspects of a beautiful space; however, picking paint colors is a task that is more difficult than many would like to admit. During the paint selection process, a designer from our team will arrive at your home for an intense paint selection session that typically lasts 1 – 2 hours. At the end of the meeting, you will have a list of all of the paint colors, sheen and surfaces that we think would look great in your home. We work with all of the major brands of paints, so you can either hire a painter to perform the actual painting, or roll up your sleeves and do it yourself.
How is a designer assigned to my project?
One of the company’s best attributes is that you get the entire design team (Kathryn, Bill, Abigail, etc.) to work on your project. For all projects, you will have one lead designer who is your main point of contact; however, all team members are involved in the final design of your project, leading to a more creative solution with faster turn-around times.
If two designers are working on my project, won’t that cost twice as much?
There are only a handful of tasks that require more than one designer to be involved at the same time, in which case you will still pay the normal hourly rate for each designer. Typically these tasks are the: initial consultation, intense shopping sessions, the paint selection process, the final installation/configuration of the rooms or any other time that you would like to have both designers on site. The reason we involve multiple designers during particular phases is because we have found that better results are obtained in a shorter amount of time due to the instant collaboration between the designers.
Will I get a cool 3D rendering or sample/furniture board like I see on HGTV?
Since we are always trying to be smart with design hours, we typically do not make 3D renderings, furniture boards or other time consuming documentation unless absolutely essential. A rendering can take 1-2 days, a design board can take hours to cut and glue together. It’s typically not a great use of time, especially if the ideas presented were off-base. If a layout or selection doesn’t make sense, please let us know, we can quickly sketch it up, walk you through it, or make a 2-d computer drawing of how it will look in a space (cabinetry is the only area where a 3-d drawing has proven worthwhile). We find that walking through the design or putting blue tape on walls/floors is the best approach for communicating what to expect, often in conjunction with a sketch for general decoration.
Will we drive around to different stores to see the furniture in person?
Typically we do not go store-to-store to shop for individual pieces. Shopping for furniture in person greatly reduces the number of pieces available to you, it takes much longer to travel between stores and many times, the piece you want may not be on the showroom floor anyways. To recreate the shopping experience at home, we try to gather as many photos, specifications and product samples as possible to help you make an informed decision. All of this information is presented in our design sheets.
If you are not comfortable ordering the bulk of your furniture from a printed catalog image and absolutely must see and touch most of furniture before buying it, let us know at the initial consultation and we will be sure to budget more time in our estimates to allow for in-person shopping.
Will my project be unveiled to me as one big surprise like they do on TV?
Unfortunately, no. There won’t be a large group of people chanting “Move That Bus” as we unveil your new home to you. Tactics like this make for great TV (when sponsors are paying for everything) but don’t work well in the real world. We here at Design Inside take a phased approach to designing spaces.
Our approach is to get a few of the basic pieces selected, then, go over fabrics, finishes, rugs, & paint at the same time. We need the sofa and chair form selected in order to determine what fabric would look good on it. Also, if we think we like a particular chair fabric but also like a particular rug and they don’t go together, we can quickly reselect. Similarly, if we wanted a particular paint color but the fabric we like is too much like the paint, we can reselect the paint. This is a less glamorous approach than how it is portrayed in the media but it is how designers can account for their clients’ specific tastes. We often will update the floorplan/elevation drawings to show the color of the rug and fabrics of the furniture, just as a reference point to compare with our visualization. In the end, it is more important to us that your style is expressed in its best form.
How do you make your money?
We make our money by charging a flat hourly rate for any work that a designer performs on your project. Unlike other firms in the industry, we do not charge for minor expenses like postage, phone calls, mileage, faxes, etc. mainly because it is a pain to track all of these small incidentals, and nobody likes to feel like they are being nickel and dimed.
Other firms mark up merchandise, do you?
Merchandise markup is a common way for design firms to make money; this is a common practice because many firms have exclusive relationships with furniture vendors that grant them access to pieces that you could not get on your own because you are not in the industry. Because of this exclusive access, many design firms get a discounted price from the vendor which allows room to mark-up the product. The amount of markup, like many things in life, depends on the product and its exclusivity.
Similar to other firms in the industry, we may mark-up merchandise that we purchase for you; however this is typically only done if we can get a better price for you than you could get by going to the vendor and purchasing the item yourself. For instance, if you find an ottoman you love; a vendor may charge you $500 for that item (or may not even let you know the price because you are not in the industry). By having us work with the vendor directly, we may be able to purchase the same ottoman for slightly less, and pass along some of the savings to you. Where possible, we will discount products off retail. Because vendors do not provide a uniform discount to the design industry, it is impossible to provide a standard discount rate.
What is the process for purchasing merchandise?
After the design process is complete we will begin the merchandise purchase process. For most projects, merchandise will be purchased by you, Design Inside and Contractors depending on the type of item. For items purchasable through Design Inside, the following prices will be listed for you:
- Total Product Price - The total price of the product plus freight necessary to get the item to the offices or warehouse of Design Inside for inspection, receiving and storage until it is ready for delivery to your home.
- Tax - Total sales tax due on the product. We hate this as much as you do.
- Receiving - Any receiving costs associated with receiving the product.
- Delivery - Let us take care of hauling the heavy boxes up 3 flights of stairs in 6” of snow and drop the items off in your home in the appropriate room.
- Assembly - The price for Design Inside to assemble various items like tables, cabinets, benches, etc. If you cringe at the idea of using hex wrenches, tightening cam bolts and following visual diagrams, this service is for you. We can assemble most furniture; however we are unable to provide assembly services for items that require the expertise of a licensed professional. We can do a lot of things, but wiring up a 3-way dimmer switch is not one of them.
After you have reviewed the list, simply sign the form, provide payment (cash, check or credit card), and let us take care of the rest!
What if I don’t like a piece of furniture I bought? Will you take it back?
When purchasing furniture for your home, 90% of the time you are ordering your furniture from our design sheets which will include few photos of the product and as many details about the product (size, weight, etc.) that we can provide. When we order the furniture, every order is a custom order for your specific piece from a furniture manufacturer. Because of the custom nature of the furniture orders, all sales are final and we are unable to accept returns.
Throughout all of the years we have been doing this, we have only had a hand-full of situations where the customer was completely unhappy with the piece once it arrived. We completely understand that this can be a frustrating situation and will try to work with you to find a reasonable solution. Sometimes this may mean that we have another customer that is willing to buy the piece from you, sometimes the manufacturer will take it back for a restocking fee, other times this means that we are unable to do anything and can’t take it back. We have had a great track-record so far, however, we like to be up-front with you and our policy.
If you are the type of person that is uncomfortable with ordering items online or through a catalog, let us know up-front and we can focus our furniture searches on big-box stores that may have a floor sample that you can sit on and look at. Keep in mind though, finding your exact piece on a showroom floor is becoming difficult to do and will typically increase the number of design hours required for your project since we will have to call around to local stores to see if they have a sample on the showroom floor.
What if I have a really tight budget and want to purchase most of the items on my own?
After the design is complete, we are more than happy to provide you a shopping list of the items you wish to purchase. This list will have the product name, model and description. Please note that if you purchase items on your own, many times things will end up costing more since you will not be able to take advantage of any trade discounts.
Can you get me a discount at Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, Target, etc.?
Typically, we are not able to obtain merchandise purchased the big brick and mortar stores like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Target, Room & Board, etc. at a wholesale price (aka: a discounted price), which means that we pay what you pay.
Why do you make so many references to ‘the industry’?
Our goal as a firm is to make sure that you make a well informed decision when looking for help with designing that interior that you deserve. There are great interior design firms out there that do great work, and there are other firms that are not so great. As much as we want to work on your project, we want to make sure that you are making an informed decision. Why do we do this you ask? Well, we do it this way because we like it when other companies are straightforward and treat us like this, and since we (Kathryn and Bill) are the bosses of this company, we can run the business however we want (hehehe). It also helps foster a closer relationship with our clients, making what we do a whole lot more fun for everyone involved.