Tea Over Interiors Episode 25: What To Expect From A Design Consultation


In today’s episode Dee and Alicja discuss what to expect from a design consultation. We discuss the importance of knowing your budget and trusting your designer with your vision. — This episode is sponsored by · Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/teaoverinteriors/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/teaoverinteriors/support

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Dee: [00:00:00] I’m Dee

Alicja: I’m Alicja

Dee: And welcome to Tea over Interiors

Today, we’re actually going to be talking about what to expect with a design consultation.

Alicja: That’s good stuff. people should be aware of what they should accept them, what they shouldn’t accept and what they should expect and what they should not accept.

Two different things.

Dee: Yes. While everyone runs their business differently, we’re going to give you the most common, best practices that we know of and we’ve seen, and we practice ourselves.

Before we get to that, Alicia, I need to know girl, what you sippin’ on?.

Alicja: Oh, I’m some white pumpkin tea. What’s in this white pumpkin tea. You’re always sending me the best.

Dee: I am sending you the best teas, because guess what? Soon I’m going to be telling you where I get all these teas from Alicja.

Alicja: I know…

Dee: You are not going to be in the dark. Okay, Alicja. So your white pumpkin is delicate [00:01:00] pumpkin with notes of cream, coconut and a whisper of spice.

Alicja: Lovely.

Dee: I love the description of these teas from this company. It’s so cute. So I, am sipping on salted caramel. Yeah. It’s a flavor that I like.

It’s time for Dee’s randomness, Alicja, so did you know that. Many people actually aren’t opposed to buying a haunted home. I’m quoting, to buying a haunted home, data shows it. In a survey conducted by realtor.com 33% of people said they were open to living in a haunted house. 25% said they might be open to the idea. So can you believe that?

Alicja: I can believe it because I don’t think they really believe the house is haunted. I think that’s what it is. If they knew it was legitimately haunted, I don’t think they would be messing with that so

Dee: yeah.

Alicja: What do you think?

Dee: I don’t think so either.

I think it would be, it would make for like a fun story. Like, can you believe this house was haunted and then like [00:02:00] nothing happens. Like the people that moved into the Amityville house after everybody said it was haunted. They lived there for like all those years and it was like, yeah, no, nothing happened.

Anyway, on to today’s topic, Alicja, what to expect when you decide after you’ve spoken to a designer and you’ve had the discovery call with them and they say, you know what, let’s move forward. I want you to come out to my house and check it out.

Everything that I’ve talked to you about and, you know, Figure out where we go from there. So as designer, your response is.

Alicja: As a designer, your response is, great. I would, love to come and look at your home. And what we’ll do is we’ll do a walk through the property. We’ll talk about the rooms that you want to focus on . And I would love for you to spend some time thinking about what your budget is for the furniture fixtures and equipment, whatever it is that the customer wants to purchase to put into the [00:03:00] house. Then, if the customer is able to do that, at least when the designer comes, the designer can give the client some ideas about what needs to be done in order to pull all of those items together.

Maybe they can take some very general measurements. They can discuss what the deliverables will be, whether the client wants them to drawings and layouts and floor plans based planning, what it is that will be delivered upon completion and in what progressive stages. Will you first be presenting a plan or will you do a breakdown of the entire house as opposed to doing just one room at a time?

And then will you go back and decide which rooms you’re going to do and how much you’re going to allocate financially, you know, budget wise to those rooms. But budget is really, really key. And a lot of people don’t want to talk, but they, they have a [00:04:00] feeling that if the conversation goes too much in the direction of.

The designer may sell to the budget or designed to the budget. So they want the designer to tell them what the budget can be. I have limited my 35 years of doing this, that people do have a budget. They know exactly how much they can allocate to the project. They may not know to tell you because they think you’re going to back into that amount.

Or they may not want to tell you because they feel a little embarrassed about it. But my thought is you are dealing with a really good designer. If the designer will give you an idea . I tell people like, if you do it this way, a hundred percent start to finish 10 grand or whatever twenty-five thousand, 5,000, whatever, depending on what the scope of work is.

If I put it out there, it kind of like diffuses the mystery surrounding how much money someone is going to have to come up with. And so what I like to do is I just put that figure out there and let the customer, or the client respond to what [00:05:00] they think is appropriate or what they’re comfortable with. And I say, okay, well, what’s your sweet spot? Where did you want to be?

And they’ll tell you, well, I really wasn’t comfortable spending more than blah, blah, blah. Okay. So this is what you could get from. And I’m going to tell you, it really helps to get the ball rolling because when people don’t want to talk about money, you don’t need to be there as a designer. They do not need you there because it is a profession.

It is a, it is work and designers need to be paid for the work that they’re going to do. Now let’s talk about what that work is, or maybe you want to first just. Continue the conversation about what they can expect.

Dee: Yeah. Every designer is different. You took the approach of telling us what would happen when you show up.

Basically you walk through the property, find out that. Of work that the client is looking to do. And then you sit down with them and you talk about whether or not they figured out their budget. And if they haven’t figured out that budget, we have formulas [00:06:00] and ways of showing them how to think about their budget and what they need to think about when they are planning their budget.

Because if they only have a certain amount of total, they have to think about all the different people that are going to be involved in their project, that they have to be. Painters, the designer fees, the furniture, the fixtures, the plumber, the electrician, depending on what’s happening. So I’m going to take it from this approach that every designer is different.

So some designers may come out and not charge you. If you live within a certain radius of them, right. They may come out, not charge you, meet you. But they’re not going to give you any basic ideas about your house. They’re basically going to come and interview you and you’re interviewing them. And that’s basically what it’s going to be to see if you can even work together.

Alicja: In my opinion, that doesn’t need to be done in person.

Dee: Should know whether or not you want to work with a person once you’re on the phone with them

Alicja: zoom and with all other kinds of [00:07:00] technology, you don’t even need to zoom.

You need to, you know, you need to use some of those wonderful tools that are out here nowadays. So you don’t have to go, especially if it is a distance.

Dee: Exactly. And so if a designer does charge you to come out, usually it’s because when they get there, Yes, there’s going to be the interview process, but they might get a little more in depth.

Every designer is different, they might start giving you some general ideas about what you can do with your space. Of course, that’s not their final idea because they really need to sit down and think it through and know your budget and everything.

But, you know, this is the time where they’re kind of being very creative and in their thoughts, when they’re looking at your. That’s one thing you have to think about when you do pay a designer for their time, because basically you’re paying for their time and their expertise. And usually the consultation will take between an hour to two hours of their time, as well as your time.

But this is something that you’re looking to invest in and that you’re [00:08:00] calling a professional in to help you with that investment. So you have to think about it that. Sure you’re paying the person for their time, but you have to remember the wealth of knowledge that they have when it comes to telling your designer your budget.

It is imperative that you know what you want to pay for design fees and what you’re hoping to spend on everything else. The designer is not going to try to take all the money that you say that you want to spend, because we do have trade only. Still available to us that can save our clients a lot of money.

And on top of that, most of us pride ourselves coming in under your budget. It makes us excited because you thought that you were going to have to pay something and you didn’t because the designer’s like, Hey, guess what? We came in under budget. So. Don’t be afraid to communicate and talk to your designer about your expectations and how [00:09:00] much money you are willing to spend, because some designers may have to walk away because it might be an unrealistic number for what you want.

So that’s something to think about. What say you will.

Alicja: I totally agree.

Okay. So. I had something I wanted to share, in reference to people being uncomfortable, telling their designer what they want to spend,

Dee: It’s really an investment. Your home. You’ve already made this huge investment to buy this property. And this property is going to appreciate over time.

But also you have to live there and you want to be comfortable. So it’s really an investment. You make an investment in your home and yourself and in your wellbeing. That’s all.

Alicja: I agree. I don’t think all the money needs to be spent in one place. I think a good you’re to your point, a good designer will talk to their client about how to save money.

give the DEI wire consultation. I don’t know if you’ve done this, but I know

Just not too long ago, the client wants to be able to do their [00:10:00] own house.

I respect it. So you need someone with years of experience to help you to give you. Roadmap, you know, they give you marching orders and I can do that. I used to be an educator, right. So I can definitely help you to map out the plant. So I go in, you pay me a fee for an hour and I go in and I leave you with a floor plan sketch that I, you know, have hands.

Of your space. I tell you resources and where you can go to get the things that you need. I’ve done a color analysis and consultation so that you know what colors to paint and you know, what colors and fabrics to look for in order to accessorize your space, where to put plants, where not to put plants, where to put the furniture, what size of the furniture I’ve done that.

And people appreciate that. And I can leave you with a bunch of resources and people to call.

And while I’m with you and that one hour, I can even send you a bunch of. To further care [00:11:00] and assess the rays and finishes that. I think that I’ve recommended that you should go buy and where to get them. Now that to me is worth more than $500. That’s all right. I mean, that gives you your marching orders.

It’s like, this is what you need to do over the next six months or whatever money you have. And this is what it could theoretically cost. And

Dee: they could buy it. Yes, slowly. Yeah. That’s another thing that I’ve done before. And even like, people have done things slowly and then they may want to call and just have another hour of my time to go over with the things that they purchased and make sure that it looks good and that they’re on the right track.

And so some people like to pay that way. You know, they have some idea of what they can do. They can take direction and then you kind of just guide them maybe by the hour, every so often when they need to speak to you, they just pay the hour or whatever, or two hours that they need. You. Well, if they need you to come shopping with them, to make sure to put things together.

I’ve done shopping trips with [00:12:00] people before that’s always fun or you could shop for them


Alicja: I have a client who’s who has me on. ‘ cause she’s been working on her house for over a year and she’ll send me an hourly rate for maybe I’ll talk to her six, five or six times.

And it’s funny, like I’ll just randomly, I don’t even bill her. Cause she’s so honest how much time I’ve spent with her. She’s a registered nurse. And she’ll say to me, all of a sudden, I’ll just get money in my account. It’ll be like her husband transferring who’s Dell or something.

And it’s because she knows I’ve spent over an hour. Talking to her or emailing or texting, and she’ll send me a bunch of stuff. Just say, what do you think about this? I’m going to buy this for the bedroom. I need your feedback on this. And I’ll send her a bunch of stuff and I’ll say, there’s no, go buy it from here.

This is better for your house, which lamps is. And she’ll just send me money. I mean, that’s like a unique scenario because she understands. What I’m giving her as valuable. So then there’s

Dee: That’s the other option too, to have a designer on retainer. If you like to do a lot of DIY or.

Alicja: Absolutely.

As, as you [00:13:00] said, I really want to work benefit my clients. I want to work in a way that is going to make my clients. Good and fit their budget and fits their way that they spend money. There’s no formula for this. There’s no one in everybody situation, because there are so many different scenarios, right?

Dee: Exactly. So many different scenarios. And you know, when you’re honest with someone upfront like, listen, this is what I want to do. Am I being realistic with what I have, and I need your help, but how can I get your help? And what capacity can I get your help? And I think that’s important,

Alicja: I rather have a client say to me, listen, I can’t afford more than $250. I just can’t do it. Good. Let’s talk about how I can benefit you at that rate. I’m revving you come to me with a realistic, that you don’t come to me talking about. I can’t do this, or I won’t do that. You’re putting a roadblock is creating resistance [00:14:00] and you’re not even allowing me to come up with the formula that I will be able to present to you. That will make you get what you want.


Dee: Exactly.

Alicja: I’m sure. There’s things that I’m forgetting, that I’ve done in the past. I love you’re reminding me of the kind of people who just need, oh, I got a virtual consultation. I had a client call me and say, listen, I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas. I want you to stay in the space. I don’t need you to come here, but I do need you to look at it.

But my wife and I, not agreeing. And I need for you to weight in on these things, where should I spend my money? And they walked me through the space. They gave me ideas about, you know, what this one was thinking and what she was thinking and how they’re not agreeing. And I gave them. 35 years of experience on how to resolve those challenges.

And it was money well-spent there’s so many ways to do this thing. I think it’s, if there’s a designer out there that will tell you that they only work one way, shame on them, you know, because there’s [00:15:00] so many different,

Dee: no people have to work with what makes them comfortable, you know? So I respect that.

If they only do virtual consultations or eat design, then they, they only do eat design. I respect it. There’s reasons why people do these different things. You know, they may have different scheduling situations. They need to be home for their kids at a certain time.

Alicja: But I’m not talking about that.

I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about you have to be flexible because there are so many scenarios out there unless you just don’t want to deal with those scenarios. You don’t want it. If you don’t want to deal with a client who doesn’t have $50,000, you know what I mean? That’s fine. No, you got to know yourself and you have to know what you’re willing to do.

Dee: Yeah. Like I said the design for my used to work at it was like, yeah. Our clients probably made no less than 3 million a year. Yeah. So, you know, any less than that, that’s out the budget.

Alicja: No problem. That’s your target market? Once [00:16:00] again, nothing wrong with that.

No, there’s all different types

If you just need pure aesthetics, then you know, you don’t have to call an interior designer either.

We spoke about that before, but some designers do like to do both. They’ll do purist aesthetic and they’ll do their design. You know, when it comes to like working with different trades and actually changing up the space physically, so you have that too.

Dee: If you want to work with a designer, you just, like I said, you find out what capacity you could work with them and they will let you know, you know? Yeah. We’ll definitely let you know. All right. So I think that’s good for. I think people can understand what a design consultation is and what it entails.

Next week, we’ll do part two of this discussion, which is more in depth analysis of creating the budget, as well as talking about renovations.

So thanks guys for joining us for tea over interiors. If you have any questions for us about today’s episode, feel [00:17:00] free to reach [email protected] or. Fill out the form in our show notes and also you can go to http://www.toverinteriors.com and you can sign up for our newsletter.

And when you sign up for the newsletter, you could receive a free budget analysis guide to help you for your next book.

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