A potential client recently asked me to lower my hourly rate for a design job. This person said I should just come by sometime when I was already in the neighborhood, implying that such an arrangement would somehow correlate to a reduced fee. I get it; they couldn't afford my services and were trying to find a way to make things work for their budget. But there's a reason I charge that fee, and I stood firm.
There are quite a few factors that go into deciding what to charge, along with quite a bit of anxiety! My goal is to see my customers are happy with the service they receive and I get paid a living wage.
Part of my rate takes into account the training and certifications that I have acquired. I have an eye for design and I've spent years training that eye. Which means I can walk into a room and change the layout to improve the flow pretty quickly. I can sum up your style and direct you towards the items and shops that will suit that style and therefore you don't spend hours wasted searching for what you like. I can help you with the technical aspects of design like how big should a chandelier be, what length and how should curtains be hung, what size furniture will you need for your space, etc.
Many people are pretty good at pointing out what they don't like, but are hard pressed to state what their favorite design style is. If you are not sure what direction you want to go in, or aren't sure what your style is, I can help you figure that out. It's sometimes hard to articulate what your style is, but you know it when you see it. I am able to review what you have in your home, what you are drawn to and give you a style definition. This then dictates what items and colors you are going to want in your space, and once again can save you hours of fruitless searching.
There are countless books, articles and blog posts about color. Color seems to be frightening and often someone thinks they want color in their home, but they aren't sure what color or where to put it so they freeze and don't move forward. I help people embrace color if they want to, or show them how to use neutrals so they don't make a room feel cold and sterile. I'll admit my favorite color is grey! I had a client recently who was under a time crunch and could not pick a color for her bathroom. I came by and was able to quickly get the look and feel for her home and the direction she was trying to go to for the bathroom and narrow her choices down to two. After she got the samples she was easily able to make a choice.
Designers are great at giving people options and then helping people make choices. Most of us get decision fatigue. When you research a sofa and there are so many options it gets difficult sometimes to narrow it down and pick one. I can walk you through that process so you don't get stuck or just pick the first thing you see. I will give you options and then walk you through those options so you get the look and feeling that you want for your home.
While I would love to spend every moment of my working day designing for clients, the reality is that I have to run a business. When I charge $75 per hour I only get paid when I am directly working on client's projects. That means when I am doing marketing, finances, or administrative work I am making $0 per hour. That hourly rate also pays for things like my annual renewal of my certification, courses that I take to increase my skill set, paying my accountant to do my taxes, website hosting, software costs (including the software I use to draft floor plans) and the list goes on.
The same holds true for a lot of independent consultants. Their rate, or what they charge, covers their knowledge and expertise, but also all of the administrative costs that it takes to run a business and pay their employees.
When you are looking to hire a consultant I would ask yourself three questions:
- Can I do this? If the answer is yes then go to the next question. If it is no then hire someone.
- Do I have the time to do this? If the answer is yes then do it, but if it is no then hire someone.
- Can I afford to do this? If you answered yes, then please hire someone, but if you answer no I would suggest saving up enough money until you can do the project properly. Setting a budget is the very first thing I ask my clients to do.
You definitely want to get the most 'bang for your buck' but keep in mind that sometimes you get what you pay for.