Saturday, September 29, 2012

Applying the Twenty Percent Rule? = Simplifying The Math of Interiors

Most interior designers would much rather be involved in the process of creating rather than dissecting budgets, but it’s absolutely necessary when it comes to good project management.  (The reason many of us over a certain age keep our hair colorists in good stead as this is often the cause of our grey roots!)


(Oh, if my grey transition would only be this lovely!)

When it comes to investing in interior design or remodeling projects, many folks have an unrealistic view of what the costs might be.  You know the scenario . . . a friend shared how they got a “deal” on labor . . . not mentioning that the contractor is either out of business, (due to poor cash flow), or the friend really paid more but had a desire to ‘inflate’ their financial savvy.  It could also be that the multitude of shows and DIY design features don’t begin to realistically cover the cost of labor and time – or – an interior professional’s fees.

I’ve certainly worked with enough clients during the home building and remodeling process to know there are surprises along the way.  It’s usually not the surprise of what one might find while tearing out a wall.   It’s the lack of proper expectations built into the front end of a project . . . diving in, head first, without doing some research and planning.

How on earth can you have a crystal ball to keep your investment in line?  First, let’s chat a bit about product selection.  For example, let’s take a simple light fixture selection or update. 

How often did you get a proposal that excited you, cost-wise, to only find out your lighting allowance provided for this?:


When you thought you could at least get this:


Or maybe even a step up to this:



Or you really had your sights on this:


I think it’s easy to see where things can get out of control and the sighs of disappointment can be heard around the world!  There’s nothing worse than going from excitement to deflation during the selections’ process in a quick minute. 

Even though my mission is to help create the most amazing look while honoring important funds, I’ve got to have more wiggle room than what’s provided for in image number one.  Otherwise, quite honestly, I shouldn’t be in the picture. You see, if I’m charged with finding a piece that at least hits somewhere between image 2 and 3, and I’ve still only got the dollars allotted to image 1, not only is it unrealistic, my design fee will be of no value because I’ll be spending all of it trying to make the magic happen without being able to buy the proper pixie dust.

So, what’s a consumer to do?  Here are four helpful hints:

  1. It makes a lot of sense to do some research if you’re not sure what to expect.  If you’re building or remodeling, visit a few stores/shops to get an idea of what you like and what numbers could be attached. 
  2. Find out why there is a difference between the price of item A and item B.  Take lots of photos and notes. 
  3. Decide what areas are priorities so you’ll be better equipped to focus on them while not getting sidelined by others. 
  4. Don’t go in for the “art of the deal”.  Go in for the “art of your home”.  Be inspired as well as look for things which help you to live a better, more functional life.

An added hint, for good measure: 

While in today’s time it may take a little more than adding 20% to your budget to cover extras, surprises, or “just have-to-have’s”, it’s still a good solid number from which to begin to set aside in your planning, after establishing a reasonable starting point. 



(For every Ben Franklin you have planned to spend, add a President Jackson to have his back!)


And don’t forget to set aside a special “purse” for your interior designer to help your project come to fruition.  We can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make for “experiencing the best about design”.  That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it!

Design - where perfection is an ideal, tempered with reality, and my team strives to find the balance. If this post resonated with you, drop me a line to find out more about my design services. Now booking into 2013!

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