How to Charge your First Interior Design Client

You are reading an article on charging your first client for the installation of your unique incredibly beautify interior design. Your schooling, education about furniture, calculating space and arranging colour have come together where you are ready to market yourself and be confident that your client is getting the best quality for their money. Also, you want the relationship between your time and materials to match your financial needs. Afterall, you did not spend all of your time and resources to perform pro bono work in a market with the ability to reward you handsomely.  

Components of Interior Design 

Before you can come up with a scheme to charge your client, you will have to do a little digging to understand what they are after when talking about the interior design of their private or public space. Of course, you want to determine how they are going to use the space and how the design will fit in to general character of the community. This will be the fun part for you because you will be allowed to employ a great deal of creativity toward the project. Remember, the client may not admit it, but you are the expert in this field. The client is counting on you to deliver a product that will have incredible impact on their private or professional life. Therefore, even though you are relatively new to the field, even though you were sure about your gifts before your training, project confidence in your interaction with your client. Confidence may be the one crucial factor that trumps all other considerations. 

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Cost of Materials

Now, you have your discrete interview out of the way and your client has accepted your suggestion for a design style. Some real calculating can begin. A few ideas came to mind when you were screening your client for an overarching theme for their space. A Farmhouse design is a possibility, as your client’s space is on the outskirts of the suburbs and they want a country feel to their space. They prefer natural wood grains and lots of natural light. Therefore, you have to figure in the cost of genuine marble countertops, running on average $3000, and how to design around a potential fireplace. 

Or, the client is in the midst of a great internet startup, but prefers to have their employees in a community-designed space. There is room for function, spaces for private or team projects, and space for one-on-one competition. You will want to figure the prices of pool tables and flat-screen monitors to be strategically placed in a very modern space.

Overall, you get the idea that materials, furniture, lights and such are considerations that your client will expect you to have answered as you get closer to closing the deal. Deliver the appropriate figures with certainty, knowing that they are the ones purchasing these accoutrements. As you factor cost of furnishings and such expect to markup the retail price of those items a market average of 30%. Some professional established designers mark up the furnishings as much as 47%.

Labor Costs

You have to think about the time you spent giving your client a quality one-hour consultation. Remember, this activity consumes your time and energy and there is no reason to think that you do not have to be compensated for your valuable investment of your own resources. The time with your client could very well have been spent in another lucrative endeavor. That initial one-hour consultation is going cost your client an average $250. Billing for the completion of the installation could be a little tricky because potential construction and demolition may be a consideration on any project. Therefore, beware of potential problems when you talk with your client about the length of time you will take to complete the installation. If you feel good about giving a specific time frame and expect everything to go as planned, you can charge the client an average hourly rate of $150. 

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Unexpected Costs

The above considerations for unforeseen problems are important points to think about when you are giving your client an estimate for the job. In a space that is newly constructed, your estimate will be essentially seamless in regards to your recent education and contemporary standards in construction. Your ideas for mounting pictures and monitors will not need a great deal of adjustment. However, when your client has in mind a more creative approach to rehabilitating an older space, expect to be ready to navigate challenges with uniquely outdated construction methods. Metal studs are becoming the norm for support behind the client’s drywall, but an older building may have wooden studs that do not quite meet industry standards. Wall-anchoring methods may have to be reassessed at any moment.

Beware of that portion of drywall that is just laying on top of a concrete wall. The client is sure they want that 70lbs plasma monitor right there. The challenge is completely different if the materials behind that drywall are not what you expect. Nevertheless, as you are estimating your first couple of interior design installations, you have to break away from any naiveté about the construction of your space being easy to navigate.

Setting Your Prices

This information, and other considerations, are a great starting point for your long lucrative career in interior design. Throughout your career, you will find yourself being quite creative in the way that you bill your client for your quality work. We went over some rudimentary ideas to give you a great foundation for interacting with the client, as a new face in the interior design community.

Expect to become skilled at employing many other diverse options for charging your client. We talked about various percentage plans when we were thinking about materials. Hourly rate considerations were important for labor. Retail and commercial spaces are billed differently that home and private spaces. After a time of gathering experience in the field, you may transition to a fixed-rate model. Expect your developing eye to simply observe a space and create the invoice in your head and find that you are quite accurate, after you perform specific measurements.

That you are researching ways to charge your first few clients goes a long way to show that you are humble and teachable, marks that demonstrate that your future is oriented toward sucess.

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