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Design Fees: Why are Interior Designers So Expensive?

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While the titles Interior Decorator and Interior Designer are sometimes used interchangeably, they are distinctly different.

Interior Decorators use furniture, draperies, paint, and accessories to create an aesthetically pleasing space within an existing area. Interior Decorators do not structurally change the layout of a space, they embellish what is already there. They are often brought in after the Designer to finish the newly created space.

Interior Designers work with architects to solve structural layout difficulties to enhance the quality and functionality of a space. Oftentimes, this requires removing or adding walls, reconfiguring layouts, or completely restructuring a space.

Designers are skilled professionals who have completed many years and levels of schooling, training, internships, and testing. Most interior designers hold multiple degrees including interior design, business management, and construction management. They’ve completed courses in communications, architecture, building codes, construction, fabrics and textiles, and even advertising. They have passed countless exams and hold licenses and certifications.

While an Interior Decorator may choose to attend classes or obtain a certificate, they are not required to have formal training, licenses, or certifications.

In addition to being the creative vision behind the project, an interior designer must wear many other hats. Like the contractor on a building project, an interior designer is responsible for the planning, scheduling, execution, and progress of your project as well as ensuring that it stays within budget. Your designer must foresee and troubleshoot any problems that may arise. They must coordinate sub-tradesmen, ordering, deliveries, and inspections. They are responsible for obtaining permits, knowing building codes, and ensuring that all work is being done safely and legally.

Your interior designer is far more than a creative genius. Like any skilled professional, they have worked hard and long, sacrificing much, to become what they are. Like any skilled professional, doctor, lawyer, or executive, they are masters in every area of their field and deserving of the rates they charge.

If you are planning a renovation and are considering hiring an interior designer, contact us. Our highly skilled, professional interior designers will handle every aspect of your project, put your mind at ease, and make your dream a reality.

Renovation Tips: Preparing For Your First Meeting With An Interior Designer

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You’ve made the decision to renovate. You’ve decided to hire an interior designer. How should you prepare for the first consultation?

Determine the scope of your project

This is where you have an idea in mind of what the project will entail. What room or rooms? What stays, what goes? What you like about the space, what you most want to change. Color palettes, must haves, styles you like, etc. What is your vision? This will give your designer the ability to begin calculating ideas, costs, and timeline.

Determine your budget

Before even beginning, your designer has to know how much money you are willing to spend. Costs on a project vary greatly depending on the size, materials used, how elaborate the design, and how long it will take.

Be prepared to talk

Interior designers are ‘creative listeners’. They get many ideas by listening to you. Tell them of your dream space, favorite things, favorite places, etc. They learn much about you and your personal style and tastes just by listening.

Be prepared to listen

Don’t be too stuck on something specific. You hired a designer, let them do their job. If you know exactly what you want and how you want it, you don’t need a designer. Give them room to be creative. They may have ideas you never thought of. Remember, it’s their job to create a unique space just for you. Trust their knowledge, creativity, expertise, and experience.

Your interior designer is there to assist you in accomplishing the goals you’ve set for your space. Whether it’s making some simple changes, or creating an entirely different space, an interior designer has the vision to make it happen.

For information on how an interior designer can help you transform your space, contact us.

Investing in a Designer: Why Paying a Design Fee Seems Costly

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We have all slid our precious credit cards to pay doctors we trust to help keep our bodies healthy. Some of us have had to use the services of a lawyer. We have even seen commercials advertising free consult appointments. You get to talk with this professional, tell your story and maybe get some feedback for free. That sounds like a good deal. It is like going to a store to look without having to purchase. That is how we like to shop for things we need. So, why when shopping for an interior designer, do we have to pay a design fee?

The designer you hire is helping you achieve the look you present to your customers. Think of the design fee this way. A designer will meet with you, talk about your ideas and needs, much like a lawyer will meet with a potential client to hear their story. The lawyer may disclose some information regarding the situation as far as set-in-stone laws go. The lawyer will not offer advice and start working on your case though. You will have to sign agreements for payment and usually pay an amount to get that process started. A designer will meet with you, put all your ideas on paper, and come up with a design, which entails a substantial amount of work and time. Most designers will charge a fee which covers the first presentation of their work and your ideas mashed together to get the ambience and look you desire. So, in the long run, the designer is charging a fee based on the work that has been done already and will be done.

The budget is, a lot of times, the basis for the design fee, which can be upwards 25% of the total budget. The designer is charging for their time, expertise, experience and reputation. Much like a lawyer or doctor, a designer is a professional who is spending a lot of time and resources working to get you the best result. You can shop around for a designer who will go above and beyond your expectations. The design fee is a way to make sure the designer gets paid for their expertise and time because the total budget often gets solely spent on  labor and materials.

Contact us to learn more.

The Prepared Client. The Inspired Designer.

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You finally bought that restaurant or signed the lease on the retail space to launch your successful online enterprise into a brick and mortar establishment. Congratulations! The next step of designing your retail space to fully express your brand is crucial. You can try to do it alone, but hiring an interior designer will make your space pop with a unique and professional look while also saving you money. However, as with any consultation it is good to come prepared so you don’t fumble in the dark indecisively. Your interior designer can work the best for you when you know what you want, transforming your ideas into refined perfection.


Do not underestimate the inspirational power of design magazines in print. There is power in feeling the paper between your fingers as you peruse the different concepts presented. Dog-ear the pages with the color schemes that you adore, or combine two environments that you believe would go harmoniously together. Something as accessible as Better Homes and Gardens is easy to grab on your way out of the grocery store and can give you some ‘food for thought’ beyond what you bought for dinner that night. Or, check out some fine examples of luxury design at LuxeSource to get your imagination going. Magazines are excellent materials to bring to a consultation with your designer because they require no log-in to access and are readily accessible.


Pinterest reigns as queen of digital inspiration, hosting ideas from seasoned designers and novices with natural talent. You are going to get a wider variety of designs due to the unpredictable level of expertise abound. This factor however makes Pinterest designs part grass-roots with a hungry creative edge that is unique to the online community. The unfiltered creativity of Pinterest’s ideas makes sifting through countless images an adventure. Finding that one design that pops out at you is worth the search: pin it and bring it to your future consultation!

Tour successful retail spaces

Sometimes it is a good idea to stretch your legs and tour some successful retail spaces to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Take a short drive to the mall or dine at a trendy restaurant. Ask yourself, “What do I like about this place? What works?” Jot down the notes and bring them to your designer. Do you like the bright lights of Forever21 and the bold displays of hot items that lure you in to the front of the store? Or, does the perfume-filled air and shadowy ambiance of Hollister immerse you in another world? Does theApple Store’s simplicity and basic layout appeal to the kind of product you want to showcase, or do you prefer the retail hiking trail IKEA takes its customers on that finishes with the reward of Swedish meatballs? Bring all your thoughts and likes to your designer’s table and he or she can professionally integrate your preferences into your personal brand.

For whatever concepts you want to apply to your future business, you can be confident that a professional interior designer will be able to take your ideas and breathe life into them. Remember that a designer can work much more efficiently with clients who are prepared with even a few ideas. Ready to start you own design journey? Contact us to partner with us today and we can take you through the whole design process.

Kevin is speaking at AIA Convention 2016!

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FR119 – Living and Working Abroad: Lessons from the Pros

Friday, May 20 from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM

Credits: 1.00 LU/RIBA

Location: Pennsylvania Convention Center


What’s happening in the world of architecture beyond your own backyard? These young, emerging designers are in the thick of it, working overseas and experiencing global practice first-hand.

Join them to explore:
– How global practice creates new opportunities and challenges for the profession’s future leaders
– Which issues and concerns come with working in a foreign context with different social conditions, licensure issues, and project responsibilities
– What their real-word experiences of global education and training can mean for others interested in international practice

There’s a whole world out there! Hear how others are experiencing it—and bring new ideas back to your own practice.

(More Information)

Renovation Tips for Your Next Business Renovation: Why You Should Hire an Interior Designer?

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When people think of the word “interior designer,” they think of a designer for their home renovation. However, did you know that you should hire an interior designer for your next business renovation? In this blog post, we’re going to discuss why this is so, and also give you some renovation tips and tricks for your next business renovation!

  • Interior designers save you money. Yes, you’ll have to expend money on the interior designer in the first place in order to do the job, but in the long run, hiring an interior designer for your next renovation project will save you money because s/he will get the job done right, the first time, on time and on/under budget.
  • Interior designers work with a series of different vendors, so that they can save you additional money in the long run. Because an interior designer has a trusted network of professionals who provide a wide variety of services for a fraction of the price of more traditional vendors, interior designers will be able to pass the savings onto you!
  • Finally, but certainly no less importantly, interior designers are able to bring a professional touch to your store that you, as a non-professional, won’t be able to do. Wouldn’t you want your store to look its absolute best, so you can attract many first-time and returning customers?

We provide a wide variety of design services for business and commercial clients. For more information about us and our services, contact us today to see what we can do for you.

Renovation Tips: 5 Questions to Ask your Designer Before You Get Started

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Renovating your home or business is a huge undertaking. Not only is it time-consuming but it is expensive as well. For this reason, there are some questions you will definitely want the answers to before your interior designer gets started.

What Happens if There is a Problem?

Issues are almost guaranteed to occur during the course of your renovation. For example, you may find that a particular wall can’t be moved as expected or the tile you chose is no longer an option. Understanding how these issues will be addressed is important.

How Close to Budget do you Expect Us to Be?

You should always have a little room in your budget for surprises that may surface throughout the renovation. Knowing where you stand at the beginning will help you determine how close you can expect to be when everything is said and done.

What Do You See as the Biggest Challenge?

Knowing where your designer sees the most potential for issues can help prompt you to think about any changes you may need to make. In the end, this will help you anticipate certain issues and have a plan in place to attack the problem head-on.

What Does the Schedule Look Like?

Scheduling is an important part of getting the project finished on time. When you understand the schedule, you will be able to know when to expect completion as well as whether the project has fallen behind.

What if there are Questions?

Communication is always important and you will want to know how to contact your designer when you have questions. On the flip side, they will also need to know how to contact you if they have questions for you to answer.

These are a few of the questions you should ask before you get started with your renovation. Learning their answers will help give you peace of mind that your project is running smoothly and on schedule. To learn more about the renovation process, contact us today.

Creativity as a Family Business: Dinner with the Lims

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Thank you Zolima City Mag for the amazing write-up!

The night before the dinner, Kevin was testing out his recipe for the cake. “I infused the pandan in water, and normally this cake doesn’t have any liquid, so it took awhile to get it right,” he says. It’s dessert as architecture: a final product whose elegance masks the rigours of its construction.

(Check out the full article here)


Designer Cost for Renovating a Restaurant

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Giving a physical structure a makeover is a hefty undertaking. A restaurant renovation entails a mass of plans, dates, and money. Therefore, a talented well-educated designer is needed. What is the designer cost?

A restaurant renovation has to be carefully thought out and methodically undertook. A restaurant renovation is based on the brand. The designer putting ideas and must-haves together has to know the brand inside and out to produce the wanted product. The design process can take a few pressing weeks to a year to complete.

AARONALLEN & Associates offers insight on renovating a restaurant with a design consultant that offers quality, not a cheap price. Restaurants are normally built to cost $85 to $300 per square foot.

How much does a restaurant design cost? suggests:

…a 3,000 square foot restaurant can cost, on average, anywhere from $250,000 to $1,000,000 to build from the ground up. Using Allen’s 10% rule, design costs would take up $25,000 to $100,000 of total planned expenditures.

Keep in mind the renovation of a successful eating establishment depends a lot on equipment. If new equipment is needed, expect to pay $30,000 to $100,000. Assume the price of a walk-in freezer to be $10,000 to $30,000. Expect an exhaust fan to run $15,000 to $50,000. For other price tips, the article Average Cost of Restaurant Renovation. offers a few more ideas to keep in mind for renovation success in the article Restaurant Remodeling: Arm Yourself for the Battle of the Budget.

With the amount of work and the excessive plans, an interior designer is an investment within an investment. Making sure they are well qualified and discerning will ensure a fabulous finished product.

For more information, feel free to contact us.

Coworking Space and Office Renovation for Startups

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In the market for office renovation for startups, shared office space (named coworking space) can sometimes be the key to economical and innovative work environment in the entrepreneur’s office.  What are the keys to designing successful coworking space?  One company answers three questions in their designs.

  1.  “How can the design of a space encourage collaboration and innovation?”
  2.  “How is the community mapped and visually represented in the space?”
  3.  “How can the design of space promote autonomous behavior from its members?”

Not only does the space have to work for a single entrepreneur, it needs to be functional for a group of entrepreneurs working for different startups.  One of the keys to adapting to the needs of the employees is to allow an ever-evolving room for change in the space.

The key in coworking design is to build office space that influences behavior.  To encourage collaboration among workers, sometimes the space can be divided into work areas by merely adapting lighting and heights of ceilings to form ‘rooms’ in an open area.  Innovation can be encouraged by the changeable nature of the space.  For instance, one group might use a white wall as a projection screen, while another might want to post graphics on a wall.  Making the space ones own and innovating within the office environment can encourage creativity and establish ownership of space.

In conclusion, the most important key in coworking space is that entrepreneurs need to adapt space to their own needs.  While design is important to forming certain positive behavior trends in an office, the state of constant flux itself enables an innovative work environment.  According to the same design team,

…Openness provides room for members to take control of shaping and hosting their environment which in turn helps to engender a more collaborative and sharing culture within the space.

For more information on office design for startups, contact us.