The internet changed how interior designers are compensated, forever. There is no closing the proverbial Pandora’s box. In the past, professional interior designers typically charged a “mark up” from wholesale prices as their main method of compensation. But I always wondered, “Why is my value to the client dependent on the quality of merchandise a client purchases?” I bring a 4-year design degree, passage of the national qualifying examination, 28 years of broad design experience, and a decade of leadership in professional associations, to each and every client I serve. My value to the project is comprehensive and consistent regardless of the quality of purchases made by a client. Interior design and decoration is a professional service which should be compensated either hourly or on a fixed fee basis, just like other professionals.
By providing interior design services on an hourly or fixed fee basis, the client is free to purchase items anywhere they choose. Most of my clients make all or most purchases through me as their designer. They receive a fair price, AND lots of TLC and personal attention throughout the process. I am their advocate throughout the process, especially when things are less than perfect. What I find most disturbing are those who walk into a retail store, use up the time and expertise of sales staff, see and touch the item, enjoy the hospitality and convenience of the local store, knowing full well that they intended to purchase from the internet all along. This is dishonesty, pure and simple. The source of purchases should be discussed very early in the project so as to be fair to all parties involved.
Clients must be aware that purchases from the internet, while very appealing, can have serious complications. Yes, who doesn’t want to have to pay sales tax? And little to no shipping charges on large items, who can compete with that? From experience, nothing shipped ever comes in “perfect”. There are entire teams of folks whose sole job is to repair and “make ready”, furnishings damaged in shipment. From experience, some items have to be reordered half a dozen times to get one that is not broken or cracked. Sadly, many clients wait until the last possible moment to order an item for a social function, only to have it arrive in poor condition. Guess who gets that phone call?
This is where the designer working in conjunction with the local store, have the advantage. You are able to “see it before you buy it”, touch it, check the proportions, check all the specs, and enjoy great customer service in an air conditioned/heated space. You are able to build relationships for future purchases and support those in your own community. Designers have a place to take their clients and this is invaluable. Designers can also work with the retail store to secure the best possible pricing. Most designers love what we do, and look forward to working with YOU!