I love when clients have artwork that serves as the inspiration for a space. Most often they are sharing a piece of their unique story.  

It becomes more challenging when we seek out artwork for our clients. The process needs to be approached in a thoughtful, creative, and authentic manner that lends itself to sharing their narrative.  

Although  art always is the “last piece of the design puzzle” we are asking questions from the very start that will lend inspiration.  It’s a process that needs to develop over time…not overnight. We make a point of learning about what our clients love…and hate. Discovering to where they have travel, how they spend their weekends, which books they’ve read and what shows they’re seeing.  It’s how we can choose pieces that truly reflect them.  

And oftentimes, we create original art for them.

The importance of art in a room not only adds beauty to a space but intrinsic meaning to the homeowners.

It connects us.

I’ve been designing homes for almost twenty years.  In all those years, can you guess how many clients come to us knowing exactly what their budget is?

The answer is one.

Surprised?   

Designing well for clients involves asking tons of personal questions – learning what a client is comfortable spending from the very start  is the most important question of all.  

In order to begin designing a space, we need to know if the vision you hold for your home is even realistic given the budget.  No client wants us spending hours on a project only to discover that financially it’s completely out of their comfort zone.

So how do help our clients in determining a budget?  

Our approach is simple: we use our past experiences in designing similar spaces. By discussing photos of recently designed spaces, we’re able to discuss a highly custom designed space versus one that might include a high/low mix of product. 

Design is an investment; this process allow us to educate our clients on their investment.

And educating our clients is key to being transparent from the very start of each project.

We recognize that your time is valuable. In order to work as efficiently as possible we have what we call “trade day”. This is the day where we are taking on-site measurements, filming and photographing every angle and reviewing any open final criteria. We’re also photographing and measuring any of our client’s furniture that will be incorporated into the design.

While on-site, we have arranged to meet with all the trades involved in your project – including the electricians, plumbers, window treatment installer, painters, paper hangers and of course the contractor. Any initial questions we or they have can be addressed at this time.

Not only does this part of the process save time, it also helps in opening up the lines of communication between all of our tradespeople.

We know what works best for certain clients may not work well for others, therefore we offer two options as to how we charge.

Depending on the project, we will either charge a flat design fee or an hourly fee. There are many factors involved in making this decision – here’s a brief summary of each.

The flat design fee: The way we arrive at the flat fee depends on three criteria:

1. The scope of the project – What is the size of the project and what services are needed? We create a check list and compare your project against similar recent projects.

2. The intended budget for design services as well as product and project management. For example, is the client requesting custom drawings? Or do they need to see all furnishings in person? If so, we’ll need to account for additional time in our fee. Again, based on past projects, we are able to estimate a budget so that there are no surprises from the start!

3. The expected duration of the project. Do we have six months to complete the project from start to finish or Is there a deadline looming that we have to meet? This is important as we need to know if we will need to increase our support staff.


Hourly fee: If we feel that an hourly will work best for the project, we will present an estimate for the number of hours we believe the overall project will take. We’re able to arrive at this number by looking at similar past projects that we’ve tracked (as we do with all of our projects) (just as aside…from the start of every full project, each week our clients are given an update outlining what we’ve accomplished as well as what we anticipate we will work on the following week) Should we find that we are exceeding our estimate, the project is reviewed and evaluated with the client and a plan is implemented.

So there you have it. A basic explanation to very involved question! Have additional questions? Please call us…we’d love to talk design!

Once the agreement is reviewed and signed, we collect a retainer – this fee is a percentage – based on the overall scope of work. (as outlined in the agreement)
Included in the agreement are future meeting dates based on both our client’s and our availability. This allows us all to plan our calendars while setting expectations of when tasks are to be accomplished.
Most often we’re on schedule, but… because there are so many moving parts and people involved in every project, sometimes it can be difficult to predict exactly how long a project will take.

The next step is our “Trade Day”! Stay tuned!

I’m always asked how we work so, of course, I thought this could be the perfect opportunity for a blog post.

It’s always starts with a phone call.   After a 10 – 20 conversation and we like what each other has to say, we’ll schedule an in-home 1.5 hour to 2 hour consultation.

This is a paid consult is where you’ll be left with a lot of creative and exciting ideas.   

Before our meeting, we ask (so when I say “we” I mean Leslie, my Project Manager, aka “work-wife”) that you fill out our online questionnaire.  In order to get the most out of our time, you’ll share your Pinterest inspiration boards or magazine clippings.

If you’re looking for help with your current home, we’ll start with a tour of your entire home and a run through of what you love and what you hate about it.  What are your challenges?  If it’s a new build, we’ll review the blueprints.

We’ll discuss if you’d like to work in stages (most do) or do you want the entire house designed at once (we can more than handle that too).   We’ll discuss the overall scope of work for your project and review a timeline or any deadlines you might have.

We’ll determine if the work will be turnkey (we design and implement) or if you are looking only for creative input (we hand our spec sheets over to you to handle all purchasing and project management)

We’ll then talk about which would benefit you more:  hourly or a flat fee? (need more details on that?  Stayed tuned for our next post!)

We won’t leave before reviewing your intended budget.  We’ll help you figure out what this might be by showing you similar size design projects that we’ve worked on in the past.  

I hope this helps to understand the first step of our Design Process.  

Have more questions?  I’d love to answer them. Please reach me at terri@fioriinteriordesign.com or call 201-848-9797.