Let's say we're all bees. Each and every one of us is buzzing about-
buzz buzz buzz.
The honey that we make is our lives. Experience has taught me two things...


...and LIFE is only as yummy as you make it!

Are YOU a Killer Bee?

bee my guest?

bee my guest?
Howdy Beezers! I'm excited to share something new with you... Over the upcoming months, most of the content you'll be seeing here will be from special guest contibutors! This is sure to add a new texture to this thing we've been weaving over the years. I know that many of my readers (yes, you!) are writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers. PLEASE feel free to contact me if there's something you'd like to contribute! I'd be most honored to pollinate... send me a note: m.mckinley@rocketmail.com

please be seated

July 5, 2009


In Part One, I gave you some tips on how to choose an interior designer.
This time around, I'll try to clear up the mystery surrounding how designers get paid...

There are many ways in which designers forge their livings. Most important for you to understand, is that it's often "layered". This has caused allot of confusion to the general public, but really its not that complicated. Some designers may be flexible on the terms in which they bill you, but most have their businesses set up in a way that's comfortable and works for them. Yes there are unscrupulous designers who gouge their clients, but really most of us are just like you, eking out an honest living. Here are two typical layerings....
  • HOURLY + COMMISSION/CUT: Most designers have a dual "rate" that they charge per hour. One is for an initial consultation, the second is for follow-up/design research time. What do designers charge per hour? Well, that quite frankly depends on who their clients are. Designers with wealthy clients charge more. That's not greedy, just good old fashioned capitalism....When a designer "shops" for you, they may waive their hourly rate in exchange for a commission on furnishings/products purchased. Most, but not all furniture stores extend either a discount or commission cut to designers. It's not typically a big one, and the designer may pass that along to you, or keep it for themselves. Either way, its a private transaction between the retail outlet and the designer. If your designer works through "to the trade only" outlets, like say The Merchandise Mart in Chicago, they are usually privy to a fairly decent discount off the retail price of things. They may choose to pocket this difference, pass that discount onto you, or meet you somewhere in the middle. Please know that however they choose to handle these discounts, it is their prerogative. But what's fair you ask? I guess it depends on what your designer is charging you per hour, and of course what the end result will be. Do you want what your neighbors have, or do you want a unique and customized interior that reflects your individual style?

  • HOURLY + DESIGN SERVICES: Designers that have fully functioning studios may offer a host of services/products. This may include, but is not limited to the following: Custom upholstery, window treatments, rugs, wallcoverings, and cabinetry. They purchase these made-to-order products from wholesale, or to the trade only companies. It's then marked up to a retail price and sold to YOU, the end customer. At this point, depending on your budget and what you're trying to accomplish within it, your designer may offer you a discount off retail. But again, what's fair? Since I personally charge a decent amount per/hour for my time and talent, I'll usually pass along a discount of some kind, whenever I can. Most designers will.

Does all this sound daunting and EXPENSIVE? It doesn't have to be. TRUST ME ON THIS: The most important thing YOU can bring to the table when you begin your quest for a designer, is a realistic, all inclusive budget for the project at hand. I mean the bottom line! If what you can afford is pre-fab window treatments from Linens & Things, and a new sofa on your Pottery Barn charge, then you find the designer that is EXCITED to help you pull it all together within your budget. If you approach a designer that can't be bothered with your small potatoes project, then they aren't the one for you! Believe me, there are talented designers out there who love what they do, and will be happy to work within your budget, whatever it is. Happy hunting!

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Buzz Out!