Will you be purchasing goods through your designer?
The two most frightening words to an interior design client are markup and custom! So let’s talk about how designers buy for you and why you might actually really want custom items in your home, and how that markup – scary word that it is – can actually represent a lot of value for you, especially on a larger-size project.
When the design is complete, it’s time to actually purchase the items needed to bring the design to life. Well, that’s when the next round of pricing uncertainty and questions usually pop up. I would encourage you to ask questions before you get to this point. Most designers offer services that allow you the option to do your own buying if you desire. You’ll want to let them know your intention at the beginning so they can make selections that you will have an easy time purchasing. Additionally, most seasoned designers know what their clients typically spend on furnishings per room or by the square foot. They should be able to tell you an expected spend range for a typical guest bedroom, lor living room based on size etc. These re important questions to ask at the beginning of the process. If you’re comfortable with the stated typical costs then you can sit back and relax and enjoy making selections for your home.
Let’s go ahead and just talk about the markup thing.
Yes, designers do make money from selling you furnishings, just the way a furniture store does, and of course, this varies across the industry. Some designers just charge standard retail prices, while some with storefronts will offer a discount to design clients on items in the store. Most designers add a percentage to the actual cost of the item, and this varies from business to business and vendor to vendor. Please do not ask them what the markup is, and do not think you are entitled to their vendor invoices. You wouldn’t ask Restoration Hardware for the invoices from their vendors for the chair you bought there, now would you? No, they would look at you like you’re crazy. Those are internal numbers and documents.
Please trust that the designer you are working with really wants to offer you great value. After all, you’ll probably tell a friend or leave a review! They also know what their business needs to earn per project to continue to thrive each year. When that business continues in your community, you have them there for future support. If you don’t feel you can trust your designer to treat you fairly and take great care of your project, then you probably shouldn’t be doing business with them.
It seems that a lot of people think designers are buying items at retail and then adding additional costs on top of that. I’m sure it happens from time to time, but overall, that’s definitely NOT how this business model works. As business owners, we work with our vendors to secure discounted pricing on product lines we love and feel work well in our area and for our typical aesthetic. We also buy into the line to get great pricing, meaning there is generally a large opening order requirement. The better the discount level, the larger the opening order. We also commit to buying a certain minimum amount each year. Oftentimes we also buy into a sample program, which all adds up to thousands of dollars invested in a product line for the end purpose of being able to provide it at a value price for our clients, and of course, we hope to make a little money at the end of the year too.
WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU PURCHASE FURNISHINGS FROM YOUR DESIGNER
At Lagnappe Custom Interiors, we like to provide our clients with a bright and beachy feel. I have some great vendors for that look. We buy A LOT of pieces for that style and can offer great pricing to clients because of it. If you want us to do a Tuscan-style home for you, I probably don’t have a great vendor list for that look, and you should honestly buy from someone else for that design, and I’ll tell you that at the first meeting!
What do you really get when you purchase furnishings from your designer?
1. An Interior Design Professional
Nobody is more invested in ensuring every detail is there than your interior designer. You get a professional who has been to your home and spent time understanding your goals and lifestyle. They can then select items carefully to meet your needs and handle the purchase process.
2. Double Checking Order Forms
You also get your interior designer’s knowledge of the product line as it applies to your specific space, along with customizable options, from custom fabrics and finishes to custom sizes and fully bespoke designs. There is also an opportunity for that one-of-a-kind fit and style that furniture stores just don’t offer. Our attention to detail helps make sure every custom feature is correctly specified on order forms ensuring that your dream sofa arrives looking exactly as you had hoped!
3. You Also Get Relationships
Vendor relationships that have many years in the making are simply not available when buying from a big box store online. If there are any “issues” with your item when it arrives, your designer will take care of that, and they will use their relationship with the vendor to do so. Our firm has a team of three people who manage our client’s buying and logistics. They are amazing detail-oriented professionals who are tracking everything every day. It is a huge bonus for our clients to receive a weekly report on the status of every item they have purchased from us. I would not be able to employ those people if I did not charge a markup on the furniture. When our clients buy from us, they are purchasing into the systems and people in the business that truly make the magic happen, the backstage crew, so to speak.
While I know there can be a lot of uncertainty around costs when getting a large home project started, a good designer can bring a lot of value for their fees and give you peace of mind that the details are being taken care of while you focus on the other busy aspects of life as well as the ability to daydream of the end result that will soon be your new home.
We hope you feel more at ease and confident when approaching your interior designer or a new designer with whom you’re about to embark on a new project. We’re here to help you achieve the home of your dreams, and we want to thank you for trusting us to be a guide for you and to help make your vision a reality. If you missed Part I and Part II of this series, don’t forget to check them out to learn more on how interior designers charge.