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A LUXURY DESIGN + LIFESTYLE BLOG BY VERONICA SOLOMON

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Think You Can't Afford A Designer? 13 Ways You Can

Updated: Nov 5, 2018


So everyone knows that I am very active on social media. Facebook and maybe Instagram are my channels of choice, although I do participate in most of the other channels on occasion.

I like Facebook because it is really a great way to engage and build a closer relationship with clients, prospects and well-wishers. Many of my Facebook followers are extremely loyal to me - I see their likes, shares and comments on a regular basis. But often times, they will make comments like "I wish I could afford to hire you" or "maybe one day I can afford to have you come by and help me with my _________room". They are convinced that interior design is still for the elite, and it will cost a fortune to hire a designer.

Well, I can tell you honestly that yes, design will cost you - and it could in fact be a very expensive undertaking. But these days, it does not have to be. Interior design is much more accessible to the masses than it's ever been. In fact, as designers, we are having to think of ways to stay ahead of the curve and not fall into the mindset that we will only cater to celebrity-scaled budgets. Such thinking will leave us behind and promptly put us out of business. We have to keep up with the demand, while still maintaining and getting paid for the value we bring to the table.


There is no getting around the fact that interior design is making an investment in your home. But it is an investment that not only pays off in your bottom line when you sell your home, but it is also an investment in yourself. It is all about living your best life in an environment that nurtures your soul and enhances your lifestyle. So, isn't it worth exploring? Isn't interior design one of those must-haves that we all aspire for? Anything great that is worth having will require a shift in mindset, or a sacrifice, or some good old fashioned effort. Sometimes we want to re-invent the wheel and look for answers all over the place when it is right there in front of us. If you take the time to look, you may find that telling yourself that you can't afford an interior designer all these years has been a big lie.

Here are 13 ways that you can afford an interior designer

  1. Stop telling yourself you can't - I hear it way too often; "hiring an interior designer is very expensive or it is a luxury that I can't afford". Any good life coach will tell you that what you speak over your life is usually what comes to fruition. If you constantly tell yourself that you can't afford something, or you don't deserve something, your actions are going to lean in that direction. We all deserve to live in a space that evokes positive feelings and wonderful moods. That is what interior design does for you. Start speaking positive words when it comes to your environment. "I can see this room being a wonderful escape for me and my spouse after a long day at work" or "This room will make a great family room where we can all hangout together". Set it as a goal and it will come to pass

  2. Evaluate your needs and prioritize - Most times I find that people do not call a designer in for help because they have a whole 3000sf home to furnish. Not only is the thought overwhelming, but realistically they know they don't have $100,000 sitting in the bank ready to go. You would be surprised to know that by evaluating what your immediate needs for the space are, and then making a list of priorities (projects that you can afford to tackle first), you will be able to afford to start the design process sooner than later. Whether you want to start with the room you want to escape to after your work day (like the master suite), or the room that you entertain your guests in; start with that area first, and as budget allows, keep the process moving until the last room is complete

  3. Scale  your expectations to match your budget - So maybe that Marge Carson sofa is stunning, and would look amazing in your living room. The fact is that sometimes paying for the name is not always the smart thing to do. You can pay a lot less for great quality. That is where an interior designer can save you a ton of money. We have the resources available to find you that same look and quality for a lot less. Which leads into point #4........

  4. Mix high-end with low-end - If you must have that Marge Carson sofa then a great designer can help you stick to a reasonable budget by incorporating items from across the board. We love to mix higher end pieces with lower end pieces to give the space a beautiful and luxurious look overall. This takes careful skill and experience to properly pull off. So walking into a showroom and seeing a $40,000 room vignette does not have to be a turn-off. Call an interior designer and you are likely to get the same look (if not better), for less

  5. Make a plan and save toward it - I know in this day and age of instant everything, saving up for something seems like a foreign concept. But if you think back to just about a couple decades ago, that is how our parents made major purchases - they would make a plan and save money toward achieving that plan. If we really consider the frivolous things we spend our money on everyday, we would have no issues coming up with a decor budget relatively fast. Consider that we spend $5-10 a day on coffee, $100 a month or more on eating out, $100 or more per month on haircuts and manicures, and not to mention shopping at the mall. These are mostly things that can be done at home for a while as you save up for decorating.

  6. Understand that design is not necessarily a luxury, but  a need - I think point #5 is a dead give-away that people do not typically see decorating as a need. They still think of it as luxury reserved for rich people. After all, no one sees how you really live. They will however see the lack of a haircut or the newest nail color, or the new Michael Kors handbag, or the brand new outfit from Kate Spade. People will generally spend money on things to impress other people over spending on their homes - the place where you want to feel good, safe and nurtured. The place where you don't want clutter to reside because it is your haven. When you see your home as more than just an address, but more of your slice of heaven on earth, then you will understand that interior design is more of a need than you realized

  7. Sell stuff you no longer need - Sure, I am not  a fan of Craig's List either, but committing to getting rid of some stuff you no longer use or need to generate some cash to decorate, makes it worth meeting that potentially crazy person in a well-lit public area :-) . I cannot tell you how many homes I have gone into over the last 10 years where people can't even park their cars in their garages. There is a whole treasure trove of stuff that they no longer use or need, and either refuse to get rid of for sentimental reasons, or just too lazy to get them photographed and online for sale. It's a life principle - things come into your life at the time you need them, and then go back out to fill someone else's need. Holding on to stuff for the wrong reason is not the mentality that you should promote in your life anyway. Sell some stuff and use that money to bring in new things that will enhance the way you live.

  8. Get a temporary side gig - I can hear the collective clicks away from this post at this very moment :-) but please hang in there for a bit longer. It is not as bad as it sounds. I have done it and proud to admit it. Back in the day when I needed to make a major purchase, I would get a side job to be able to afford it without getting a loan. These days it is even easier to find a side hustle as you save up money for your decor project. There is so much that can be done online thanks to social media. I had a client who sold t-shirts online, and did pretty well. Find what you are good at, and use that to your advantage to generate some cash. What's the alternative? Settling for an ugly, boring interior space that makes you hate coming home at nights? I think not!

  9. Ask for an interior designer as gifts - Getting married? You are totally in the right stage to do this. Birthday? Yep, very appropriate. Anniversary? Yes and yes! These days, it is proper etiquette to tell people what you want as presents for your wedding, birthday, anniversary, dog's birthday :-) or whatever. It is really not frowned upon. Many interior designers will offer hourly paid consultations that you can have your family and friends give you as a present for one of those occasions. And even better if your uncle George is rich - get him to pay for your next living room project for the long awaited wedding. They are that happy to marry you off...trust me :-) . Ask and ye shall receive :-)

  10. Research designers who offer lower budget options - Me, me, me! I do! :-) I love working with super high-end budgets where the sky is the limit, just like every other designer. But I am most passionate about helping everyday people like you, achieve livable luxury in your homes. I have several levels and budget design packages specifically geared for helping everyone in their quest for beautiful, functional, and comfortable living. I am sure there are many more like me out there. So find a designer who will offer lower budget options. And if you can't find one that fits the bill, I do offer eDesign services as well. You can also watch for promotions: Find a great designer whose work you love, and follow them on social media. Be the first to jump on any promotions they may be offering

  11. Be willing to DIY - You may have to tap into your inner decorator to start on the road to designing your home. Most designers will be willing to charge an hourly or flat fee to create a design plan for you that you can do your own shopping and then implement. This will require some do it yourself projects sometimes - maybe painting the walls yourself (pretty easy to learn), hanging your own art work etc. A big part of the cost of interior design is retaining the services of the designer to handle all the shopping, and managing the project through to installation. Getting the plan upfront, then managing the purchases and installation on your own, then possibly then have the designer come back to style the space, will save you quite a bit on design fees

  12. Get a short term loan - Ok, I know. Not a good idea for everyone! I am finally at the point of my life where I have zero debt, so this is never the first option I would throw out.......BUT, it may work for some people. You have to look at a lot of variables - How much debt do you already have. Can you comfortably afford additional monthly obligations if you were to be out of work for  a few months. How disciplined you are with debt management. Will this improvement add value to your home (that you could recoup upon selling). What is your interest rate and is it worth the investment in your home. Debt is not necessarily a bad thing. It is in fact a tool that you can use to your advantage. Just know what you are getting into

  13. If you are buying a home, scale back on the house and fit decor in the budget - I see this scenario way too often....you get called out to a client's brand new $800K home (super expensive in my area), but they have $5000 to decorate an empty main floor. Huh? I am good, but not even I can make that happen. You have heard the term "house poor", and that is a perfect example. Buying the biggest and best home at the top of your budget, and not leaving money to buy furniture is not really a smart investment. First of all - while it is important to keep resale in the back of your mind when you are buying a home to live in long term, it should not be the driving force. Living in it everyday should be. Buying the most expensive home in your market is not a good idea either. Instead, buy the home you will enjoy in the best neighborhood you can afford, and leave money in the budget to decorate and make it livable and comfortable. I am not suggesting that because you own a $800K home that you should be able to afford the finest most luxurious decor ever. I am saying that you should consider that it will take a budget that is equivalent to about 20% or so of your home's value to furnish it and make it livable. It could be more, or less, but that is a great rule of thumb. You will never be happy in a big beautiful home if it is not finished on the inside.

  14. It is either the BMW or the new living room - Pick one! This one also drives me a      bit crazy: Buying expensive cars and having an empty house. I love sweet looking rides like anyone else, but I much prefer driving a pinto and coming home to a beautiful sanctuary. Your used car sales guy will probably disagree, but it is true -   cars depreciate in value, so they are never a wise investment. They are purely for   pleasure. Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but focus on your living environment first

There you have it - 14 ways you CAN afford to hire a designer. Actually I was on a roll, so you totally got a bonus :-)

Hopefully you found some great ways you can make design happen in your home. It does not have to be a point of contention for long. It always helps to have a starting point to know what direction you want to head in. It may make sense for you to call a designer in for a consultation now even if you don't have the funds to decorate just yet. Be honest with him/her about what you are trying to accomplish, and ask their advice about the best way to get there. A good designer will be honest with you about how you can achieve your design goals. They can help you set a realistic budget, and maybe even give you advice on what to start with for the biggest bang for your design buck. We offer consultations for only $297 for up to two hours. They are full of great information, ideas, inspiration and direction. Click here to book your consultation.

So start telling yourself "Design - GOOD; Coffee Habit - BAD" :-)

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Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!


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