how do designers charge? by paige gilbertson

Designers’ fee schedules work in all sorts of manners and many designers use different pricing schematics based on what type of design work they will be doing on a particular project. Here are the most common ways in which designers bill for their services:


Retainers are usually employed for any type of design project that is not consultation based. This retainer is agreed upon by the designer and the client and usually is set up to cover the designer’s and designer’s employees time in preparing the initial design plan. Retainers are used in conjunction with other fees listed below.

Fee Based

After the scope of work is defined, the designer or firm will submit a proposal to the client. This is a set price that is to be paid incrementally throughout the lifespan of the project, typically monthly or at set milestones in the project (deliveries, construction completion.) The firm determines their fee based on several factors: projected employee hours, costs, square footage and other factors. This can be dangerous if the project is under-estimated.

Square Foot Based

Same as fee based, but price is set only by square footage, no other factors.


Depending on the designer’s education, experience, skill level and where you are located in the nation, an hourly fee can fluctuate from $50-$500+/hour. Hourly fees are usually charged when the services are largely consulting in nature, and on an as-needed basis (selecting paint colors, rendering floor plans, product selection.) This method is most popular with independent designers not associated with a firm.


The designer plans and executes design of the space. The client purchases furniture and accessories from the designer directly and the client pays the item cost (design net price) plus (markup percentage.)

Hour and Cost-Plus

Hourly fees are paid for consulting services, budgeting and client meetings. Then any items procured through the designer are handled cost-plus.


historical interior design by mandi maurer gray

Historical interior design is an interesting facet of the design world. Interior design by nature is using one’s creative skill set and style to produce beautiful interiors. Interiors that are set apart from all others through the work of the interior designers’ interpretation of their clients’ personal style. This all becomes more of a challenge when working specifically on historical interiors. I have had the privilege to work on Frank Lloyd Wright homes, along with other known historical home styles. These projects were inspiring to a point, but also limiting to a point. After all, I am the interior designer of a project whose job is to design a specific space historically accurate of what another designer/architect would have done. This seems that it would lend itself to some stifling of creativity, and in part, it does, but it also lends itself to reaching further than I had ever before reached into my creative fault and bring out something that makes the client, myself, and the original designer/architect proud.

Designing for historical residences has a couple of inherent challenges: 1) The homeowner has chosen to live in a historic home for a reason. They love the design of the home and want to keep the original concept alive. This includes the designer doing much research into the time period, designer/architect, and clients’ sense of style. How do they want their personality to show, along with the historic intent? 2) How does the designer create a historically accurate, yet fresh concept for the homeowner? How will others be able to see the designers style shine through while meeting all other criteria? 3) Are there restrictions placed by the city or village where the property is located in terms of the design of the home? Will the designer have to propose and have approved their design intentions to a committee in order to begin work?

Along with the challenges, come the rewards, of course. The designer becomes an investigator into the past. Into another time period and the intentions of past designers and architects. The designer is able to discover past inspirations that are able to be spotted throughout the home. Mouldings, casings, paint color, built-ins, radiator covers, door styles, location of rooms, etc…all have intentional designs and locations. Finding out these intentions is fun and becomes such an interesting challenge to incorporate the new designers interpretations.

I must say that I have had many intense and amazing historical design projects throughout my career that give me joy to think back on. One of the best compliments a client has given me was to say that many of their guests asked if the additions I had incorporated into the home were original. I told the client to start saying, yes, in fact they are. Why not, keep the mystery alive!

Before: fireplace addition and historical remodel of Bungalow

After: fireplace addition and historical remodel of Bungalow

DIY Wedding Story by Andrea Beckman

Whenever I post a blog, I try to do it on something that signifies the notion of “blooming where you’re planted.”  Whether it is through design or another form, it’s about finding a way to live beautifully in the situations and places in which we reside.  So when my dear friends, Brandi and Ryan asked me to help with their wedding centerpieces & decor, I was thrilled!  Not only was I thrilled to embrace the creative challenge & bring their vision to life, I thought it would make a perfect “bloom where you’re planted story!”

When taking on the challenge I knew it would be a “DIY” project, I just wasn’t sure what I would be doing/creating exactly.  This brings me to the centerpieces which truly set the tone for the rest of the design and were definitely hands on!  The centerpieces all stemmed from Brandi’s vision & love of nature.  “First I decided on a color, which obviously had to be green since it’s my fave.  When considering what to use, I kept coming back to a “natural” theme – I love nature, it’s where we find the most beautiful and natural life.”




Brandi came across this photo when searching for “natural” centerpieces and immediately liked the moss and rocks, however she felt it was missing something.  “I felt it needed something more so I eventually came to the idea of bamboo.  I wanted to use bamboo because it reflects me and Ryan’s personalities – it’s sort of a “zen” idea.  I have found that I’m in my most meditative state when in nature.”

Perfect, so it was decided…moss, rocks and bamboo!  Brandi had a very clear vision.  Her vision included moss in the shape of a circle with rocks (smaller than what’s shown in the picture) & three stalks of bamboo in the center.  Now for the tricky part, how to give that life & create a balanced composition while honoring Brandi’s clear vision.  I know what you’re thinking…what’s so hard about that?  Believe me I had my challenges…or were those just personal challenges?  Either way it took me awhile!  I played with many different concepts…different vase sizes, colors, shapes, heights, additional foliage and so on.  Oh, and that does not even include all of the different moss I tried to seek out and experiment with!  This is no complaint, just acknowledging that even the most minimal of designs require a great deal of thought.


Building the moss bases!



I began with using round card board that is used for cake bases.  These would have to be transported so I needed to have some sort of base.  I used foam to create my mold for the moss.  I wanted all of the moss bases to look as natural as possible and this helped to create the illusion of thick, plush moss.




I used a preserved moss that was not on a sheet, it was a rich green and retained much of its native looking state.  Because it did not come on a sheet/netting I felt it was easier to fashion around the base, particularly because it was thicker and not perfectly flat.  It already has some depth of its own which again contributed to a more plush look.  Of everything I did, this part was the messiest and the most challenging.  When I say messy I mean it!  I literally went to bed once with a few green fingers.. remains from the moss that had been stuck to my fingers via glue.  There may have also been some moss stuck in my hair.  After this incident I switched glues!  None the less I prided myself in trying to create the most plush and natural looking moss bases possible.  I even began to imagine that I was this highly skilled artisan/sculptress/? who was the only person capable of creating such lush and alive looking moss.  It was my mission!

Because I am oh so great at procrastinating I was shamefully still creating some of the bases the morning of…AWWW!  Luckily I recruited a dynamite team to help me on the big day because I knew I would need it!




Meet the team:

Emily Ruggeri – Interior Designer:  Emily is one of my close friends and is great at improvising and taking the ball and running with it.  I wasn’t sure what type of improvising we would need to do the day of, but I knew I needed a hand on deck that I could trust!

Amy Beckman – Twin Sis:  Amy is great help, has a good eye but proved to be slightly crazy with the design stuff in the heat of the moment..another story!

Patrick Beckman – Dad:  Long-time trusty assistant, just as long he’s following my orders…Just kidding!! but seriously.  Pat ran errands and was a huge help!

Linda Beckman – Mom:  Linda was on clean up/packing duty and food control.  When the team needed to hydrate and re-fuel with pizza, Linda was on it!




Now for the fun stuff











I liked the idea of using Queen Anne’s Lace for accent foliage because of it’s minimal and airy feel.  It worked out perfectly because it was actually the flower used on the invites and it really tied everything together.
















The Ceremony




Brandi and Ryan were married this past May down by the bank of a lake under Ryan’s homemade arbor.  The wedding was on Miss Tennie’s property – Sweet Briar.  Miss Tennie is 94 years old and a close friend of the family, bride and groom.  Ryan used to cut the grass out at the property as a teenager.  “To get married there really had a lot of personal meaning to us.”







This wedding truly exemplified what it means to “blooming where you’re planted.”  Making the most of what you love, your surroundings and resources.  I had so much fun working with Brandi and the gang on this wedding.  It truly was beautiful and a fulfilling experience that I will cherish always!





Style Defined: Tropical by Kimberly Reuther

As we approach the heat of the summer months, I am inspired by the tropics where it is warm all year round.  The ocean is near, palm trees are in abundance and daily life is about staying cool.  The vacation-inspired vibe is envious and actually pretty accessible in your own home.  Here a few photos and tips to help you achieve your own oasis!

1.  Crisp white color palettes are always refreshing and fairly easy to achieve.  Using a semi-gloss paint on walls and floors is more reflective and easier to keep clean.  White linen slipcovers and gauzy drapery panels evoke the casual, relaxed atmosphere of the tropics.

2.  MIxing bold, bright colors and multiple patterns are easy ways to create the drama and intensity of the sun.  Saturate your walls or floors with an intense hue derived from the sea or refinish multiple picture frames for a quick colorful collage.

3.  Incorporating natural and organic elements into your design will create a sense of harmony.  Sisal or seagrass make perfect rugs in high traffic areas.  Palm trees and tropical flowers are increasingly popular indoors even as far inland as Missouri.  If nothing else, create your tropical retreat in an outdoor area which can be put away during winter months.

Previously written by Kimberly for St. Louis AT HOME’s website.  Read more of Kimberly’s work and view her portfolio at

Working With An Interior Designer by Victoria Dreste

Gone are the days of the interior designer who comes sweeping into your home declaring everything hideous and demanding the removal of everything you own.

Today a designer is more likely to meet with you, ask questions about your likes and listen carefully to what you have to say, helping you to discover your personal style.

If you are the kind of person who finds it difficult to communicate what you like but are definite about what you do not like, good. That is a great place to start.

Your sofa doesn’t have to look like every other sofa you see. Furniture, area rugs and window treatments can all be produced to exact specifications. A professional will design and customize your home to define and achieve your style.

Working with a designer gives you the opportunity to purchase from sources that are specific to designers and architects. This bedroom has fabrics and wall coverings from Osborne & Little.

This gorgeous bedroom was customized with the client’s collection of framed botanicals. I also love the rustic beams with the sophisticated chandelier.

This living room setting includes furniture with custom finishes. Selecting specific finishes allows you to design the exact look you want for your home. 

In this sitting room new furniture is mixed with vintage to create a slightly bohemian style.

A mix of furniture and fabrics create a chic dining style. 

With the guidance of an interior designer you can have a home that is your personal style.

You can see more of Vicki’s work here.

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