When you complete my True Colour Expert Workshop you get access to a Private Facebook page for graduates only. This page has truly taken on a life of its own. It’s completely optional, it’s free (so far) and to date we have 50 members. This page has become a great place to not only get advice about projects you are working on but to brag, vent, and everything in between. “It’s like having your very own Design Sorority!” Ellen Rhett
Membership alone is almost worth the price of admission to one of my workshops. Here’s what Linda Holt said: “I LOVE this page. For me it is continuing education; not only about color but for other design related questions and issues. The members are so supportive and willing to share their collective knowledge and experience. This is the BEST page on Facebook and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”
Lately the question of how to charge was posted so I thought I’d answer it in more detail here:
I recently had dinner with a designer who does product development and design for the outdoor industry. She says when she is talking to a new client she’ll tell them straight: “Because of all my years of experience, I’ve already made all the rookie, learning mistakes that I won’t be making with you!” This sentence alone is the reason you should be prepared to pay for experience. You are making expensive purchases in a home renovation or redecoration so hiring a designer with a lot of experience will come with a higher price tag.
And like my friend Liz said “If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur!”
So when someone calls and asks me what I charge for a colour consultation, because they just need me to “Choose a colour for their living room and that’s it,” I let them know I’ll probably be too expensive if that’s all they need. My responsibility is to create a look and feel for your style of home, and what works for you and your aesthetic.
I recently consulted with a couple who were about to install gray cork in their kitchen. Their house had honey oak floors throughout and they had couriered me three samples in advance. Light to dark gray. My advice was to nix that floor and take the oak floor through instead.
Why did I say that? Because I toured their house (on-line) first and it was colourful, eclectic, personal and not a single thing was gray. No linen, no gray lime-washed distressed wood. Nada. My advice was based on creating flow, based on their personal aesthetic and their style of home. Their kitchen would otherwise have screamed, “We renovated during the gray trend,” because nothing in their house repeated that colour scheme nor did they intend to introduce it anytime soon.
What was the value of creating a timeless kitchen?
Only they or you can say. But when they sell their house 15 years from now (when the gray trend is long gone), you might be able to put a number on it. However, had they hired someone to simply “pick a colour,” that’s what they would have received. A colour on the walls, gray or who knows it could have been anything except the most important advice, “Do not install those floors, because here’s the look that you will end up with.”
Clients often expect designers to show up at their house for a free consultation. They want to make sure they like ‘your look,’ etc. I totally disagree with this strategy for getting new clients.
My advice to the designers and decorators who attend my courses is to charge a minimum of two hours (okay start with at least 1 1/2) and whatever that is, add an additional $50 for the first consultation. On-line pricing is different as we don’t need to leave the house.
The first consultation is when I choose not just wall colours for a client’s home, but create flow, transition colours from room to room taking all existing and new finishes into consideration. I give advice on flooring colour, countertops, furniture style, colour and layout including everything in between. Which order to do your renovations and where to spend your money first to get the best bang for the buck. The next story (below) illustrates this perfectly:
Recently I was hired to consult with a couple who had hired three designers before they called me. I was their fourth designer and it was my advice they followed because they had read my blog enough to know they would like my aesthetic because it resonated with theirs.
This couple had a new baby and a big house to decorate and renovate. After I consulted with them on which flooring to take throughout, countertops and kitchen cabinet colours, which furniture to buy in the great room down to the coffee tables and drapes, chose lighting (on-line) for the entry, kitchen and dining room, I was standing at the door about to leave. . .
My client said, “I really don’t like the way the walls slant here towards the doorway to the laundry room, it just bugs me and I want to fix it.” This was my advice:
“You are a new mom, with a currently dated house and not one room that looks the way you want it to right now. Not one space where you can sit with your new baby and say ‘Ahhhh, I love this room’, so do NOT spend your money on doorways to the laundry room, spend it instead on some great furniture (that we picked out) from IKEA, that slipcover from Bemz and the white drapery we talked about.’
And then you will have a space that will fill you with happiness when you walk in the door (right past the laundry room).
What’s the best money-saving advice you give your clients?
Download my eBook, It’s All in the Undertones. If you have a computer, you can download my book!
To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!
If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.