Six Tips To Get the Most Value from Your Interior Designer

Interior Design Pink Mood Board by Alison Giese Interiors

Let’s be honest, interior design is a luxury service. No one technically needs an interior designer, but wow, what a difference it makes!  Your average bedroom can start at $20,000 and your average living room $40,000. Those are big, scary numbers.

But here’s what you get for that…a custom, curated room that reflects your personality. Instead of a page from a catalog, you get a page from your favorite shelter magazine. And, you even get a little bit of couples counseling to achieve design détente when you don’t have the same style.


Interior Design Pink Mood Board by Alison Giese Interiors



A while ago, I wrote a post called “The Seven Reasons Why an Interior Designer Will Save You Money.” Today I wanted to share with you all the ways you can get the most value out of your relationship with your interior designer. There are ways to keep the costs in line and still get exactly what you want, but, like with any intimate relationship, it takes work and communication. Here you go…


1) Have a firm budget.

This is absolutely critical. Be crystal clear with your designer what you have to spend on the entire project, including their fees. They are adept and equipped with resources to keep you within that budget. That being said, renovations are inevitably more expensive than you think so make sure there is plenty of cushions in case something goes wrong or your make last minute changes/additions. It’s always best to have a frank and open discussion with your designer on your financial boundaries at the very beginning of the project and keep that line of communication going throughout the project.


2) Be clear on what you don’t like as much as on what you do like.

Sometimes it’s very hard to tell your designer what you like because you like so many things. But it’s always easy to tell people what you don’t like. By telling your designer this up front you won’t have to make design changes later, which saves extra fees.


AGI cabinet line display by unique kitchens and baths - Alison Giese Interiors



3) Give yourself time.

I cannot stress this enough: bring your designer in at the beginning of the process, not the middle, and certainly not at the end.  The more time you give to the planning and design phase, the easier the construction phase will go. And easy construction means less money spent.


4) Pack your patience.

Renovations are a long and arduous process. They will go longer than you think because a mistake will happen as they always do, something you love will be back-ordered for weeks or months, something will be discontinued and you will have to pivot, your contractor will go on vacation in the middle of the project, and the list goes on. Lean on your designer. They will advocate for you and they will give you moral support during this difficult process. Both are extremely valuable.


Sittin’ pretty and ready to entertain - Regan Billingsley Interiors



5) Limit how often you ask them to find something else.

There will come a time when your designer proposes an element that seems outrageous. Either it feels too expensive or too far out of your comfort zone. Think of design as a pyramid of playing cards where each piece builds on the others. When you take out an element of any design, the pyramid needs to be rebuilt. This can be done but it will cost you money.

So, if it’s a comfort zone issue, then keep an open mind about the design, live with it for a while, and let it sink in. You may find that it speaks to you in the end. If it’s a money thing, then consider that when you ask them to change something you will be spending money on design fees instead of on the pillow or lamp. That can be a zero-sum game and you may not get what you want in the end. Weigh those costs carefully.


6) Set expectations.

This is extremely important to do up front when working with your designer. Make sure you are very detailed on what you expect out of the process. They will come back to you with a scope of work that outlines the project based on what you have told them. Always, always, always read it carefully. This tool is there to protect your interests as much as theirs. Neither of you wants to be blindsided by something because there wasn’t a clear understanding so do your due diligence at the start.


urban farm lake bungalow home interior design by kristin try interiors: gingham and grosgrain fine art and Interiors



At the end of the day, you are investing in your home and your personal well-being. No one needs a Veronica Beard jacket just because they need a jacket. They want a Veronica beard jacket because they know it’s classic and the quality will stand the test of time. It’s an investment just like working with an interior designer is. I promise the cost per wear will be worth it!


Bathroom Interior Design: Turnkey Interior Design in VA | DC | MD



All that being said, when you work with Red Barn Mercantile’s Design Collective you get two teams for the price of one. Now that’s value! It is our aim to make the design process smooth and give you the biggest bang for your proverbial buck. If you’d like to learn more about our Design Collective or would like to make an appointment, please reach out to us at


  • The latest from Amy
Owner Amy Rutherford started Red Barn because she wanted to deliver a service — to provide both old and new in one place. No longer will busy shoppers be limited to reproductions or forced to shop multiple flea markets for the look or gifts they want. The trick in blending old and new, vintage and modern, classic and quirky, is balance. And Amy’s knack for mixing rustic antiques with urban chic has created a look that is both fresh and familiar.

Red Barn Mercantile opened its doors in September 2007 with a single vision in mind: providing old and new to offer our customers signature whole-room designs at great prices.

We’re more than a furniture boutique and provide more personalized service than a big box retailer. We work hard to bring you the highest quality furniture and gifts, the most unique conversation starters, wall hangings and accent pieces, whether they come from off-the-beaten-track flea markets, or the latest designers.

1117 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314



  1. Avatar Nancy Powell says:

    Excellent article !!’ Thanks so much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get your daily dose of all things fashion, beauty, fitness, and design. Locally sourced and locally styled!