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Design on Your Own Terms

Confused or intimidated by how interior designers charge?

Michael Richman creates rooms that are both tailored and functional.
Michael Richman creates rooms that are both tailored and functional. More designer examples »
 

Confused or intimidated by how interior designers charge? Wondering if you can afford to hire one, or if you can ask for à la carte service? Traditionally, design services are billed hourly, and the designer makes a percentage off each purchase made for the client. Some designers prefer to work on entire homes. We’ve noticed more firms these days are trying to attract customers with flexibility and transparent flat-rate fees. It’s entirely possible that any firm will negotiate terms, but these new services are aiming marketing efforts squarely at the client who doesn’t want to give a designer carte blanche.

 

R Studio
312-755-1551
rstudiohome.com

What It Offers
The chance to work with a respected, experienced firm, Michael Richman Interiors, with an impressive track record in Chicago.

Ideal For
Clients who have limited time and budget, can make decisions quickly, and prefer custom to retail.

What You’ll Get
A game plan. Goods (which are extra) typically come from the Mart and Richman’s other sources (he also manufactures custom pieces). In three meetings with Richman, R Studio can select and order everything for a room, with goods arriving in six to ten weeks.

The Cost
$500 to $850 (not including furniture), depending on the room.

Extra Credit
Pre-priced packages allow you to budget to the dime (for example, $6,500 will get you a dining table, six chairs, buffet, and pendant light).

 

Pret-a-Habiter
800-205-0043
pretusa.com

What It Offers
A fully decorated home in 30 to 90 days, inspired by the prêt-à-porter (off-the-rack clothing) concept.

Ideal For
Clients who need help with proportions, color, and accessories and want “complete transparency in how their money is being spent,” says owner Carl Stibolt. “We don’t do any mark-ups.”

What You’ll Get
The New York–based company’s Chicago designer David Cieslak will help you determine a style, create a floor plan, and provide different-priced options, which will be presented via your online myPret page.

The Cost
Average $2,500 a room (price varies by size of space), not including furniture.

Extra Credit
Professional discounts offered by retailers are passed on to clients. Orders can be tracked and managed online.

 

Shop the Showrooms
Book through the Peninsula Chicago, 312-573-6695

What It Offers
A one-on-one personalized tour of all the to-the-trade showrooms you’ve ever hoped to shop, with interior designer Merilee Elliott (merilee.com).

Ideal For
Design-savvy amateurs who lack access to the goods. “An interior designer is like a marriage. I’m just a first date,” Elliott says.

What You’ll Get
15 percent off any items costing more than $1,000, and greater savings on more substantial purchases. “The more you buy, the more you save.”

The Cost
$250 for the first two hours, $100 for each additional hour.

Extra Credit
Elliott will meet you in the lobby of the Peninsula hotel to discuss your objectives over scones and cookies before taking a limo over to the Mart.

 

Related: Designer Samples »

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