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I want to talk to you about the relationship between your design fee and the project budget. It’s a significant factor, and it’s something you should always be aware of.



This relationship can work in your favor in several situations, which is why it’s essential to keep it in mind. When we’re talking about budget, we’re not just talking about the portion that’s going into your checking account. We are talking about the budget of the whole job that you are responsible for to ensure the outcome is good. That is really the part you’re looking at when you’re looking at your fee.


How Fees & Budgets Work Together


As an example, we could say that you did a budget on the fly with a new client and came up with $40,000 to do a nice little living room. Your fee for that would be around $6,000, which is about 15%. Now, you don’t tell people that you charge 15% of the budget, as that will cause pushback.



Instead, this is an internal number you use to make a judgment so that you can call something out when you need to. And if that happens, you shouldn’t say $6,000, since that’s a little too even. You might say $5,900 or $6,200 or something in that range to give you a framework of where you belong.

On the other hand, let’s say you are invited into a massive paint job on a McMansion. There’s a lot of house there, and the paint job is for both outside and inside, and the painting contractor will charge $30,000 to do it. The owner wants to make sure that it’s right because if it is wrong,

they could devalue their property. When you get it right, you’re going to add value to the property, and that’s a pretty significant investment. So, your fee won’t be for a couple of hours to do a paint spec. It will be somewhere around $4,200 or something close to that, based on what they’re spending to get this job done.

The best interior design business advice I can give you is to look at this relationship as insurance. Your design service is insurance to make sure that your client’s investment comes out well. It adds value to their property, it’s beautiful, and creates enjoyment for several years to come. Keep that in mind when you’re pricing yourself so that you can get paid what you’re worth. Don’t take a job that’s got plenty of budget and end up playing it small. Take up some space, ask for what you need, and you’ll get it.

Until next time, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.

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