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New Rules of Interior Design Business

“Help – my business is shrinking!”

There have been several designers who shared that their businesses have been sliding backward for the last couple of year – getting smaller instead of growing because clients are buying less furniture and products.

These designers are not newbies, they’re experienced designers with a lot of talent, creativity, years in the business, and should be at their peak…but it’s not going that way for them.

The first step is to realize the state of your business is not a permanent situation and that it’s a matter of:

  • Having a mindset shift
  • Approaching jobs differently
  • Understanding business as it is today

These small shifts make huge differences in what happens in the end.

Shift #1 – You are a designer of spaces, not a seller of furniture.

Let go of the idea you have to sell furniture and replace it with the idea that you have to sell design.

As a designer, you’re selling your creativity and getting paid for it.

It’s true that it’s a little bit harder to do, mostly because it involves a mix of self-esteem and courage, but it’s possible to do and you can absolutely do it too!

When you’re paid well for your design services, it doesn’t make any difference if they buy furniture or not, and that’s a good thing.

Your company can instead offer to purchase as a customer service add-on if they want white glove concierge level service. A win-win for all!

Shift # 2 – Approaching jobs differently

Start projects with more planning, framing of boundaries, and explaining the client expectations from the very beginning.

Explaining the process, the appointments, what you’re going to do and when will change your experience with clients, it makes them realize you’re a partner (or even in charge) instead of a personal shopper!

Shift #3 – Understanding business as it is today

Don’t be afraid to ask questions like, “Do you like to shop on the internet?”

This is a perfectly logical question and if the answer is yes, it’s totally fine as long as you know ahead of time.

It’s only a problem when you think you’re going one way with a client and suddenly they change direction in the middle of the project, and you’re not prepared nor protected.


Here’s how to respond If you ask a potential client if they like to shop on the internet and they launch into a 20-minute monolog on how many hours (and days) they spent researching something so they could save $60:

  • Wow, that’s really great and I’m guessing you’d like me to design this and give you a specification sheet so you could buy it, right?”
  • She’s probably going to say, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I want to do!

And that’s fine because you know this ahead of time and can charge appropriately.

HINT: When you finish the design and prepare to present it to the client…do it all at once, not a piece of furniture at a time.

Why? Because a piece at a time is you selling furniture.

Sell the design as a whole design, really put on a show and when you present the budget, say something like, “All of this is within your budget, and is actually a few hundred dollars less than the budget we agreed on.”

When you do this, clients are going to start saying yes to your furniture package and you’ll sell furniture anyway – another win-win!

These kinds of mindsets, strategies, and interior design business tools are like recipes.

When you follow the recipes, you get better and more predictable results and it’s going to make a huge difference in your business!

Now, if you need this kind of support in your business, please reach out to us and talk to one of our IDBA coaches.


They’re happy to talk to you and love helping you. Our coaches will help you figure out where you’re stuck and what the next best step is for you.

You’ll learn more about IDBA, what our program is about, and whether those are a fit for you or not.

There’s no obligation nor push to it, we want you to be supported in your business and know you’re an amazing part of IDBA.

Until I see you again, design something beautiful and get paid what you’re worth.

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