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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Otte

Hiring an Interior Designer Seems SO Expensive...

Yes it's true! Interior Design can be quite the investment to your home. While here at The Modern Hive, we have structured a variety of design services that work with numerous budgets, hiring an interior designer for a full turn key room transformation service IS an investment that can add up.

We make it seem so easy! Therefore it can be easy to think to yourself as a client, why does this cost so much when this seems to be such a breeze - was it really that much work to implement the design - it really didn't seem like all that much work?! We make it look that way on purpose. You have hired us specifically to take on all of the added stress, problems, and even physical labor that comes along with a turn key project wether you realize it or not. Not to mention the mental space this all takes up in your head. We take on ALL of this for you, and not always but often the client has no idea what all went into making their project successful.

I want to take you on a journey of a recent project that didn't necessarily have big issues; trust me they do come up sometimes because after all we are working with humans and humans do make mistakes, rather this project had a ton of detail that went into it. This project I want to walk you through also had a TON of work, that doesn't always seem so obvious, and time and time again this has proven to be true on almost all of our room transformation projects.

A rendering of our design + vision for the space

Now that we have our concept fully developed, have our clients approvals, deposits, and sign offs we are ready to start procurement and prepping the room above for it's transformation.

Before the transformation:

All product orders are in and everything seems well in our world - luckily this time there were no discontinued products or backorders on our orders. Things are coming along great, until things start to come together..then tiny challenges or unexpected issues start to creep in (as usual) - and this isn't because we don't work with amazingly talented people and vendors, rather there are so many moving parts to any turn key project. Here are just a few challenges that we had to manage through the course of this project:

Custom drapery and pillows: Luckily nothing too 'wrong' happened here, but we were shy two 'drapery' rings upon installing the drapery and our trim vendor also didn't send the right quantity of trim yardage that was ordered for our custom pillows. So after a few email exchanges between vendors to get the right amount of drapery rings and pillow trim, plus the drive time to personally deliver the trim to our workroom (after the fact of already delivering the drapery fabric and other materials) and personally deliver and install the two additional drapery rings - we added about 2.5 additional hours to our work day when it was all said and done.

Installation of light fixture: our electrician had been up to his eyeballs in work over the duration of this project, as are many electricians these days with a shortage in workers. He had told us about a week prior that 'Wednesday' would be the day that he could send someone to install for us. Come Wednesday a notification pings his calendar (because we always set up 30 minute reminders for our trades) and as I am getting in my car to head down to meet him, he tells me he cannot make it work that day and really didn't even expect to be installing anything for us that day. BIG PROBLEM because this place is a condo and kind of hard to get into, plus I hate telling a client someone will be there and all of the sudden they are not. Within minutes he realized that indeed he said he would install on 'Wednesday' but because work had been so hectic for him he forgot to put it in his calendar and overlooked it until he was notified by our reminders. After about 45 minutes of intense stress on my end trying to figure out a time that he could get out there that wouldn't greatly delay our tight schedule for 'prepping the room' before our install day, he was able to pull one of his guys off a job and send him down to us, but that was nearly 1.5 hours after we were initially expecting him. Then of course the light fixture too 2x longer to install than expected. Nearly 4 hours of my day gone, and only one light fixture installed.

Custom Mattress fabric + Upholstery: Ohh this one nearly put me over the edge! We had ordered a beautiful velvet fabric from our vendor and it had to have a few special treatments applied to the fabric so that the fabric would be durable and also fire retardant. When special treatments are applied to fabric, fabric is sent from the vendor's mill to a specialty shop where the treatment takes place. At first I was told the fabric could 'take' the treatment, but then I was told it couldn't hold it. Then after a bit of stress and my rep doing more research, we found out all was good and the fabric would 'take' the treatments we wanted to apply. GREAT! Weeks go by and I start to wonder where the fabric is because we need to get it down to my upholstery guy so we can meet our deadline. So I call the vendor to check on ETA of the fabric and they LOST it!!! So the vendor had to re-order it and have it re-shipped to the specialty treatment workshop - that added 2 weeks onto our lead time. Finally I receive my bolt of fabric and rush it down to my upholster the next day so it can 'get in line' on his production line. About 8 days later I get a random call from the 'specialty treatment workroom' about applying treatment to a bolt of fabric they just received. SUPER confused as I thought I already had a bolt of fabric that had the treatment applied?! So I call into my rep and call my upholster - JUST has he was about to cut the bolt of fabric I delivered to him and told him to stop because at the time we didn't think the bolt I dropped off to him was the bolt that got the treatments applied. Numerous phone calls, emails, a lot of added unnecessary stress, and a day and a half later we determined that the vendor sent an additional bolt of fabric to the 'specialty treatment workroom' and that we indeed had the correct bolt of fabric for my upholster to make the custom mattress cover out of. PHEW. But of course, I still ended up 'receiving' that extra bolt of fabric to my office (even though it was supposed to be returned to the vendor and not shipped to me) and had to work with the vendor to get a return shipping label and drop it off to FedEx. So so much unnecessary work added and stress and 'oh crap' moments.

Mirror: The mirror was kind of a last minute add on. Our client was searching for the perfect vintage mirror and finally landed on a mirror from a local store, Midwest Pickers. Our delivery guys were unable to make it work in their schedule to pick up this beast of a mirror from Midwest Picker's (so so heavy) before our install day, and although I may seem strong (haha right..) there is no way I can carry this mirror up to our clients room, so the delivery guys are a must for this mirror. And so on a Friday afternoon, I personally make a special trip out to Midwest Pickers to have their staff load it up into my car and then personally deliver it to our installer's warehouse for our install day on Monday so it can be loaded onto the delivery truck.

Prepping the Room: Often we have to work around our trades' schedules and other projects they are also managing. Over the Summer our specialty painter was awarded the project of a lifetime (painting a 40' mural in a boutique hotel) and who would blame them for taking on that job?! We had been talking about 'this job' for quite some time but by the time the client was ready to implement, our painter was mid-way done with the mural. We had also been working with a custom carpenter to install the beautiful wall paneling you see AND incorporate a custom column with a capital into the corner of the room. Well of course by the time we were ready to implement our carpenter was mid project for installing custom trim features into the Street of Dreams, which obviously takes priority as it's a public event. By this time our client gave us a deadline for a party they were hosting. Talk about stressful and pulling out my magic wand to work with the trades who are prepping the room to make it ALL happen on time. Lots and lots of communication had to happen here to ensure it was lined up and scheduled on time. A dash of sweat and crossing my fingers that my trades would be able to fit my project into their schedules. Good thing I have a good working relationship with both and they were as flexible as they could be to help make it happen.

Custom Furniture Piece: Our client had shown us an inspiration photo with a beautiful black armoire with gold accents during the discovery phase of the project. During the design phase, we couldn't find anything remotely close, but we did find a furniture piece that had similar lines, it was just entirely the wrong color and had a costal vibe to it with rattan door panels. We ended up buying the piece and worked with three different local trades to customize and alter the piece to what we wanted it to be. We worked with a local craftsman to take out a section of the door and the rattan in the doors, we worked with a glass company to replace the door sections that were rattan and replaced with mirror instead, and we worked with our painter to transform the piece from a pickled white stain to a bold black with gold accents. I can't even begin to describe the amount of communication and work that had to go into making this happen. If I were to calculate how many hours it took me between meeting the various trades to discuss what needed to be done, scheduling a delivery and pick up of the pieces to my painter so that they could be painted, and working with the craftsman on a few challenges that came up with the doors - all in it was probably about 5 hours or more worth of time on my end and that's not even counting any of the time it took my trades to complete the work. They worked just as hard if not harder on this piece to transform it. We had to communicate a LOT to make sure the end result of this piece turned out the way it should.

The Rug: Upon install day, we unrolled the rug and it had a nice little crease running the length of the rug from being rolled up a bit wonky. We asked our client to let it 'breathe' and see if the crease would release naturally. When that didn't happen within 2 weeks, we made a special trip down to their place to steam the crease out.

At this point, just about every single thing we incorporated into the space had some sort of challenge, added communication / collaboration, or something unexpected we had to manage on our clients behalf. Just imaging juggling all of this in the midst of all the other things of life. A lot of sweat and tab bit of stress hoping everything comes together as perfectly as we envisioned it, and a lot of physical labor upon install day moving things around to be situated perfectly, the room was finally perfectly complete and even more beautiful than our rendering when you step into the space in person!

A finally perfectly completed space. My favorite part about my job; seeing all that hard work, sweat, and stress finally come to fruition and completion. I always take just a few minutes to stand and bask in the space once it's finally all done before I walk out the door. One of the most rewarding parts about what we do as interior designers , is seeing how our vision came to life and taking a moment to appreciate the beauty and hard work that went into the space.

Moral of the story is that things do and will go wrong or unexpected additional communication and flexibility tp come up with solutions are required to pull it all together. We handle it, and are happy to do so by taking on all the stress, irritation, and inconvenience for you when the do go wrong or challenges are presented. Half the time you as the client don't even have to know about it or even have to worry about any of it, because we've got it handled - we've got you! This is our profession after all and we are happy to help with all of it!

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