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Behind the Scenes - The Initial Consultation

When any potential client reaches out to work with our firm, we arrange to have a discovery phone call. It's always the first step with any project. One of the first questions we ask is "Have you ever worked with an interior designer before?" and from the myriad responses over the years, I've learned that the process of working with an interior designer can be mysterious, confusing and somewhat daunting. That's why I've decided to do a monthly deep dive and break down each of our design phases involved when you invest in hiring our interior design firm to be part of your renovation or new build team. Decisions are much easier to make if you know what's coming, so today I'm reviewing what you should expect from our initial consultation, and why we charge for that meeting.

Nancy Lane Interiors | Houston Residential Interior Design Firm

During our complimentary discovery call, we discuss your project goals and answer preliminary questions about our process, before we make plans to meet at your home for our initial consultation meeting. I've joked before that the discovery call is kind of like a blind date in that we are just beginning to get to know the other before we decide to meet in person for the initial consult (like a first date if you will). Maybe that's a bad joke but I think you get my analogy.

Because we didn't grow up with much, I made it a core value in my business to make interior design available to anyone who prioritized and valued a comfortable, beautiful, and functional home. Not every client we take on is a full service design client and the structure of our initial consultations reflects that, and in fact gives clients the flexibility to choose how to use our consultation time.

For some clients, this consultation meeting may be all that you require to help you initiate plans for your home project. One-time design consultations involve on the spot advice and suggestions for items such as paint colors, hard and soft finishes, window treatments, space layout or furniture arrangement, priority planning, or room styling. These appointments help clients make design decisions quickly and start them on the path in the right design direction. This is primarily for clients who want to focus on one room or issue at a time, or who enjoy the process of finding the right pieces themselves and just need a vision to move forward with.

Alternatively, this meeting can be the first step in establishing your needs, desires & scope of work for your full service project, which could be a complete redesign of one or more rooms in your house to a full teardown renovation or a completely new build. During this first meeting, we walk through each space and discuss your design goals as we take notes and gather all the information we need to create a detailed scope of work. This is a very important part of the process and gives all parties a good idea as to what to expect moving forward. We delve into detail regarding your goals and investment amounts, and afterwards we prepare a letter of agreement + design fee proposal that outlines the scope of work to be completed along with a retainer request to be paid before design work begins.

Modern transitional home office space by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors. Photos by Madeline Harper Photography

Photos by Madeline Harper Photography

I've only had a handful of potential clients question why we charge for the initial consultation and I'm always happy to explain. There's a saying "when we pay, we pay attention." That's true for personal trainers, lawyers, doctors, and countless other service based industries including interior design. We have a specific skill set of spatial awareness, color, composition, and element mixing that doesn't come naturally to others, and we've spent years honing those skills. For as much as people are able to Google, watch You Tube videos, or binge HGTV shows these days, hiring design professionals actually saves you time and money not to mention your sanity. Anyone who has done a design project on their own knows all too well how much time can be spent weighing all the decisions any project requires and taps into a network of tradespeople and vendors that you would have a heck of a time assembling yourself. There is high value in that level of experience and expertise, and that is why I choose to charge for these consultations. At the same time, your confidence and investment in our firm motivates me to always bring my best to every project whether small or large.

The ultimate goal for our firm is to help you by designing a space you love that reflects who you are, what you love, and how you live. The discovery call and initial consultation are the first steps in our design process as we help you achieve your design goals for your home. If you have a busy career and home life, or design just isn't your forte, it only makes sense to invest in hiring professionals who live, love, and breathe design every day. I would be so honored and humbled for us to help you have a home that you love. If you're ready to finally tackle that design project you've been pondering, feel free to reach out via our contact form. Next month it's the next phase of our overall process, Design Concept and Planning, where the real magic happens! Stay tuned!


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