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To Style or Not to Style

Nancy of Houston based residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors    |    Photo by Madeline Harper Photography

Let's talk about access-or-ies, let's talk about you and me, let's talk about all the good things and the rad things that we see...(can anyone name the 90s female duo that sang a song with the same riff? If so, you're my tribe ;) but I digress...back to the blog post. During our initial consultations with clients, I often get confused looks when I bring up the accessories budget.

It's important to remember that all of your Pinterest images or inspiration photos of aspirational spaces you have saved when dreaming of your own home design project likely have a carefully curated assortment of decor within the frame of the photo. Without all of those pieces, the space would very much feel empty, which is exactly what happens when clients aren't realistic about or have not even considered what level of styling they prefer in their new space!

It's often the most overlooked part of a project by a potential client and for that reason, it's become one of my first concerns and why we discuss accessories along with the big ticket items like furniture during our first in person meeting for your project.

As a part of our onboarding process, once a consultation has been confirmed on our schedule for a new client, they receive an informative electronic brochure we refer to as our "Furniture Budget Breakdown" where we use historical data from our design projects to break down examples of different types of rooms with three different investment tiers. We ask our clients to review this document before our meeting in order to educate them since we buy furniture and decorative items daily whereas our clients purchase seldom (if ever) do.

As we dig into numbers with clients, I understand that, to some, the numbers can sound completely out of whack for buying vases, books, and other decorative objects, but you've likely spent that amount already. The key is that it's been over time, as you collected these pieces during the course of living your life.

Modern transitional home office completed by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors    |    Photo by Madeline Harper Photography

During our initial consultation in your home, we will walk through all spaces relative to your project and discuss whether there are any items in the room that you want to keep or reuse. If the quality is still there in terms of furniture, and vice versa, if a piece is not a good fit based on condition or desired aesthetic, we will be kind but honest in our assessment. Once we know have identified the scope of work and the specific items you need our help in selecting as we design and create your new room, we discuss your investment amount per item to see what you're comfortable spending. By the end of our consultation, we will formulate a custom budget for your project (based on quality of new pieces and what pieces we're reusing).

At the bottom of that budget sheet, we have a line item specifically for accessories. Based on our experience, 10-15% of the overall budget is the normal range for ample accessories for a project. While I've had some clients question that number, I usually ask them to look around their space and count up how many objects they have on shelves and surfaces (starting at $20-$30 a piece) as an example and soon they're reaching for a calculator because the total number grows pretty quickly. Note: That number doesn't even include potential art or wall decor, original vs. printed, framed or not. Believe me, you can spend way more depending on personal preference and custom pieces.

Examples of book shelf styling ideas by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors

Once the major pieces for your project have been ordered, we have a pretty good idea of the install date based on our logistical tracking programs. At this point in our process, we have a styling meeting to review what we have already purchased on your behalf or have on hand and then identify any necessary items that we need and know will really finish off the space.

Scan-Asian inspired modern transitional kitchen by Houston residential interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors    |    Photo by French Blue Photography

For full service projects, we devote on average two full days to accessories shopping, either online or in person, to find the right pieces for desired aesthetic. We usually buy what we love when we see it, especially these days. I tell my team not to wait because it may not be there when we come back for it. We have a storage styling closet in our studio, and anything we find while out and about, or when we're walking through a market like Round Top or High Point, gets purchased on the spot and goes straight into that styling closet. But if your style doesn't align with what I've collected in that closet, never fear, your project will be getting a customized shopping experience!

I've shared before that we will absolutely work in any pieces we've already identified as being important to you, but it is important to put an investment reserve down in the beginning for these accessories. By the end of a project, you absolutely will not be wanting to spend more money on decorative items, so we advise clients to consider that investment as part of the initial costs. You'll be able to see your space fully styled with your vision in mind, instead of a room half finished with only the main furniture and decor items in your space. Remember it's all about layers in design.

In my experience, clients who commit to a full accessories budget from the beginning are always more satisfied with the overall transformation of their home at the end of their project! If you want to chat about an upcoming project of your own that you'd like to collaborate with us on, feel free to reach out and chat. We'd love to connect with you!


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