Working With a Designer When All You Need Is a Little Help

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By Judith Taylor

There are several ways you can work with an interior designer. We recently looked at full design services and requesting design plans as options, but sometimes those are far more than you need. If you're looking for just a bit of direction to set you on the right track, a design consultation might be ideal for you.


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This is great for the person who is pretty comfortable with style and is handy around the house but would like a professional opinion as guidance. You gain the confidence that will send you off in the right direction.

What will it cost? For a specific consultation (paint or window treatments, for example) you can expect to spend about $150 per hour and up (many designers will do a color consultation on a single room for less), depending on how experienced the designer is.

For the second, more intensive option (the brain dump), the cost is higher. You can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $750 and up, depending on the designer's experience. What you'll get, though, can help you avoid some costly mistakes and really hone in on where your money will be well spent. Check with designers for rate quotes.

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Can you read the undertones of fabric, paint colors and materials like wood, stone and carpet and know whether they'll work together? A design consultation can deliver a big payoff for you if not.

The leading producer of house paint offers 3,500 paint colors (130 in its off-white collection alone). A paint chip can look lovely in the store's lighting but dreadful in your home. (Stores frequently have fluorescent tube lighting.) A small investment in a color consultation can help you get it right the first time, so you save time and money by not having to repaint.


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A color consultation is particularly beneficial for exterior paint jobs. Picking colors for outside application is especially tricky because the lighting isn't consistent.

17 Things Color Consultants Want You to Know




Window treatment consultations are popular. Blinds, drapes or shades can be hashed out in just one or two appointments.




Need help visualizing storage options? Designers have a lot of practice finding opportunities in unexpected places.

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A designer can give you the confidence to add that wow factor or steer you away from a choice you may regret. You'll get professional help and the personal satisfaction of knowing you did a lot of the work yourself. Maybe you just need a trained eye to help bring your vignette to life or artistry to your special collection.

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