The Hidden Costs of Interior Design

Well, right off the bat I will tell you that the hourly rate for interior decorators and designers vary drastically (see blog detailing the difference between Interior Decorators and Interior Designers). In Calgary, I have seen decorators ranging from $80/hr to $200/hr. Our rate at Unshelf Design is $90/hr.

That said, the cost of interior decorating isn’t solely an hourly rate. Some additional expenses may be necessary to complete the project. The title of this blog may be misleading as these expenses are not ‘hidden’ from you purposely, it simply means that they may pop up unexpectedly as the project unfolds. We at Unshelf Design are completely transparent with these prices and let our client’s know as soon as they may be required.

Product Shipping Costs

We do our best to find local furniture and decor that will suit your needs and match our design plans. Not only do we like to support local and reduce our carbon footprint, but the shipping costs of some products can really stretch a budget. Sometimes, however, that perfect piece is just not simply available where/when we need it from the local retailers. Either that, or our design wholesale connections can offer a much better price – even with shipping.

(seriously though… how cute is this picture)

This is important to keep in mind as you scroll through your favourite websites and mentally create a budget for your project, as shipping can sometimes cost as much as a few hundred dollars more than sticker price for large items.

We collect payment for products before the order is placed. If the vendor needs to calculate the cost of shipping after the order has been placed, we will bill our clients for shipping separately, prior to delivery.

Storage (before and after)

Storage plays a huge part in a design project, especially if it includes furniture. When ordering furniture online, or even when picking it up in store, things are not often all available at the same time. In order to minimize the intrusion on your life, and to guarantee the biggest positive impact of your new space, we highly recommend storing the items in a storage unit until everything is in and ready to be installed. Then, we can come in for one ‘install day’ and set up your entire space to completion. This keeps your new furniture and decor safe while the rest of the project is finalized.

Another reason you might need storage is for ‘decluttering’. Sometimes there is just too much stuff in your space to work into your dream home vision. We encourage and help our clients to let go of things that no longer serve them or bring them joy (donating those products to people who need and will love them), but we understand that there are some things that you have to keep regardless. In these cases, there is no reason to keep the clutter around (a cluttered house is a cluttered mind), and so we recommend investing in a storage unit so that you can still have and enjoy your beautifully designed home, and hold onto those keepsakes you are not ready to part with.

clutter and storage reasons
Did we say we REALLY try to encourage the trash, donate, recycle rule?

Unexpected Labour

We never really know what we are going to run into until we get in there. As interior decorators, we will not be worried about big expensive renovation projects that pop up when you start tearing walls down (since we don’t deal with anything structural), but there are still cases that unexpected labour costs arise. For example, when we move a picture or an entertainment unit to find a giant hole in the ground, or the flooring does not stretch all the way to the wall under a bench, or an overloaded circuit prevents lighting changes, or any number of other small projects that need to be fixed before we can complete the room.

In these instances, we will recommend a few people to you who you can hire directly to help with the task at hand. We will work with them to get that room back on track so we can continue to focus on design.

Rush Fees

Most clients want their office done ‘yesterday’ – understandably! Some of the rooms in your house are used so frequently that living with them as they are (whether it be non-functional, uninspiring, or completely empty) just cannot work for long. And we are absolutely happy to turn up the gas and get the project moving in hyperdrive. However, where there is a ‘rush’ there are ‘rush fees’. These rush fees are often charged by the vendor to get your order to the front of the line, and also show up as shipping costs (as we are all very familiar with).

We as decorators do not usually charge rush fees unless things start to really tilt into late nights and long weekends to finish projects, since we charge hourly anyway – and these are decided on a case-by-case basis.

In summary, it is never that there are ‘hidden fees’ like your cell phone and internet plans have, it is simply that sometimes things come up that need to be dealt with, and some of those cost money. So while we always give an estimate on the cost of a project, it is just that – an ‘estimate’.