Realistic expectations in Interior Design

Unfortunately, some media sources present an unrealistic view of interior design to the public. I don't want to name any names; but, you guys have all seen or heard of at least one HGTV show that features an unrealistic budget, an unrealistic time frame, and an unrealistic scope of work that somehow all gets resolved within the 30 or 70 minute run time of the episode. Unfortunately, portrayals like this don't help the interior design industry. They don't help the designers. They don't help the clients. They certainly don't help the contractor. Having a realistic expectation of what things cost and the time that it takes to provide such a service is an important key to managing the expectations of clients and keeping the design process smooth. Everyone should be on the same page and clients should know what to expect and when to expect it at every turn.
I get a chance to educate my clients on the realistic processes and procedures that go into a design project. As much as I would love to say that it's all just picking pretty paint colors and making sure that the sofa’s just right, it's not. It's not that simple especially when you have the opinions of multiple stakeholders to consider. What exactly are the things that each client should be aware of that shouldn't be misconstrued? Well, I'm about to get into it.


Number 1: Budget.

I’d love to see a show do a deeper dive into how the budgets are created - from initial thoughts and brainstorming all the way to the final calculations. Whether it’s for a remodel project or a new-build, the budget for construction must be considered from all angles and multiple reviews for different scenarios should be analyzed. After the final budget is proposed, anywhere from 10 to 20% of the construction costs should be allotted for troubleshooting smaller issues and finishing touches, on top of your contingency. No one wants to get into it with a subcontractor with an unforeseen problem that they weren't expecting and they’re suddenly out of money. There’s a momentum to spending money once you’ve started and a responsible designer will help you be prepared for the true costs and rein in those potentially problematic impulses.


Number 2: Time.

The time frame for the project - that's always something that can be hit-or-miss because we never know when contractors are going to have enough availability, even when promises are made to prioritize and show up. You need at least one person available to make the calls, confirm the schedules, and measure progress on a weekly if not daily basis. Additionally, the delivery timeframes for furniture and other large elements have been more and more unpredictable over the last two years, especially with COVID19. The ripple effects of different stages not being completed in a timely manner will always be concerning and minimizing that type of problem is truly one of the best reasons to work with a designer helping you with project management.

Scope of work

Number 3: Scope of Work

Design projects are sometimes fully planned and conceived from start to finish; but it’s not uncommon for the scope of work to evolve and expand as the process unfolds. Many shows will gloss over the issues that arise or a change in direction with a quick fix that is in place before the viewer can actually understand what happened.  I’d like to see more shows detail the uncertainty or true conflict of opinion that needs to be skillfully navigated by the designer when working with her clients. The best possible experience for both parties is one where design decisions are made together, not unilaterally imposed on a client who trusts their designer implicitly. You deserve someone who will take your input seriously and work hard so you get exactly what you want in the end-a space designed just for you! Now if this sounds appealing we can start planning your project today. Contact Wildwood Court at to get our conversation started!  What type of experience do want to have with your designer?


September 13, 2021

Realistic expectations in Interior Design