|January 2005 - page 3
Negotiating a Creative Deal with a Designer
One of the most distressing problems with interior designers (and the reason why they often drive nicer cars than you) is the fact that their basic business model simply is designed against your best interests. Interior designers want to charge anywhere from 20 to 33 percent markup on what they purchase for you. On top of that, and despite their cries to the contrary, they get discounts and kickbacks from the firms that they buy from. This means they often are making money on both ends of each of your transactions.
If you are just buying furniture and painting rooms, then this model can work, but if you are getting down and dirty with a bigger project, I recommend that you negotiate a different relationship. Despite my long list of nightmares with designers, I was ultimately able to find a firm to help me in a way that made sense and brought my entire home and my theater together with very nice results. The deal we worked was on an hourly basis. There was no markup on anything other than the art and sculptural pieces we bought, which they sell from their retail location. The difference was huge. The level of efficiency went up dramatically, while the costs stayed reasonable. Suzi Scott Design did things like finding me a $120 window treatment that matched the Zen theme in my den at a store like Target. What did they care it looked right, did the job and met my budget at a time when I was broke. To have the woman who did the blackout drapes in my theater do room treatments was $1,950. It wasnt worth it, and thanks to me negotiating their need to make a commission, I got a deal. You too can work such a deal. Did Suzi Scott do some expensive work for me? Certainly, but the firm earned points by proving that they were truly interested in getting me real value in my project without breaking the bank on every item of every room. They established trust with me and that is the sign of people you can work with over and over again. On the same hourly deal, I hired their firm to design the Audio Video Revolution offices in Beverly Hills.
Not all designers are Antichrists. You will need to work with them even if you dont like them as friends. You have to understand that they work at your convenience. Accept no drama ever. Dont fear firing a firm if they get out of line. The longer you wait for a cancerous situation to cure itself, the more money it will cost you in the end. Ask your AV designer candidly if he or she is comfortable working with your designer. The last thing you need is some flamboyant numb-nuts convincing your wife that you need to toss your big ugly Revel speakers for some heartless in-walls. You dont have to and should not stand for that kind of foolishness.
Negotiate yourself a good deal and get excited about what bringing a creative force in can do for the enjoyment of your room. With automated drapes, lighting controls, advanced system controls, ultra-comfortable theater seating and a beautiful overall design, your theater can be a selling point that makes your house more valuable. For this reason alone, it might be worth considering a few calls to get your next design project started.
Suzi Scott Design
4004 Riverside Drive
Burbank, California 91505
Simply Home Entertainment
Tim Duffy and Christopher Hansen
499 Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210