Defining the Interior design services that you can offer

Professional Interior designer working at her desk
You have finally become an interior designer. You chose a great name for your new business and set up a business, so now you can get to work.

The next step is also a very important one: deciding what interior design services to offer your clients. This list of design services should be considered a starting point for your new business – it can be modified as your company changes and grows over time. 

Your interior design list of services should be at the ready when you have an initial consultation with a new client. You can also use it for your website to establish your online interior design services, as well as for any promotional material, whether print or digital, such as brochures and mailers.

Design Services You Can Offer

Most interior designers offer a ladder of interior design services, from short-term, “starter” services to more comprehensive ones. The benefit of using this approach is that starting out with a small project for a new client could lead to additional jobs, especially if the client is happy with the work you provided.  It’s a great way to build a client base when you’re just starting out as an interior designer. As you become more experienced and established, satisfied clients will come back to you, especially if you have established an initial relationship built on trust and communication.

Short-Term Interior design Services

Here are some examples of starter services that you may consider offering at the bottom rung of your ladder:

1. Designer for a Day

This one-time, single-day service gives clients the benefit of using an interior designer for a specific project, such as interior decorating for a specific room. You can establish a fixed price for this interior design or decorating service, which typically involves 4 to 6 hours of design work.

2. In-Home Consultation/Idea Session

This service usually addresses a specific project the client has in mind, such as a remodel or one-room decoration project. You can visit the client’s home, but the session can also be conducted via Zoom or an in-office meeting. These sessions typically last for 1 to 3 hours and can be billed by the hour or at a set price. It’s a great jumping-off point with a new client.

3. Shopping Trip

One-day shopping trips are a popular service offered by interior designers. You can take your client to to-the-trade showrooms that are not available to the general public, or to your favorite vendors with whom you have established relationships. The trips can be used for shopping for furniture, accessories or art, or the fixtures and materials needed for a kitchen or bath remodel.

4. Special Event/Holiday Decorating

Clients often need help with that special party they are planning or need advice getting their home ready for the holidays. As a designer, you can help them by decorating with items they already own, guiding them through rentals and going on a shopping trip to acquire what is needed.

5. Hourly Services

With this type of general service option, clients can hire an interior design for a pre-set hourly fee. This type of service is generally used for smaller projects.

6. Full-Service Interior Design

On the other end of spectrum, and  at the top of your tiered interior design services offering, is “full-service” interior design. This is best defined as a comprehensive service that includes in-person design, purchasing, project management and installation. The interior designer handles the entire project, from initial concept to finishing touches, whether it’s new construction, renovation or remodeling. 

Here is a list of specific services that can be part of the full-service package. Any of these can be purchased separately, often referred to as “a la carte” services:

  • Furniture Layout and Space planning
  • Furniture, Fabric and Accessories Selections and Specifications
  • Tile and Surface Selection and Layout
  • Finish Selections and Specifications
  • Hardware, Plumbing and Appliance Specification
  • Lighting Design
  • Exterior Finish Selections  
  • Interior Detailing
  • Procurement of all Interior Selections
  • Budgeting
  • Project Coordination and Integration with Architect and Contractor
  • Color and Paint Selection
  • Construction Documentation
  • Window Treatments
  • Installation

7. Niche Services 

A great way to jump start your interior design business is to establish a specialty, or niche, which will distinguish you from the competition. If you have an exceptional talent, or special interest, you can really set yourself apart. Perhaps you have a degree in Art History and are great at finding special pieces, or you’ve spent years designing nurseries and bedrooms for your own kids. Here are a few examples:

  • Art Procurement and Curation 
  • Children’s Spaces 
  • Custom Furniture Design 
  • Design to Sell/Staging
  • Eco Design   
  • Designing for Special Needs      
  • Kitchen and Bathroom Design
  • Outdoor Living

8. E-Design

Many interior designs have extended their practices into e-design, online or “virtual” interior design services. This is because of the pandemic, which has limited in-person meetings, and to accommodate the do-it-yourself generation who like to get involved in their interior design projects. Its greatest advantages are that it allows you to work with clients all over the world, and that it is an ideal option for clients who may not be able to afford traditional interior design services.

Make Sure to Be Clear About the Services You Offer

Finally, after you have decided what interior design or decorating services you will be offering your clients, it is important that they are very well defined at the beginning, to avoid any misunderstanding down the road. Here are a few tips:

Name of the Service: The name should describe what the service is, such as “Designer for a Day.” Funny or confusing names won’t cut it.

Description of the Service and What is Included: You should describe exactly what service is offered. Make a list of all the services and where they will be performed. If necessary, state specifically what is not included.

Timeframe: Let your clients know how much time the service will take, whether it’s hours or weeks.

Cost/Pricing: Be very clear about how you will charge for the service you are providing.

Target Audience: Explain what type of client would benefit from the particular service and why. For example, e-design is good for DIYers.

Terms: These should include payment terms and cancellation policy.

As mentioned above, there is nothing preventing you from “tweaking” the list of services you offer down the road. You might gain a new skill, such as 3D renderings, or start to specialize in something new. Maybe your business will grow so much you will only take on whole-house projects, and not bother with single rooms. Perhaps you feel there is no longer a demand for e-design. The important thing is to let perspective clients know exactly what interior design services you offer.

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