Frequently Asked Questions
I get a lot of questions from potential clients. So to help you get a better understanding about working with a designer, I am posting some of the most commonly asked questions here. I know you will have other questions you would like to ask, but don't worry, we can personally review those questions over the phone. I'm here to help!
Why Should I Hire an Interior Designer?
Because... their knowledge, expertise and guidance can help prevent costly mistakes.
Because... they can help you define and enhance YOUR own distinctive style.
Because... they know how to work with architects and contractors.
Because... they have established relationships with skilled trades people.
Because... they are thoughtful about how to best allocate your budget to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Because... for larger projects, they are able to supervise your project from concept to completion.
Because... interior designers can make the most of what you have and thoughtfully introduce what you need making for a harmonious and inviting new space.
Because... they are trained to make the most of available existing spaces or by creatively redesigning new spaces that will improve your home's overall aesthetic.
Because... they know how to take the flaws of a space and camouflage it, while affectively accenting the assets.
Because... they are able conceptualize the big picture of the project, allowing them to create beautiful spaces that make daily living functional, comfortable and personal.
Because... if you select wisely, your interior designer will make it fun, educational and alleviate most of the stress that comes with your project.
Why should I choose Miccaro Designs?
I am sure most of us have had past experiences dealing with businesses that don't own up to what they say. You may be tired of poor communication and lack of professionalism from people you have hired to do a job. Interior design is largely a referral business. Accordingly, I regard my clients satisfaction in the highest regard. In order to ensure an equal level of dedicated service and attention, I limit the number of projects I work on at any given time. I pride myself on treating each client as though they are my only client giving them my 100% attention, focus and top notch service. Respectfully, I also treat the client's budget as if it were my own money, making sure to thoughtfully and successfully get the most out of every dollar invested. Since 2008, I have been a member of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association which mandates the dedication of promoting professionalism from it's members. I also work closely with other fellow members in the industry ensuring that collaboration on projects is held to the highest standard. I'm not happy unless YOU are happy. It's important to me to receive a positive reference from you at the end of the project based on my own merit.
How much do you charge?
I offer a combination of either a fixed fee for certain projects and an hourly fee for other services I offer. You'll find that I'm competitively priced and offer various services that will personally fit both your needs and your pocket book. My hourly fee is $125 hour. Because I believe that everyone deserves a well designed interior space at any budget, I offer services for smaller projects and budgets, since many other design firms won't even consider a project smaller in size. Miccaro Designs makes hiring the design help you need affordable in two ways. Being a small and efficient company allows me to focus on offering a hands-on service at reasonable rates compared to large organizations with high overhead. Secondly, I do not mark up the cost of contractor labour, furniture or fixtures. My clients pay only for the invested hours of design time, therefore the discounts I am able to attain gets passed on to them. For a detailed list of services and rates, please refer to my "Services" pages.
How do I estimate a budget for my project?
Each and every space or project will have a different budget, depending on the scope of the project and the client's wish list. Therefore it's impossible to estimate a general price for renovation or design jobs. It's important to let the designer know what you can afford, what your personal preferences are regarding materials and products and of course the overall scope of the project. It's about being thoughtful on how to successfully achieve the vision that will bring your dream to reality within your budget. If you already have some specific items in mind, such as certain appliances, furniture pieces or a particular wall cover, I recommend that you get the prices of these items in advance and factor that into your preliminary budget as a first step. And of course, don't forget to include some contingency into the budget for the unexpected.
How long does a project typically take?
Each project will require it's own timeline depending on the level of complexity. A renovation project that predominantly involves decorating can take about 3-6 months from start to finish. Keep in mind that when introducing custom ordered products, from upholstery to kitchen cabinetry, generally takes 8 to12 weeks for delivery before they can be installed. Larger renovation projects, which involve structural changes generally take much longer depending on the scope of work. While projects that just involve the addition of decor accessories can be accomplished pretty quickly.
What can I expect while the project is in progress?
As designers, we understand that the overall process can be an intense experience for many that have not gone through a new build or renovation project before. Clients invite me into their homes and families and they entrust me with that very private part of their lives. I take that invitation and responsibility very seriously. As designers, it's part of our job to help educate the client and make them feel more comfortable about our working relationship and how the overall design/build process will unfold. Think of it as a giant puzzle with many pieces that need to come together to complete a very special and personal picture. It's all about making wise decisions and the execution of those decisions that allow for your project to unfold and come to reality. It's a collaborate team effort, where patience and faith in your designer, the selected team and their abilities bring your vision to life. When you are in the thick of things, ideally you need to take a deep breathe and remember to try and keep things in prospective. There is always less dust at the end of the tunnel and I have found...a little humour goes a long way.
I have long term decorating plans but don't have all the money now. Can you still help?
Yes I can! When decorating or renovating your home I recognize that many projects need to be planned out in terms of affordability and convenience. I can devise a long term plan that will offer you ways of slowly but successfully working toward your dream space or home. With proper planning, I can help you avoid the add-on look of a poorly designed piecemeal project. You know the old saying..."Failing to plan, is planning to fail"!
How do I prepare for my intial consultation with an interior designer?
In an effort to help me create beautiful and functional spaces for you, I suggest developing a visual reference file of images of items that capture the feeling, color, textures and function ability of what you are trying to achieve. Will the space or spaces be formal or casual, traditional or contemporary? You can even draw inspiration from many sources such as fashion, art, travel, sports, books, music, stationary, etc. The pictures you show me don't only have to be pictures of interior spaces although it helps. Show me whatever tickles your fancy!
The more meaningful images you can share makes it easier for me to understand your preferences and design your unique environment. Have fun compiling your reference file knowing that it will be a valuable tool moving forward.
The second item you must be prepared to discuss is your project budget.
Rather then approach your project from a standpoint of how much you think it will cost, I have found it more effective to give thoughtful consideration to what you are comfortable investing in your project. Once you have determined the budget, I'll work with you to determine how your money should be allocated as far as interior finishes, fixtures, furnishings, labour etc. As well as suggest how to best maximize your budget while producing an excellent result. Solidify a budget you're comfortable with before your initial consultation and you'll feel in control of the process, save time and money and assist me in working more effectively.
Will I get cool 3d renderings or sample/furniture mood boards before my project starts?
3D renderings and mood boards can be provided for any larger scale project.
They are a very effective visual tool to help convey design concepts and assures that both the designer and client is on the same page with the overall finished aesthetic of a specific space or spaces. I do offer Mood Boards for clients investing in my full service design package. They are digitally produced and shared with my clients showing imagery of various items or products to help open up discussion on design concepts and details, furnishings, finishes, paint schemes, wall and window treatments as necessary. The design can be tweaked as necessary to ensure that the design direction is solidified and approved prior to the renovation or a custom build.
3D renderings are not always considered a standard, due to the immense amount of time it takes to crate them and I am always trying to be smart with design hours. A 3D rendering can take 1-2 days of invested time to produce. Based on the size and complexity of your project, I will give you an estimate on the costs involved to have them produced. Generally custom cabinetry is the only area where 3D drawings has proven to be highly worthwhile. All cabinet companies provide their own scaled, working drawings after receiving a preliminary design from a designer. These are then submitted to the designer and client for approval and any necessary changes are made prior to production and install. Since I am an artist, I am very comfortable with sketching out scaled, elevation drawings to introduce preliminary concepts (see examples below). However, 2D computer drawings can be generated at assist you with how the final space will look if you request it.
What are cad drawings and will I need them?
CAD, or computer automated drawings, are an integral part of the design process. They help designers, contractors and various trades plan everything from the details of the build, custom built-ins, plumbing and lighting layout, flooring and tile placement along with furniture layouts. They allow us to have one master plan that can then be easily communicated to the client and all trades. Different projects require different levels of drawings and this will be determined once we have decided the scope of your project.
Will we drive around to different stores to see the furniture in person?
Typically we do not go store-to-store to shop for individual furniture pieces without first having a design plan. Shopping for furniture in person without some firm direction in design greatly eats into the design fee and budget quickly. It takes much longer to physically travel between stores to try and source appropriate pieces for a particular design then to recreate the shopping experience by initially shopping on-line. Once the pieces have been sourced on-line, I gather as many photo's & specifications as possible to help you understand my thoughts and help you make an informed decision. All of this info is presented to you in my design file which I will eventually present to you and opens up further discussion. Once you have initially approved items, then it makes sense in invest time together to make sure that these select items are as they appear in the photos, are comfortable and make sense to the overall finished design and budget. I always recommend personally test driving occasional chairs, sectionals, sofa's and mattress of course! Also, when working with custom upholstered goods it's necessary to collect actual fabric swatches to assist with accurate colors being introduced.
During the preliminary design stage, if you are not comfortable working with on-line catalogue images and absolutely must see and touch the furniture, no problem at all. Let me know at the initial consultation and I will be sure to budget more time in the estimate to allow for in-person shopping.
What if I have a really tight budget and want to purchase most of the items on my own?
After the design is complete, I'm happy to provide you with a shopping list of items you wish to purchase. This list will have the product name, model and description to aid in purchasing. Please note, if your purchase items on your own, many times things will end up costing you more since you will not be able to take advantage of any trade discounts.
Should I collect quotes from additional design firms?
Absolutely and it's an expected practice. My goal is to make sure that you make a well informed decision when looking for help with designing that interior that you deserve. There are many great design firms out there that do great work and then of course there are others firms that are no so great. As much as I want to help you with your project, I want to make sure you're comfortable with the firm you have chosen to assist you with your project. That's the name of the game. It's about mutual trust, faith in the select designer, open communication and respect moving forward. The design process then unfolds naturally, in a comfortable way and becomes a pleasure for all involved. We are in this together, so let's make it a fun, positive experience.
What is the sequence of phases that my design project will go through?
If you have not worked with an interior designer previously, the phases your project will move through may be unfamiliar. As such, I have outlined the process and what you can expect to happen as the process unfolds on my "Design Process" Page for each of the design services I offer.
Do you supply trades people for my project?
I have a list of qualified contractors and trades people that I can connect you with. Depending on the size of the project, I will recommend what make the most sense for your job. I have trusted relationships with many various companies. You are also free to hire you own contractor and their selected trades if you choose. I am happy to work with the team you have selected, however I take no responsibility for their quality of work or professionalism.
What sets you apart from others in your field?
I approach all projects with a cost-conscious thoughtfulness. I also believe that you can have good design with any budget. It's so easy to spend money but the process goes beyond just going out and buying new expensive items and materials, with the expectation that if it's expensive...it will look good. Good taste is in the eye of the beholder. I celebrate incorporating cherished existing pieces you may want to incorporate as well as re-furbished, second hand and antique pieces in the design plan where it makes sense and helps with the overall design aesthetic. It's really about incorporating pieces or ideas that nurture your environment and thoughtfully introducing some new components to build on a space that is a reflection on the unique you! It's about delivering good design with any budget and making smart selections and decisions through every step of the process for the specific client or family.