Do I really need a designer?
It depends. If you are looking for expert guidance and someone to help you define or refine your style…then yes. If you feel like you have made mistakes on your own and wasted time and money…then yes. If you have a hard time establishing your goals or don’t know where to begin or how to manage a design project…then yes. If you find the idea of designing your home or office on your own very daunting…then yes. If you feel like you know what you want, but you want to have someone else simply execute and buy items for you at a discount…then no.
A key thing to understand is that we, as designers, are here to spend your money wisely. Hiring a designer should not be about getting discounts, but rather having a collaborative and professional partner who is knowledgeable and takes the time to understand your goals for your home or business. You can feel comfortable with the investment in a designer because we will help you avoid costly mistakes. Our expertise and strong relationships with quality vendors will help to ensure you receive a design solution unique to your needs. As a team, together we will make decisions about what is important for the success of your project – such as establishing a sound budget and setting goals and expectations right from our initial meetings.
I’m not really sure what look I want and I’m overwhelmed with making decisions. How can you help me?
We have developed a unique process to to get to the heart of who you are and understand the emotions behind how you see and value ‘home’. The time we spend in the beginning of the design process helps us understand the best design solutions that will suit you.
How will I know if our design styles match?
Our goal with every project is to showcase the essence of our client – be it a residential or commercial project. We have developed a proprietary and tested process that focuses on not only enhancing our client’s style, but truly designing to the way our client wants to live and feel in their home.
For our commercial clients we take an experiential approach to develop design solutions which enhance functionality and utility, but also reinforces our clients visual branding. We search for objects, art and furniture that reflect the individuality of our clients. We strive to produce high quality design solutions whether the style is modern or transitional or traditional. Look to the overall quality of the work we produce rather than a specific design style.
I want (insert style – vintage/modern /traditional/classic/transitional). What is your design style?
See “How will I know if our design styles match” above.
I have many rooms I would like to have designed, but I don’t have the time/budget/patience to do them all at once. How can you work with me?
We recommend doing the design and planning for ALL of the spaces you want to work on regardless of whether you will execute the designs at the same time. It is a far more efficient use of time to design this way because we spend a significant amount of time understanding how you want to live in your home whether you are doing one room or 20. By having a clear and complete design plan, you can schedule the work on your home based on your time and budget.
I’m not sure what my budget is. Can you help me create a realistic one?
To help you decide how much you should invest it is important to answer a few key questions, e.g., How long do you plan on staying in your home? Do you want to keep this furniture for 5 years? 10 years or longer? Would you like to have heirloom pieces to pass onto future generations? Do you want to start or add to an art collection? By answering these questions you will have a much better idea of how much to invest in any given piece of furniture or renovation.
We can provide a list of general furniture and accessory costs that can serve as a guide for your investment . The spreadsheet shows low to high costs for various items one may consider purchasing. Costs can vary greatly, but you can determine your threshold for where to invest your money.
It is a good idea to factor room for unexpected costs (this is especially true for renovation and new construction projects). We recommend setting a budget about 15% lower than what you really have to invest. It is best to be honest with your designer about what you want to spend. We do our best to make selections based on your long and short term goals.
How do you charge?
After discussing the scope of the project (goals, expectations, scheduling, etc.) we outline a plan and structure for our fees and expenses. We can charge based upon one of three payment options – a limited consultation fee, flat design fee or hourly/day fee (with some level of guidance for design time needed).
Will I get discounts on product purchases?
KCI charges a management fee on items we purchase to help ensure successful and trouble free delivery for all items needed for your project. We are able to do this without charging more than the MSRP because we have long-established relationships with vendors who provide us special pricing. Our clients are welcome to shop for and purchase any item on their own, but they accept full responsibility for those orders.
A key thing to understand is that we, as designers, are here to spend your money wisely. Hiring a designer should not be about getting discounts, but rather having a partner that is knowledgeable and who really understands your goals. You can feel comfortable with the investment in a designer because we will help you avoid costly mistakes. Our expertise and solid relationships with quality vendors will ensure you have a design solution that is unique to you. We will make decisions about what is important for the success of a project such as establishing a sound budget and setting goals and expectations from the very beginning.
Do you charge for initial consultations?
We will set up an initial meeting after you have completed our intake form which helps to assess if we are good candidates for each other. The preliminary meeting is a way for us to meet to further discuss your project so we can develop a proposal. There is no charge for that meeting. If you would like for us to talk about specific design solutions, ideas, give our thoughts on plans etc. That is considered a billable consultation service.
I’ve never hired and interior designer before. How does the process work?
We believe the key to a successful project is for us to understand the emotions of how you view and feel about ‘home’. We spend significant time in the beginning of the design process getting to understand what makes you tick and what will make you LOVE your new space. To that end we have developed a unique set of questions about where and how you have lived in the past. We delve into how you have arrived at this point and where/how you see yourself in the future. Sure, knowing if you like the color blue or red is important, but you will find the quest to know YOU is what will make you love your home. Don’t worry – it will be fun!
The BASIC process after we have been contracted to design your space is as follows:
PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT/DISCOVERY AND IMMERSION
– Client interviews, create preliminary budgets, gather assets, document existing furniture and conditions, set up design and communication strategies.
DESIGN EXPLORATION AND PLANNING
– Collaborative phase where we research and development of rough design direction, plans, furniture and concepts to vet best ideas.
DESIGN DEVELOPMENT AND PRESENTATION
– Creation of final plans, elevations, furniture/material selections and budgets.
DESIGN ADMINISTRATION, IMPLEMENTATION AND PROCUREMENT
– Development of furniture and material specifications. Turnkey management and implementation of design.
I saw on HGTV...
Let me stop you right there. HGTV does very little to show you what a real design process is like. More often than not I have seen unrealistic budgets, time-frames and expectations for what happens in the real world. Renovating an entire kitchen will cost more than $10K and will take more than a weekend and a glue gun. If you love watching design shows….great because we love enthusiastic clients! HGTV is great for inspiration, but don’t translate what you see into what to expect when we work on your home.
Who purchases furniture, accessories and materials?
KCI provides turn-key and trouble-free procurement and management of all of the items needed to bring our design to reality. We charge a management fee which is a percentage of the cost of the item plus time. We charge this way to cover not only the time it takes to write up and process every component of an order, but also to cover the oversight and liability involved with seeing an item arrive in your home/business without issue.
I want to purchase some/all of the furniture and materials. Will you work that way?
Yes. As long as you understand you are responsible for the management of the orders you place.
I don’t need all new furniture. Will you still work with me?
Of course! We will help you evaluate how to use what you currently own and assess the furniture, art and accessories that will work with the design vision. When possible, we try to integrate old with the new because that is usually a good recipe for creating a textured, interesting design. Our goal is always about making the design yours.
I just need someone to help guide me in my design choices. Will you work this way?
It sounds like you may simply need consulting services. Yes, we can work on an hourly or daily rate to review anything from existing floor plans, paint, furniture, accessories or to provide guided shopping services.
I want to do a gut rehab are you experienced with this type of work?
We have extensive experience working on everything from new construction and renovation to developing space plans and selecting furniture.
I want to do a gut rehab, but I don’t know where to start.
Begin with interviewing and selecting a good architect and contractor. We can, in most cases, recommend candidates from both fields based on your style, budget and location. We at KCI like to be involved, when possible, from the earliest part of the project. Our most successful projects had a team in place early on that collaborated without overlapping work. We love working with talented architects and knowledgeable contractors. We find it ups everyone’s game and our client’s benefit greatly.
Can you recommend a good general contractor or architect?
Yes. See “I want to do a gut rehab…” above.
I want to do a kitchen/bath renovation. Is this work you do?
Absolutely, we are happy to show you our extensive Portfolio of these very special projects.
How long does this design process take?
Size, scope and location of a project greatly impacts the time needed for design. Once we have discussed these parameters we can give you a rough estimate for the design time. Your contractor will be able to provide a timeline for actual construction.
I already have an architect. Will you work with an architecture firm you don’t know?
We love working with new professionals in our field. It is a good idea, however, to get all parties to meet as soon as possible to review roles and responsibilities. There should be a strong project manager in place as well (usually a part of the contractors team) so there is one go-to person once work has begun.
I already have an architect. Do I need a designer too?
We will start answering that questions with a few more questions! What is the scope of your project? Do you need someone to select interior materials and finishes? Does your architect have strength in selecting interior finishes and materials? Are you redesigning your kitchen or bath? If so, does your architect understand what it takes to layout a functioning kitchen or bath? Do they have experience in space planning for furniture? Do they often select furniture and materials for their projects? You may feel your architect has strengths in the design of the structure and mechanical aspects of the building, but doesn’t quite have what is needed for furniture, materials or finishes. If that is the case, then it makes sense to have both an architect and a designer.
Where do you purchase furniture and accessories?
We locate and secure items from all around the globe from furniture with a pedigree to flea market finds. Our own furniture designs are often used and are produced by craftsman in the US.
I have a second home out of state. Can you work on projects outside of Illinois?
Yes, we have worked on large and small projects nationally. By researching and developing a strong team in each location, we have successfully worked on everything from rehabs to decoration.
Can you provide references?
Yes and please contact them. They will tell you what the experience/process was like working with KCI. And…they are wonderful people in their own right and I’m sure you will enjoy talking with them!
How many clients do you work with at a time?
We are careful to select projects that are right size and scope for us and we create timelines that will ensure a successful outcome. We do not limit the amount of projects we take on rather we are mindful of the project schedule. In general, we avoid being in the design phase of more than one project at a time, but we may have multiple projects that are in the implementation phase.
Can you do design work on external structures or landscaping?
We can develop furniture plans and specifications for existing outdoor areas, but we recommend using our services in conjunction with a solid landscape architect for more extensive outdoor renovations.
What is the difference between a decorator and designer?
“Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.”
– Definition from The National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ)
What are your qualifications/background /experience?
Kelly has a degree in Interior Design from Harrington College of Design where she was trained in both residential and commercial interiors. She also has a B.A. in Journalism and Communications from Millikin University.