Practical and Affordable Ways to Outsource Your Apartment Interior Design

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How do I decorate my apartment? What are some ideas for apartment decoration? If you’ve ever thumbed through a copy of Architectural Digest, you know what professional interior designers can do with even the most challenging space. They can pull the elements of a room together, apply color with confidence and turn even vague client concepts into stunning reality.

No doubt, if you’ve drooled over websites and magazine spreads featuring fashionable penthouses, country estates and mansions by the sea, you probably think that outsourcing your apartment decoration to an interior designer is beyond your budget.
Think again.

While only a few years ago a professional decorator might have been out of the question, today the interior design industry is experiencing a radical … well, redesign. Yes, of course you can still go big and invest tens of thousands of dollars in your dream home. But that’s out of the budget for most.

There are many practical and affordable options that can make even your first studio apartment feel more like home. Here’s how:

Start By Setting Clear Guidelines
Almost everything is better—functions more smoothly and costs less—when you get yourself organized before hiring help. Ask yourself:

  • What are my priorities? Perhaps you need a color scheme for the entire apartment. Or maybe your number one challenge is pulling together the living room and selecting furniture and accessories for the space.
  • What exactly do I need? If you’re on a budget don’t be vague about what you’re looking for. For example, if you need living room furniture and accessories, don’t hire someone to “decorate the living space.”
  • Be specific. If you have a vision for the space, discuss your ideas with the designer up front.
  • How much can I spend? Once you know what’s realistic for your budget, you can limit the size of the job.

Hire By the Project
Even if you want your entire two-bedroom apartment professionally decorated, you don’t need to do everything at once. Here are a couple of ideas (with your landlord’s approval):

  • Make a wish list: Color scheme for furniture, accessories and rug selection, room dividers, a rolling island in the kitchen, etc.
  • Prioritize your list: Figure out what’s most important to start.
  • Share your vision and priorities with your designer: If you hire project-by-project as part of your bigger plan, you may get a better per-project rate. It’s worth a conversation.

Ask For a Plan
Another way you can save is to ask for a plan, and list of exact furniture selections (complete with links to the stores). Then you do the actual buying. With the plan in hand, you can stretch out the work and purchases over several months and keep the project within your budget and without running up your credit cards.

Understand the Costs Upfront
Interior design firms have different methods for charging. Some will give you a fixed cost per project. Others work on an hourly rate. If you want your decorator to select and purchase furniture for you, they may charge based on some percentage above cost, shopping time plus consultation fee, the retail list price minus a percentage, or some combination of these options.

Don’t assume. Have a clear understanding of exactly how you will be charged before committing to the work. This way you won’t be surprised and may be able to negotiate a better rate up front.

Consider Hiring an e-Design Firm
There’s a new breeze blowing through the interior design industry. The Internet is changing everything, and increasingly designers are setting up online services. Firms like Decorist and Havenly.com are taking the fear-factor out of contacting an interior designer… even for the smallest of jobs.

These e-design firms use powerful interactive tools to consult and design your space all virtually. They can assess your needs; help you select a designer on staff who matches your style, needs and budget; and give you a finished project — all without visiting your apartment. Don’t worry if you aren’t tech savvy. Anyone with a computer can use these online services.
Best of all, the Internet is enabling e-design firms to price their services more competitively. Depending on the package you select and the scope of your project, e-design firms typically can give you professional results at a price ranging from a few hundred dollars to less than $1500. And you set the parameters of the job.

No more surprises. No open-ended budgets or hidden costs. And most offer a set number of revisions, even limited guarantees. Your exact costs will vary from firm to firm and the package you select, as will the guarantee. So again, do your due diligence and make sure you fully understand what you’re buying and how much you’re paying up front.

With e-design, you’re not settling for second best. You’re selecting a designer who matches both what you want and what you can afford. Whether you have a studio, two-bedroom apartment, townhouse or single-family home, you can hire the talents of a pro.

Happy Decorating!

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