Episode 22: What Does it Cost? | Interior Design with Tiffany Edwards

Mar 21, 2023

In this episode:

Are you a homeowner looking to learn more about the costs associated with interior design services for your new home or renovation project?

Curtis sits down with interior designer, Tiffany Edwards, to discuss the costs of interior design, the design process, the questions homeowners should ask when interviewing designers for their projects, and much more. Having an experienced designer can save stress and money in the long run so tune in to learn more.

Don’t miss out on this informative and insightful episode!

About our Guest: Tiffany started her interior design career in Dallas/Fort Worth in 2004 but moved back to her hometown of Houston after three years. She worked for The Kitchen Source and Kitchen & Bath Concepts before starting her own business, Edwards Interiors and Design, in 2014. Tiffany is a Registered Interior Designer (RID) and a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD) in Texas, and she graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a degree in Interior Design and a minor in Art. Tiffany now takes on projects large and small, creating unique spaces tailored to each client. 


Guest: Tiffany Edwards, RID, CKD, ASID
Business Title: Owner & Principal Designer
Company: Edwards Interiors and Design
Website: http://www.edwardsinteriordesign.com/

Bonus: Accompanying every episode are show notes with links to guest speakers and other helpful sites mentioned in the podcast.

How to get in touch: Please let us know what questions you have and we will address those on our final episode of the season, Episode 32. You may email us at info@yourprojectshepherd.com.

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Full Transcript

Curtis:  Hey, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Your Project Shepherd Construction Podcast. I’m your host, Curtis Lawson. And as you’ve heard us say numerous times, we believe that every project should be built like the simple drawing of the house. The found the foundation is proper planning. The left wall Is your team the right walls, communication and the roof protecting. The whole thing is proper execution. Have all four of those components in place and your project will succeed. Today we are talking about interior design, and I’m joined by my friend Tiffany with Edwards Interiors and Design. So thanks for being with me today.

Tiffany:  Thank you for having me.

Curtis:  So we are again, we’re here to talk about interior design. And the second season of the podcast is what does it cost? So I want to talk some about what kind of costs should people be expecting as they’re doing interior design services for their new home or renovation project. And I know it’s hard to go into real specifics because every project is different.

Curtis:  But just in general, we wanted to talk about, you know, for for a new home, what should people be expecting. So but before we get into that, let’s start off by just talking about you and your company. Why don’t you tell everybody kind of the history of your company and what you do?

Tiffany:  Sure. So I am born and raised in Houston. My husband’s from Houston. We grew up in Alief and went to school out there. So always had a love for Houston. So I worked in Dallas for a little while for kitchen and bath design firm Move Back Here. I worked for another kitchen and bath design from that, so that’s sort of where I got my design degree started or my design experience started was more in the kitchen and bath industry sector of interior design, and then, you know, we got pregnant, had my daughter and I just realized that, you know, I really want some flexibility in my schedule. I want some time to spend with her. And I just decided, you know, I think I’m just going to take a shot and go out on my own, start my own company, do some of the similar things I’ve been doing, but get more into fabrics and furnishings and whole home and new construction and just sort of broaden my experience within the interior design world. So that’s when I started to Edwards Interiors and Designs. And we’ve been going strong since about 2014. So yeah, that’s what we do.

Curtis:  Awesome. So when people are interviewing a designer, so again, before we get into costs, let’s just talk about the design process and kind of how you all work. When people are interviewing designers for their project, what kind of questions should they be asking?

Tiffany:  Sure. So I think, you know, first and foremost, what are what type of services does an interior designer offer? There are so many, you know, avenues and, you know, pockets of interior design. And so everyone’s a little bit different. Some just focus on commercial construction, some focus on this new construction, some just do decorating. So I think it’s important to, you know, ask some of the questions about services. You know, what do you offer so that we can make sure that we’re the right fit, you know? And so as far as services, what do you charge? You know, every designer charges a little bit differently, whether it’s by the hour, by the square foot, you know, per project, you know, flat fee base. I think that’s important to ask. But also, what’s your you know, what is your design style? You know, there’s every designer has a little bit of a design style that they kind of tend to gravitate towards. So I think it’s important as a homeowner that you’re connecting with someone that has a similar design style, has some of the same tastes that you do. So I think that’s an important question to ask as well. Another good question is what’s your how does your design process work and how long does your projects normally take? Obviously, every project is a little bit different, so I think those are important to make sure, you know, how do you work? You know, what do I expect, you know, throughout the design process and how long should I expect it to take? You know, is that going to affect the timeline of the project? I think those are important things to ask as well. Yeah.

Curtis:  What is your design process? So if you were engaged to design for a whole home new construction, what is your process like?

Tiffany:  Yeah, so I like to start out with just sort of an initial visit, sort of a get to know you meeting. I like to come out to the client’s home and just kind of visit with them in their space, you know, whether it’s a new construction, maybe we’ll meet at a coffee shop or if it’s in their current home, and I just like to kind of get to know them, you know, see how they live in the space, talk to them about what their needs are, what their budget is, what they envision the space to be. And so that’s always a really good starting point to making sure that we’re going to be the right fit for each other and then from there, you know, I start with I have a questionnaire that I have my clients fill out, and then I also encourage them to look through magazine photos, articles, Pinterest, and just sort of gather a couple different ideas of what they envision the space to look like. You know, I like to ask my clients, what do you are you more traditional? Are you more contemporary? But I think those terms can be very different to everybody. And so I’m a visual person, so I love getting or encourage clients to bring in, you know, show me what contemporary means to you. You know, show me some Pinterest pictures, because that contemporary can be very different from someone else’s contemporary. So I think it’s important in that initial kind of discovery phase, research phase of the project is kind of getting that information because I think it’ll really help the project down the road. Just be more efficient. You can kind of hone in, on the design style, you can hone in on some of the things that the client likes. So, you know, after that research phase and depending on what it is, if it’s a remodel or a new construction, that next meeting, you know, it’s just sort of an initial kind of a fact finding or look, let me just present a couple of different options to you, whether it’s a mood board of some furniture pieces or if it’s a couple of different, you know, kitchen remodel plans. I don’t want to go too far in collecting all of this materials and pulling furniture without sort of getting a baseline of, okay, let’s make sure we’re in the right direction. So, for example, if I’m going to present, you know, kitchen remodel, let me let me showcase a couple of different options to you. We can move this wall in this plan, move the appliances in this plan, and let’s just kind of work through those, you know, variety of options, and then that’ll ultimately put together our final plan. So once we sort of get that plan together, whether it’s a, you know, a living room layout, whether it’s, you know, a kitchen or a bathroom layout, once that’s sort of set in stone. And we have that footprint, that that roadmap and plan that I can kind of go in and pull, you know, materials and selections and kind of pull it all together from there and yeah, that’s sort of that, you know, basic design process in a nutshell. Yeah.

Curtis:  Okay. So one thing that you mentioned a minute ago I’ll get back to is when people are interviewing designers again, there’s different kind of types of designers and skill sets. I think some, some are more geared toward just doing selections like, Hey, let’s just make these selections, and that’s all I’m offering. Whereas some are more like, again, window treatments, furnishings, more of that kind of a soft serve, the soft surfaces. So what approach do you generally take or does it really vary by client as to kind of what you offer?

Tiffany:  I think it just kind of varies by client. I love to do all of those things. And so, you know, when I’m visiting with a client and sort of that initial meeting just sort of talking about the scope of work, you know, depending on, you know, maybe they don’t want to spend, you know, 30 to 40 hours on a whole design process. Maybe they just want to hone in. Okay, I just want you to help with these materials. Everything else we can kind of take care of or, you know, when we get to that point, we can kind of evaluate from there. So I really just take it, you know, as a client-by-client approach, I don’t like to kind of box myself into this is the only thing I offer because I love to do, you know, window furnishings. But I also love to completely tear out a bathroom, so. Mm. Yeah.

Curtis:  Okay. How, how early in the process should you get involved? So again, if someone’s building a new home or they’re starting a renovation and they’re working with an architect or a builder that does design build, how early should you get involved?

Tiffany:  So for me, and I think this obviously varies between, you know, a skill set of an interior designer, but for me personally, I think it’s best when, for example, if you’re if it’s a new construction home, if you’re bringing in a designer, the best time is when your architectural plans are complete and you’ve got a builder, you know, signed up who’s put together allowances in a budget for you, I feel like that’s the best time to come in because now you have a footprint, you have a sort of a roadmap, but now you have a material allowance that you can now go shopping for to try to stay within, you know, some of those budget numbers. So when you’re picking out tile or you’re picking out flooring, you’ve got some direction on, you know, where to source, you know, some of those materials. So I think that’s important. You know, designers, we are creative people, so we would love to just go and shop at some of the higher end stuff. And that doesn’t that doesn’t work for everyone’s budget, and so for me, I like to have some kind of ground rules. Like this is where we’re starting, you know, we’re, you know, $7 a square foot for wood flooring that gives me some direction to kind of shop. I don’t need to go shop at this store. Are probably going to go stay in shop at this store. But every once in a while, I will, you know, if I see something that I feel like is a better going to be a good value for the client, but they may be a little bit about a budget all presented as an option and kind of educate them on what the differences are and, you know, let them make that choice. But that’s a time I feel is probably the best time to bring in an interior designer if you’re having them help with materials and selections. Mm hmm. There are designers that that love the architectural components of design and said they may want to be involved in the very beginning, you know, you know, with a teammate, with the architect as well. So for me, I like to kind of come in, you know, when that hard stuff is done. Yeah. In the middle from there.

Curtis:  Do you ever get involved a little bit earlier to, like, help them decide where those budgets should be? So if they’re like, or if the builder or architects like, Hey, we’re doing this bathroom, here’s the style they want, help us set these, uh, these allowances, these budgets.

Tiffany:  Yeah, every once in a while, I’ll, I’ll kind of meet with the builder and say, okay, look, we’re, we’re doing a kitchen. They want marble, you know, they don’t want quartz. So this is kind of.

Curtis:  How much you should allow for a slab or a four-square foot.

Tiffany:  You know, we want to work with this particular brand of, you know, tile. So we want to stay within, you know, $5 to $8 a square foot for this. But we want it in the kitchen. We want to do this really fabulous mosaic backsplash. So let’s plan for, you know, $30 to $40 a square foot of material just so we can get something, you know, something in there. So, yeah, I do like to come in and help out where I can in the forefront.

Curtis:  I know this again, varies by the size of the project and the client, but for again, for a new whole house custom home, you know, let’s say on average 4000, 5000 square foot custom home, how many hours of time are typically involved for you? How many hours should people be planning on spending with you?

Tiffany:  Sure. So if it’s just the kind of breaking into segment, there’s a design portion in the build portion because I do like to be involved in the build portion. Oh yeah, as well, definitely. So I would say on average, you know, if I’m coming in with an architectural plan that’s pretty set in stone, you know, we’ve got, you know, a builder set in place who’s created some allowances, you know, I would say on average like 40 to 60 hours just to kind of help some of those materials, and that’s just based on the data that I’ve collected over the past couple of projects, you know, tracking my hours, just because that’s kind of been the average. And then, you know, depending on the job site construction, what’s going on there, that might be another 20 to 30 hours depending on how much we need to be out there. So I would say, you know, overall, maybe 60 to 80 hours on average for a new construction home.

Curtis:  And you get involved with doing like cabinet elevations and drawings of all the Millwork and things like that.

Tiffany:  I do. I think because that was my you know, that was my where I kind of came into it, I just I still have this passion for millwork and cabinetry. So I really do enjoy, you know, that component of it as well with new construction is helping clients kind of detail out their storage components in the kitchen. Mudroom utility. So within that 60 to 80 hours, I think that would include, you know, that time as well.

Curtis:  Yeah. So what’s it you want to tell me? What your rate is, but what is a kind of an average you think in this market or if you if you want to tell us what’s an hourly rate that’s typical right now. And again, for people who are watching or listening, this is in January of 2023. So if you listen to this a year from now, this could be very different.

Tiffany:  Yeah, so I would say, you know, for probably anywhere between 2 to $300 an hour is kind of what I’ve seen. And I think that depends on experience. And, you know, do they have a design build firm, you know? Right. The average I’ve seen.

Curtis:  Okay. And that estimated number of hours or that rough number of hours that you said, you said that includes like, you know, doing some job site visits to kind of make sure that things are being done. Sure. Yeah. Kind of per your per your plans, too, because.

Tiffany:  Especially with electrical, you know, I like to go in and do an electrical walk with the electrician because, you know, once those walls go up in the street where it goes up, you know, you can’t really change a lot of things. And if you’ve got, you know, a specialty sconce that you wanted a particular height or if you’ve got appliances that need to be put in the right location, you know, or even, you know, electrical outlets, if we if we want a bad day in the bathroom, we want to make sure that there’s an out. So there’s I think there’s a lot of details that go through when you’re doing electrical and mechanicals, and so I think it’s important to have a designer at the jobsite at that time to kind of do that walk there and just kind of make sure, you know, that they’re following it per the plan. And then, you know, you may change it while you’re up there as well. But I figure it’s better to do it before she goes out. Yeah.

Curtis:  Well, in a lot of that, I think has to do with the kind of the quality level or the attention to detail level of the builder to if they really on top of checking your drawings, checking the, the architectural plans there, they’re more likely to get that right. Whereas if it’s a builder who’s kind of trusting their subs too much in there that they’re not verifying things, then sure, that’s a lot more on you that you’re going to have to go in and clean up, so to speak.

Tiffany:  Yeah, But it’s good to have a second set of eyes because we all get busy and, you know, with and I know that builders and contractors, they, they’ve got a lot on their plate. And so sometimes it’s nice to have a team member in there that can kind of, oh, hey, we talked about this. Oh, hey, remember we talked about this here and it’s just good to have another team member, you know, kind of look out for some of those things when you’re on the job site.

Curtis:  Yeah, definitely. We’ve talked a lot about third party inspections. So by, you know, the engineer or different consultants that can kind of come in and do inspections. And it’s not that the builder necessarily is as bad or, you know, doesn’t want to do things right. Sometimes when you’re staring at the same thing every day over and over, small things tend to kind of get missed because you’re kind of focused on one thing that you’re looking for, but when you know you as the designer or the engineer, they walk in, they’re looking for different things. And so that second, third set of eyes is essential for for putting out a good quality product.

Tiffany:  Yeah, absolutely.

Curtis:  So how about, like tile layouts? Do you typically do drawings for, you know, so you choose the tile, but do you also to do like a drawing or like, here’s how the tile should be installed?

Tiffany:  Yes, absolutely. I think, you know, it’s important to be able to communicate to whoever is installing it how it needs to be installed. So if you’re you’re picking a tile that has a pattern to it, it’s important to put, you know, is it is it a herringbone pattern? Is it a staggered joint? You know, what’s the grout material, What grout joint thickness do you want? And so especially if it’s a very intricate design, detailed tiles it with borders and liners and mosaics, I think it’s very important to be able to communicate that to whoever is going to be installing it. So usually all of my specifications all include tile details and then may not be a complete, you know, AutoCAD drawing, but it may be. Here’s a pattern that I want. Here’s the information, here’s the grout color, everything that they would need to install without having to call me to ask questions.

Curtis:  And sometimes especially on more of the complex, detailed modern houses especially, it’s really important like how do those grout joints line up with other elements that you’re doing? Like if you have a if you want your tile to layout in a certain way with a light fixture or with a cabinet or some millwork, it’s like it’s really important that that tile gets designed fully drawings and how it relates to everything else that’s going on in the room, right?

Tiffany:  Yep. Absolutely.

Curtis:  Yeah. So, um, I think also paying for your time as a designer to go in and do some of these things and also paying early on to work out some of these details is going to save the client money or save them time or hassle in the long, run right.

Tiffany:  Yeah, no, I agree. I agree. There’s, you know, there’s so many websites, sites and social media apps and, you know, TV shows and we’re just kind of always bombarded with products and materials and trends and design styles through, you know, all of these outlets. I think it can become very overwhelming. You know, even for my own home, I get a little overwhelmed on what I want to do in this space. and so I think with bring on interior designers, someone that can, you know, understand and get to know what your needs are, what your style is, and take that and just be able to kind of narrow down a bit here. You know, we’ve got 20 different options that we can choose from, but I think these three options are going to be the best for you because they’re within your budget, they’re the style that you like and they’re maintenance friendly or whatnot, and so I think bringing on a designer to help narrow down the plethora of options that are out there will save you time and money and get you a really good design.

Curtis:  Yeah, we’ve talked before about how especially with, um, you know, social media, Instagram, Pinterest, all these things, people see all these amazing things and they’re like, Oh, I can figure that out of my app and I can figure that out on my own. I can choose that on my own. I don’t really need to pay for these hours for somebody else to do it for me. What’s the danger in that? Like, why shouldn’t people just try to do it themselves?

Tiffany:  So some of the I guess the biggest hurdles or the issues I’ve seen with that is, you know, they see a light fixture that they love, for example, but it may not be the right size like let’s say they see a light fixture for over their island, you know, but it may not they see it in a, you know, a TikTok video or, you know, online and they see the dimensions, but they may not understand the scale that that needs to be proportionate With that, it’s.

Curtis:  In someone else’s house, different ceiling heights, different room size, different table size.

Tiffany:  Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, we take those we don’t just only take the the look and the beauty of a product, but we also take the, you know, the scale, the dimension. Is it appropriate for your home, for your lifestyle? So we take all of that into consideration with helping you make choices. And so sometimes, you know, even like in the living room, you know, you see a great sofa, but you’re not sure it’s going to fit with this other, you know, recliner that you’ve got in that space, and, you know, you just buy it. You don’t know if it’s going to fit. Well, a designer can come in and measure it and make sure it’s a scale. Make sure you’ve got your, you know, proper clearances, proper walk space. And so I think that’s the benefit of bringing someone in versus, you know, always just, you know, doing it yourself.

Curtis:  And I think also certain fixtures, people may not realize all the components that they have to order it. Oh, yeah. It’s like if you just try to order something on yourself, you may not know, hey, that plumbing fixture also needs this, this and this to go with it. So you can’t just buy something off of Bill.com or whatever on your own. You kind of need to have some expertise and experience and the right application for each fixture and kind of what else goes with it.

Tiffany:  Yeah, absolutely.

Curtis:  Yeah. So, you know, having a good designer, just, just like having a good build or having a good designer is going to it. It’s going to cost you something upfront.

Tiffany:  Correct. Yeah.

Curtis:  But long run in the long run it’s going to set your project up for success and you know, that’s what we want. That’s the whole point of this, this podcast, this show is to talk about setting your project up for success and minimizing your stress through the process. So I mean, to me, that’s really the the other thing that people don’t think about is when they’re trying to manage their own busy life and their career and their family and everything else that they have to do. Do they really want to spend all their time doing what you do, right?

Tiffany:  Yeah. No, no, most, most don’t. Because there’s so much, you know, you just have to shut that part of your brain off and work on that. And it, it can be very difficult when you’ve got a, you know, business to read or you’ve got a job, you’ve got a family to maintain. And so it’s just one little added layer of stress that sometimes I think a lot of clients enjoy and respect having someone on their team to kind of take some of that burden off of them.

Curtis:  Yeah, what I asked this question a lot in our in our first season. I haven’t done it in the season yet, though, but this is a good question for this discussion. What kind of person is maybe like the wrong person to go through this process of building a home or remodeling a home? Is there is there is their certain personality type that is not always the best fit for this?

Tiffany:  You know, especially with new construction and when you’re when you’re hiring and professionals to help you, you know, makes decisions, and makes selections is trust. You’ve got to have a client that can trust your knowledge, your expertise, because when you have a client that’s continually questioning, okay, well, you know, you’ve picked this, but my friend said, I need to do this, or my cousin said, I need to do this, and when they continue to question your recommendations, I think that makes it very challenging and very difficult. So those are some things, you know, that I look for upfront is, you know, are we going to be able to work together? Do you trust me? And, you know, some clients do, some clients don’t. You know, I think that’s what’s important about that kind of initial visit. But I think trust is a really big key factor, especially when is a new construction home because there’s so many moving parts and pieces and so many decisions down to, you know, the hardware, the doorstop that goes, you know, you know, what do I do with this? And so, you know, it may seem easy upfront to to build a home, but there’s so many little choices along the way that I think trust is really important.

Curtis:  You know, people forget about all the little, small things that have to be chosen. It’s not like there’s 40 decisions to be made. There are 400 or more decisions to be made on a house. And a lot of those are not things that as part of your money that you think about the faucets, you think about the tile and the countertops, but you don’t think about the.

Tiffany:  Doorstops.

Curtis:  Or the hinges, the color of the hinges and the.

Tiffany:  Yeah. Or, you know, even with windows, you know, sound a big windows. Well, you know, do you want aluminum? Do you want wood? Do you want steel? And do you want what color do you want? Do you want it white on the outside, white on the exterior. But so there’s so many little choices within, you know, windows, doors, you know, kind of these subcategories that can just be really kind of overwhelming.

Curtis:  Yeah. If you’ve never done that before, you know, it’s like death by a thousand paper cuts. It’s like, man, it’s like another decision that I have to make in this. And I think, you know, you mentioned trust a second ago. The problem with the HGTV is and the Pinterest’s and and all that kind of stuff is everybody’s an expert.

Tiffany:  Sure.

Curtis:  And I think especially when it comes to interior design, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, oh, you know, my sister does this, quote unquote. And your sister may be good at picking out some pillows and some paint colors, but that doesn’t make her an interior designer. That doesn’t mean she’s qualified to do this. It doesn’t mean that she’s, you know, dumb. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have style. But it it means that she’s not trained to do this. She doesn’t have the experience to do this. Right. And so a professional designer is going to have that skill set to make all those little mini decisions that have to be made.

Tiffany:  Right, Right, right. And I think some of it comes down to, you know, also safety is also really important to, you know, within, you know, a bathroom. You know, you don’t want to pick, you know, marble is gorgeous. You know, it’s a timeless material. There’s obviously some maintenance and upkeep to it, but it’s a slippery surface. And I think it’s, you know, you know, for me, I think function is very important over, you know, the way something looks. So when I’m specifying something for a client, you know, I’m always going to look at function for. So I love the look of marble. I think it’s beautiful if you’re you know, can are up for maintaining it, that’s great. But it’s a slippery surface, especially in a big format. And while it may look beautiful in a bathroom, it’s just it’s not safe to have it in there, you know, when it’s a polished surface. So those are some things I think, that are important when hiring a designer is, yes, we can anybody can make something look good. But I think you’ve got to look at the function of the materials that you’re picking out and is it safe? Is it going to work for your lifestyle? And not everyone has that set of skills.

Curtis:  Yeah. I mean knowing, yeah, knowing kind of the alternatives to So they want marble, they want that look. Well here’s four different porcelain products that look like marble that aren’t going to be a slippery right that are easier to maintain, that you’re not going to have to reseal and worry about staining when you spill your bright blue shower gel on it and it soaks into the pores of the marble.

Curtis:  So it’s understanding how all the materials kind of interact and how they wear and you know, what goes into that.


Right, Right.

Curtis:  So what I think that’s going to wrap up are interior design discussion for today. Okay. I appreciate you being on the show with us for.

Tiffany:  Thank you for having me and I appreciate it.

Curtis:  Yeah. Thank you. And tell everybody if they want to work with you, how they find you, your website, social media, all that stuff. Yeah.

Tiffany:  So this is a mouthful, but it’s so my website is Edward’s interior design dot com and I think my Instagram handle is Edward’s underscore interior underscore design something like that.

Curtis:  It’s okay. We will be sure to link that on our show notes that we post at the end of the at the end of this podcast or that they’re in the description. So we’ll link your website and your social media and all that kind of stuff.

Tiffany:  We have an office out in Katy, just a little office space, not typically a showroom, but we’re, you know, have meetings over there and we’re kind of in the I-10 99 corridors where we’re located.

Curtis:  And do you service all of Houston? You kind of focus on West Houston. What’s your service area?

Tiffany:  Pretty much, you know, obviously Katy Cypress, Sugarland, Fort Bend area, but also Houston, mostly west of downtown, is typically kind of where we do most of our work Belair, Bunker Hill, Spring Branch Memorial, places like that. Yeah. So kind of West of downtown that we service.

Curtis:  What they do is fabulous work. I am always looking at their stuff on Instagram. And so if you want to get interior designer, definitely give Tiffany a call if you’re in the eastern area and thanks for joining us on another episode of the Your Project Shepherd Podcast.