1. How do you charge for your services?
Answer: When we meet with you, our first concern is making sure we understand why you want to do your project, and what you have envisioned. We take time to evaluate your wish list and priorities, and then, based on what you want and need, we develop a Value Based Fee proposal that fits your needs and desires. Our clients have found that they love this model because they decide up front exactly how much they’re comfortable investing, and know that the project will not exceed that amount, unless they decide to change the scope of work.
2. Why is it so expensive to hire interior designers?
Answer: When clients come to us, they typically want their project designed and customized to their taste, preferences and timeline. Often, they attempt to do their own work, and have spent hours and hours struggling to make decisions. It looks so easy on HGTV (not real), and there are so many options you can purchase online. Sometimes our clients make mistakes and the result is not what they expected, and the mistakes are costly. Even buying the wrong scale of sofa could cost thousands of dollars, or choosing the wrong material could result in having to repurchase item sooner than planned. Many of our clients have even made the classic NYC mistake of purchasing items that won't fit into their elevator or through their front door!
Most of our clients are busy professionals who hire us because they don’t have the ability, time or desire to do it themselves, or they’ve tried to do it themselves and quickly realized that even something as seemingly simple as paint selection proved to be a difficult and time-consuming task, with multiple trips to the paint store because they couldn’t find the right shade. They don’t want to go through the time, aggravation and expense of trial and error, with no guarantee that they’ll love what they created.
When clients hire Kati Curtis Design, they get peace of mind knowing that over 20 years of experience and expertise will translate into the space of their dreams for many years to come. As one of our clients recently said her new space is a ‘gift that rewards her each day’. The value to her is priceless, and that’s what we strive for with each client.
3. My brother is a contractor, can he do the work for us?
Answer: We're happy to work with contractors, friends and family of yours. However, we always act as your advocate and on your behalf, so if we can offer some other contractors to get competitive bids we will suggest that. As a rule of thumb, we always like to get at least 3 bids on a project, and interview all of the bidders personally so we can help you make the best decision when hiring someone to create your dream space and also to protect one of your biggest investments.
4. Can you help us figure out a budget for our project?
Answer: Absolutely. Once we begin the design process we create a spreadsheet with all of the items that we see will be needed for the project. We have also been working in NYC for many years and have a good sense of construction costs. Please see our post on renovation costs that can serve as a guide for coming up with your budget. Another great method of figuring a budget in NYC is to plan around 18% of the value of your home. Because of the price of real estate in NYC, increase this budget to 25-40% if you're in the burbs, or have a larger place.
5. How long will my project take?
Answer: With our extensive experience with similar projects, we can know fairly accurately how long each phase of a project will take because we've done it so many times before. One of the reasons why we're so accurate is that we have a tried and tested team of vendors, subcontractors and contractors that know exactly what we expect and are extremely conscious of customer service, deadlines and quality. Your result is priority, expedited services, an accurate budget and your job getting done on time with the least amount of disruption.
First of all, what is being renovated? Are you doing a gut renovation? A partial? Just a bathroom? Are you saying “renovation” but really mean “decoration?”
Here are some guidelines that may help (all time frames are estimated):
Furniture, window treatments or wall coverings: most take a minimum of 4-6 weeks to order. Custom work and foreign ordering can take up to 20 weeks. If you want to choose your own fabrics, add 2-4 weeks to allow yourself or your designer to shop, help you make your selections and arrange for materials to be forwarded to the manufacturing firm.
Custom closets or built-ins: From design to installation, approximately 2-8 months, depending on your choices. (we're not talking California Closets here)
Bathroom Renovation: From schematic design to hanging your towels, approximately 8-12 weeks including design time. Actual time for demolition and construction, approximately 4-6 weeks.
Kitchen Renovation: From design to putting your dishes away, up to 20 weeks. Actual time for demolition and construction, approximately 4-6 weeks.
Refresh your studio or one-bedroom apartment: (no heavy construction, some furniture, possibly some built-ins), approximately 3-9 months, depending on your choices
Gut Renovate your studio or one-bedroom apartment: (new walls, new kitchen and bath,electrical work, some or all new furniture) approximately 5-9 months
Refresh your four-bedroom apartment: (no major construction, some furniture, possibly some built-ins or a bathroom upgrade), approximately 5-12 months
Gut Renovate your four-bedroom apartment: (new walls, new kitchen and bath rooms, electrical work, all new furniture), approximately 9-18 months, depending on your choices
6. How do I know my project won't get out of control?
Answer: This is a common problem with many designers and in the industry in general, so your concerns are justified. Because we know most clients have this concern, I’ve put controls in place relative to how we deliver projects to prevent project overruns. And the ones that went over were due to our clients expanding the scope of work.
Some of the controls include an online project management program which our clients can view 24/7 to see the exact status of the project at all times. When decisions need to be made with your input, you are immediately notified via email and your answers are documented. This eliminates unnecessary phone calls that can waste time and result in miscommunications. A recent Upper East side client of ours loved this program because they could login online after work to monitor the project status and address any questions or responses we needed to keep the project on schedule. They could also see the budget status, too, which helped them feel in control and comfortable with their investment.
7. Why do things take so long to get? I can get things at Crate and Barrel delivered within a couple of days.
Answer: We understand it can seem like a long time to get items in that we design for you. Our specialty is a custom-crafted, one-of-a-kind experience that's made to order for your space. I promise you, when you see the workmanship; it will be worth the wait. Our clients pride themselves on the fact that their space isn't one that could be copied or that anyone else has, but was uniquely designed for them. One of our client in the Hamptons recently shared with us that the thing she valued the most about her home was that was "hers"- That it uniquely reflects her taste and style and her friends don't have "all of the same things" she does.
8. Do you do small projects?
Answer: At Nirmada we have a specialized team including architects, designers, craftspeople, drafters, vendors and administrative staff. Our specialty is high-end, "turn key" design from the architecture to the pillows on the sofa. Our true value is best expressed on full service, "never lift a finger" design and renovation projects.
A recent client of ours hired us to design a home for them in the Hamptons. Over the course of the design project we removed the roof and added a deck with a hot tub, gutted the entire interior adding new insulation and electrical, reconfigured the master bedroom and bath, added hurricane-proof windows, new fireplaces window treatments, art and accessories down to the plates on the dining room table. The clients showed up on July 15th with only their suitcases and were ready to move right in with their two young children. The fact that they didn't have to lift a finger allowed them to enjoy a stress free summer in their new, custom crafted home.
9. Will you meet with us on evenings and weekends?
Answer: We understand that sometimes it's easier for you to meet outside of work hours. However, we have families, friends and a life outside of the office too, so occasionally we will meet you on evenings and weekends, but do charge a "time and a half" rate for this. I am happy to meet you at your office during your lunch hour or over Skype or teleconference if that works better for you. Many of our clients are not in the US, so we understand that you may need to meet with us at unusual times.
10. Are your fees negotiable?
Answer: No, but we can certainly modify the scope of services we will provide for you. We know our costs of doing business and to give you the best possible service we include a reasonable profit in our fees. We're business people who provide design services, and we want to give you the best possible client experience which requires that we have a profitable business.