Decorating FAQs: Do You Make Money on What We Buy, or Who We Hire?

Working with a Decorator can be fun, flexible and save you some bucks as well.

FAQs is a series that gives quick and simple answers to the questions I hear the most often (click here to read others)

Love this question. In my years of retail, lack of transparency in the cost structure of working with a private Decorator was the #1 complaint I heard from my clients. In creating my own business, having a simple compensation structure was a must.

There is nothing inherently wrong, or even remotely suspect about being paid by sales commissions or bonuses, but knowing they were paying for a markup on purchases, in addition to a presumably fair rate rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. It's understood no one works for free...but no one wants to feel like a chump, either.

(Some Decorators function in more of a GC position. They hire, schedule, obtain product. You pay the contractors through this person, and this person is paid for that service. That is another topic, for another post.)

So the answer is no. This Westchester County Interior Decorator gets paid only for time,  and rentals on art, lighting, linens and other accessories we inventory.  Because my position is one of advocacy, any referrals or recommendations are made solely for the client's best interest. The homeowner chooses who they work with, all contracts are between homeowner and vendor, and homeowner pays all contracts directly. And no  bonuses, incentives, or commissions are sought, or accepted from vendors.


Many major retailers have moved to embrace outside decorators, and now have incentive/loyalty programs; vendors and trades often  offer a professional discount as well. One of the things that makes The Refreshed Home really special, is that whatever pricing discounts are extended to me get passed on directly to my clients, in the form of a lower price.

Recently I saved one client 15% off about $2,500 worth of furniture she bought to stage her vacant condo. Instead of renting, she decided to buy things she liked herself, for after it sold. She also got a few hundred dollars in bonus gift cards from a program they were having at the time...but turns out she didn't get to keep the furniture-instead, the new buyer loved it and bought it from her!

Another client had picked out a leather sofa from a major lifestyle store, it was just under $3,000. He knew he wanted "brown", but they had lots of browns, and different types of leather. He wanted my advice on which leather, and then a paint color to go with it.

We nailed it in about 30 minutes; and even after paying me, he still netted about $200 in savings working through me.

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