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Interior design consultations

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Updated on:
May 2, 2023
May 2, 2023
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Interior design consultations play a crucial role in the success of any interior design project. They offer you an opportunity to understand the needs and preferences of your clients more clearly. However, the type of consultation required for each project can vary significantly depending on the scope, budget, and timeline.

In this ultimate guide to interior design consultations, we'll discuss the different types of consultations that freelance and small-scale interior designers and businesses can offer to their clients. By understanding the different options available, you can tailor your services to meet the specific needs of your clients and provide a truly customized design experience.


Interior design consultations are an essential component of the design process. They allow designers to understand their client's needs and desires. They also establish a working relationship. The consultation is typically the first step in a multi-stage process. As a whole, the process includes design concept development, material selection, and project management.

An interior design consultation is a meeting between the designer and the client to discuss the scope of the project, goals, budget, and timeline. You may also gather information about the space during the consultation and take measurements and photographs. This information is used to create a design plan that reflects the client's vision.

Before choosing an interior design consultation, several factors should be considered. For example, you should understand your niche and provide value. Furthermore, clients need to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of consultants to figure out the perfect service provider for them.

When it comes to software, many are available for interior designers. For instance, Bonsai offers a full-fledged interior design partner that helps you manage clients and saves time and cost. From customer relationship managers to form templates, you can integrate Bonsai into your practice. However, the question remains. Where would you use it?

There are many types of interior design consultations, including virtual, in-person, and comprehensive design consultations. In this ultimate guide to interior design consultations, we rounded off 17 of the most important. Providing these consultation options is a sure way to increase your quantity and quality of clients.

In-Person Consultations

In an in-person consultation, the designer meets with the client in person, typically at the project site. This type of consultation allows you to assess the space and gather information that may not be available through virtual or phone consultations.

During an in-person consultation, you will likely walk through the space with the client, discuss the scope of the project, and take measurements and photographs. You may also discuss the client's design preferences and budget and provide recommendations for materials and finishes.

While no specific software is required for in-person consultations, you may use tools such as floor plans, design software, or material samples to present design ideas to the client. You can even use certain software to simulate the finished result at the location to show the client what they can expect.

One of the primary benefits of in-person consultations is that they allow you to assess the space fully. They also allow you to understand the client's needs and preferences. This can lead to more personalized and accurate design recommendations. In-person consultations also allow the client to ask questions and provide real-time feedback.

However, there are also drawbacks to in-person consultations. They can be more time-consuming and may require additional travel or coordination. In-person consultations may also be more expensive than virtual consultations due to travel costs and time.

The cost of in-person consultations can vary depending on the scope of the project and the designer's experience and expertise. Some designers may charge a flat fee for the consultation, while others may charge an hourly rate. The consultation cost may also be applied toward the project's overall cost if the client decides to proceed with the designer.

Virtual Consultations

Virtual consultations involve you and your client communicating remotely using video conferencing software. This type of consultation can be conducted from anywhere worldwide and offers a convenient and flexible option for both designers and clients.

During a virtual consultation, you and your client will typically discuss the project's scope, their needs and preferences, and the budget. You may also ask for photos or a video tour of the space to understand the project requirements better.

You can use video conferencing software such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet to conduct virtual consultations. These platforms allow you to communicate with clients in real time. You can even share screens to present design ideas and collaborate on design concepts.

One of the main benefits of virtual consultations is that they are convenient and flexible. They allow you to work with clients from anywhere in the world without traveling. Virtual consultations are more cost-effective than in-person consultations since no travel costs are involved.

However, there are also drawbacks to virtual consultations. It can be challenging to assess the space without a physical walkthrough fully. There may be limitations to the amount of detail conveyed through video. Additionally, technical difficulties can sometimes interfere with smoothly communicating ideas and concepts.

The cost of virtual consultations can vary depending on the scope of the project and the designer's experience and expertise. You can charge hourly or a flat fee. The consultation cost may also be applied toward the project's overall cost if the client decides to proceed with the designer. Ultimately this consultation style offers flexibility and versatility.

Full-Service Design Consultations

Full-service design consultations are a comprehensive interior design service providing end-to-end support to clients throughout the design process. This type of consultation is ideal for clients who want a complete design overhaul or are starting a project from scratch.

During a full-service design consultation, you will likely work closely with the client to determine their design preferences, budget, and project goals. You will have to create a detailed design plan, including floor plans, material selection, and color schemes. You will also have to oversee the entire design process and settle any disputes.

To provide full-service design consultations, you can use business software. These can include project management, accounting, and design software to manage the various aspects of the project. Bonsai's CRM capabilities are also quite useful in this regard. Not only will this allow for healthy and open communication, but it will also keep each project on track.

One of the main benefits of full-service design consultations is that they provide a complete design solution for clients. This type of consultation allows clients to sit back and relax while you take care of all the details. Full-service design consultations ensure the project stays on track and within budget. Overall, this results in a cohesive and professional design.

However, there are also drawbacks to full-service design consultations. They can be more expensive than other types of consultations. This is due to the comprehensive nature of the service. Clients may also have limited control over the design process as the designer manages the project. This may keep them averse to opting for this system of consultation.

The cost of full-service design consultations can vary widely depending on the scope of the project, your experience, and the location. Some designers charge a flat fee, while others charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the project budget. Overall, full-service design consultations offer a comprehensive and professional design solution. As such, they can be priced in different packages based on the needs and requirements of your clients.

Room-by-Room Design Consultations

Room-by-room design consultations focus on designing one room at a time. This type of consultation is ideal for clients who want to update a single room or need help with a specific design challenge.

During a room-by-room design consultation, you must work with the client to determine their design for a specific room. You will then create a detailed design plan for the room and consider all the specifics. You may also provide furniture and decor recommendations to complete the room's look.

To provide room-by-room design consultations, you may use design software to create visual representations of the design plan and communicate ideas to your clients. AR technology can also be a good step towards integrating technology into your business practice.

Offering room-by-room design consultations can benefit you greatly. You may gain lifetime value by allowing you to take on smaller projects and build relationships with clients. They may eventually require full services in the future as well. Room-by-room consultations also allow you to specialize in certain areas of design and build a strong portfolio in a specific niche.

However, room-by-room consultation can have disadvantages as well. For instance, the lack of a cohesive vision can make the individual aesthetics look different and disjointed. Furthermore, these consultations can challenge your competencies since they require separate visions for each room.

The cost of room-by-room design consultations can vary widely. Your experience, location, client goals, and number of rooms all play a role. Likewise, you can charge by the hour or have a flat fee associated with the process. The consultation cost may also be applied toward the project's overall cost if the client decides to proceed with the designer.

DIY Consultations

DIY consultations are an interior design service that provides clients with design advice and guidance to complete the project themselves. This type of consultation is ideal for clients who want to take a more hands-on approach to their project or have a limited budget.

During a DIY consultation, you must provide your client with expert advice and recommendations for their project. These can include design ideas, material selection, color schemes, and furniture arrangement. You might also need to guide project management, such as timelines and budgeting.

The scope of this service depends on the needs of the client. Some clients may only require a one-time consultation to start their projects. In contrast, others may require ongoing support throughout the design process.

The main benefit of DIY consultations is that they offer clients a more affordable option for interior design services. DIY consultations also allow clients to take a more hands-on approach to their projects and develop their own design skills.

The cost of DIY consultations can vary based on the project's involvement. The consultation cost is typically lower than other consultations since the client is responsible for completing the project themselves. As such, the consultation is often priced at a flat fee.

E-Design Consultations

E-design consultations are also known as virtual interior design services. These are a type of consultations that take place entirely online. This service is ideal for clients who cannot meet with you in person or prefer the convenience of online consultation.

During an e-design consultation, you and your client communicate via email or video conference to discuss the client's project. The client provides room dimensions, photos, and design goals. You can create a design plan that incorporates their goals and vision. It would be best if you also guided them on additional services, timelines, and project budgets.

E-design consultations are still popular today because they offer clients the convenience of receiving professional design advice from the comfort of their own homes. Furthermore, since the popularity of networking and remote meetings has increased, this consultation is more common than ever.

The main benefits of e-design consultations are convenience and cost-effectiveness. Clients can communicate with the designer at their own pace and on their own schedule. This makes it easy to fit the interior design into their busy lives. E-design consultations are also more affordable than traditional in-person consultations since the travel costs are saved.

The main drawback of e-design consultations is that it may be difficult to visualize the final design without seeing physical samples or swatches. This can lead to misunderstandings and disappointment if the final design does not meet the client's expectations.

The cost of e-design consultations is typically lesser than most consultations. The costs can vary. However, the project details should dictate the costs.

Color Consultations

Color consultations are a specific type of interior design consultation focusing solely on choosing the right colors for a space. A color consultation aims to create a cohesive and harmonious color scheme that reflects the client's personality and preferences.

During a color consultation, you and your client discuss the desired mood and atmosphere of the space, the client's taste, and any existing furnishings or decor. You then have to create a color palette that includes paint colors, fabrics, and other materials to be used in the space.

Pantone color can be an essential tool in color consultations. That's because they provide a standardized color language that allows designers and clients to communicate more effectively. Pantone color swatches can be used to match paint colors, fabrics, and other materials accurately.

Mood boards can also be a useful tool in color consultations. A mood board is a visual representation of the color scheme, including samples of the materials and colors used in the space. Mood boards can help clients visualize the final design and ensure that everyone is on the same page before any work begins. You can use Bonsai to send mood boards to clients.

The benefits of color consultations include creating a specific and unique vision. It can also save time and money by avoiding costly mistakes when choosing the wrong colors. The main drawback of color consultations is that they may not address other design issues, such as layout or furniture selection.

The cost of color consultations can vary depending on your experience and the project's scope. Some designers may charge a flat fee for the consultation, while others may charge an hourly rate. A color consultation is usually less expensive than a full-service design consultation since it only focuses on choosing the right colors for the space.

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Furniture Consultations

Furniture consultations are interior design consultations that focus specifically on selecting and arranging furniture in a space. A furniture consultation aims to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing arrangement of furniture that meets the client's needs and preferences.

During a furniture consultation, you and your client discuss the purpose of the space and the client's lifestyle and needs. You can then create a layout plan and select furniture pieces that fit the space and the client's requirements.

Software such as CAD and SketchUp can help create 2D and 3D models of the space and furniture layouts. These can help the client visualize the final design. Furthermore, they also allow your clients to make changes and amend the design to suit their needs.

Furniture can be procured from various sources, such as furniture stores, online retailers, or custom furniture makers. You may also recommend specific furniture pieces that fit the client's style and budget.

The cost of furniture consultations can vary depending on the extent of the project. The cost of furniture pieces themselves can also vary greatly, depending on the quality and materials used. As such, the final price should be the cost of materials plus a decent margin of profit.

Lighting Consultations

Lighting consultations are interior design consultations that focus specifically on selecting and placing lighting fixtures in a space. A lighting consultation aims to create a functional and visually appealing lighting plan that meets the client's needs and preferences.

Business software such as CAD and lighting design software can help create lighting plans and mockups of the space. Mockups of the lighting plan can be created using software or physical models to give the client a visual representation of how the lighting will look in the space.

During a lighting consultation, you and your client discuss the purpose of the space and the client's lighting needs and preferences. You can then create a lighting plan that includes the placement of lighting fixtures, the type of bulbs to be used, and the overall lighting scheme.

Lighting consultations allow for creating a functional and visually appealing lighting plan that enhances the space's overall design. It also improves the space's functionality and safety by ensuring adequate lighting.

However, the drawbacks of lighting consultations may include the cost of lighting fixtures and the complexity of the installation process. Furthermore, the initial idea may vary from the final result since there are many variables when it comes to lighting.

The cost of lighting consultations can vary depending on a lot of factors. For instance, the time is of great importance. The cost of lighting fixtures can also vary greatly, depending on the type and quality of the fixture.

Space Planning Consultations

Space planning consultations are interior design consultations that focus on a space's layout and organization. A space planning consultation aims to create an efficient and functional layout that meets the client's needs and maximizes the use of available space.

During a space planning consultation, you and your client discuss the purpose of the space. You must address the client's lifestyle, habits, and any specific needs or requirements. You can then create a space plan that includes furniture placement and other elements, such as storage solutions and traffic flow patterns.

To prepare clients for space planning consultations, it is helpful to provide them with a questionnaire or survey. It should ask about their lifestyle, preferences, and specific needs for the space. This can help you better understand your client's requirements and create a customized plan that meets their needs.

The cost of space planning consultations should depend on the project, while flat fees are also acceptable. The cost of any furniture or storage solutions recommended by the designer should also be factored into the overall cost.

Remodeling Consultations

Remodeling consultations specifically focus on home remodeling projects. These consultations typically involve meeting with clients to discuss their goals and vision for their remodeling project. They might also involve providing recommendations and advice on achieving their desired results.

During a remodeling consultation, you may review the existing layout, suggest changes or improvements, recommend materials and finishes, and guide budgeting and scheduling. You may also collaborate with architects, contractors, and other professionals to ensure the project is executed successfully.

CAD and design software can be useful during a remodeling consultation. They can help you create and share visual concepts and plans with your client. Additionally, you may work with project management software such as Bonsai to keep track of budgets, timelines, and communications with clients and other professionals.

Whether or not an architect is needed during a remodeling consultation will depend on the scope and complexity of the project. If major structural changes are planned, or the project requires permits and approvals from local government agencies, an architect may be necessary to ensure that the design meets building codes and regulations.

The cost of a remodeling consultation can vary widely depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the project, your expertise, and the project's location. It would be best to be transparent about your pricing structure and clearly communicate with clients about what services are included in the consultation fee.

Sustainable Design Consultations

Sustainable design consultations focus on creating environmentally friendly and sustainable interior design solutions. It aims to reduce the negative impact of interior design on the environment while still creating beautiful and functional spaces.

During a sustainable design consultation, you must work with the client to find eco-friendly materials and products to use in the design. You will also have to look for ways to incorporate energy-efficient solutions such as smart home technology and solar power.

LEEDs (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards can be used during sustainable design consultations. They can guide the process and ensure the design meets environmental performance benchmarks. However, using LEEDs standards is not mandatory for sustainable design consultations.

Scheduling software can manage sustainable design consultations and ensure that appointments and meetings are scheduled efficiently. Using Bonsai can be a great decision as it allows you to make and modify appointments on the fly. This flexibility can make your interior design business more efficient and effective.

The benefits of sustainable design consultations include reducing the carbon footprint of interior design. This creates healthier indoor environments and reduces long-term energy costs for the client. The drawbacks may include higher upfront costs for eco-friendly materials and products and a limited selection of sustainable options in some areas.

The cost of sustainable design consultations can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project, as well as the expertise and experience of the designer. However, sustainable design consultations may be more expensive than traditional interior design services. This is due to the added effort and research in finding sustainable and eco-friendly solutions.

Home Staging Consultation

Home staging consultations involve working with homeowners or real estate agents to prepare a home for sale on the real estate market. The goal is to make the home look its best and appeal to potential buyers.

During the consultation, you will evaluate the property and offer suggestions for improvements such as decluttering, depersonalizing, and repositioning furniture. The service may also involve adding or replacing decor and furnishings to make the home more attractive to potential buyers.

Working with a real estate professional for home staging consultations can be extremely helpful. It can offer insights into what buyers look for in a home and the current market trends. However, it is not always necessary to work with professionals. Nothing is stopping you if you have adequate experience to satisfy the client.

The benefits of home staging consultations include potentially selling the home faster and for a higher price. It can also help to make the home stand out among other properties on the market. The main drawback is the high cost of hiring a designer, which is often considered a worthwhile investment.

The cost of home staging consultations can be quite expensive. Their prices can vary depending on the area of the project. Furthermore, this service is more expensive than most other consultations since it requires increased experience and research acumen.

Having a home staging lookbook can be helpful as it can show potential clients examples of your work and give them an idea of what to expect during the consultation process. It can also serve as a marketing tool to showcase your expertise in the field.

Art and Decor Consultations

Art and decor consultations focus solely on selecting and placing art and decor pieces in a space. These consultations can be offered as standalone services or as part of a larger interior design package.

During an art and decor consultation, you will work with clients to understand their style, preferences, and aesthetic aspirations. You will also have to consider factors such as the size and shape of the room, the existing color palette, and the overall ambiance of the space.

To prepare for an art and decor consultation, you may bring sample artwork or decor pieces to help the client visualize different options.

Additionally, you may also send an art and decor questionnaire beforehand to help gather information about the client's preferences and any existing pieces they may want to incorporate into the design.

The cost of art and decor consultations can vary. However, since the scope is limited, the cost is reduced. Furthermore, the cost of the consultation may include any expenses for sourcing or purchasing artwork or decor pieces.

Luxury Design Consultations

Luxury design consultations cater to high-end clients with specific tastes and preferences in interior design. These clients may have more lavish budgets and expect higher quality and attention to detail in their design projects.

An example of a luxury design consultation could involve working on a high-end residential property or a luxury commercial space such as a boutique hotel or restaurant. During the consultation, you would need to provide customized design solutions and personalized recommendations that align with the client's unique needs and vision.

When working with luxury clients, showcasing high-end brands that align with their tastes and preferences is essential. You should have a deep understanding of luxury brands and products, including furniture, lighting, and materials, and be able to make recommendations that reflect the client's style and preferences.

Several types of software can be useful for luxury design consultations, including high-end 3D rendering software, project management tools, and virtual collaboration platforms. Bonsai's customer management software ensures constant updates so your clients don't have to wait.

The benefits of luxury design consultations include opportunities of working with high-end clients and creating unique and personalized design solutions. Luxury projects also often come with higher budgets, allowing for more investment in high-end materials and design features.

However, the drawbacks of luxury design consultations include the potential for higher stress and pressure due to the high stakes and client expectations. Furthermore, the need for a higher level of attention to detail and quality is also a source of stress for many.

The cost of luxury design consultations can vary significantly depending on the project's complexity, the level of customization, and your experience and reputation. Prices for luxury design consultations can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands or more, depending on the project's size and complexity.

Design Consultations for Special Needs

Design consultations for special needs involve creating interior spaces that meet the unique requirements of individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities, elderly individuals, or those with other special needs. These consultations aim to make living spaces safe, comfortable, and accessible for those with special needs.

To conduct design consultations for special needs, you must understand the specific needs and requirements of the individuals you work with. This involves understanding mobility issues, sensory sensitivities, and other special requirements.

There is specialized software available that can help designers with design consultations for special needs. For example, software programs allow designers to create floor plans and 3D models of spaces that consider mobility issues, wheelchair accessibility, and other specific needs.

Best practices include involving the individuals who will be using the space in the design process and using materials and finishes that are safe and comfortable. This is to ensure the space is well-lit and easy to navigate.

The cost of design consultations for special needs will depend on the project's scope and the amount of work involved. You may charge an hourly rate, a flat fee, or a percentage of the overall project cost. Discussing fees and expectations upfront is important to avoid any misunderstandings or surprises.

DIY vs. Professional Design Consultations

Regarding design consultations, there are two primary options: DIY (do-it-yourself) and professional. In this ultimate guide to interior design consultations, we discussed both, but which one is the best?

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The decision of which one to choose depends on various factors. These include the complexity of the project, the budget, and the client's skill level.

Pros of DIY Design Consultations

  • Cost-effective: DIY design consultations are generally cheaper since you don't have to pay professional fees.
  • Creative control: DIY consultations give clients more control over the design process, allowing them to express their individuality and creativity.
  • Sense of accomplishment: Completing a design project alone can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Cons of DIY Design Consultations

  • Limited expertise: DIY design consultations are typically limited to the client's level of expertise, which may not be sufficient for complex design projects.
  • Time-consuming: DIY consultations can take a lot of time, especially for those with little experience in design.
  • No guarantees: Without the guidance of a professional, the final result may not meet the client's expectations.

Pros of Professional Design Consultations

  • Expertise: Professional designers have the knowledge and skills to complete complex design projects successfully.
  • Efficiency: Professional designers can complete projects faster than DIY, saving time and effort.
  • Professional resources: Designers can access professional resources that the client may not have, such as high-quality materials, specialized software, and industry contacts.
  • Guaranteed results: Professional designers have a reputation to maintain. They will work hard to ensure that the final result meets or exceeds the client's expectations.

Cons of Professional Design Consultations

  • Cost: Professional design consultations are usually more expensive than DIY.
  • Lack of control: The client may not have as much creative control over the design process as the designer will take the lead.
  • Communication issues: Communication problems can arise if the designer and client have different visions for the project.

When choosing between DIY and professional design consultations, consider the project's scope, budget, skill level, and desired level of involvement in the design process. For small, simple projects, DIY may be a cost-effective option. However, it may be wise to hire a professional designer for guaranteed results for larger and more complex projects.


Various interior design consultations cater to clients' needs and preferences. Full-service design consultations provide end-to-end design solutions, while room-by-room consultations focus on designing specific areas of the home. DIY consultations allow clients to take a more hands-on approach, while e-design consultations leverage technology to provide design services.

Other specialized types of consultations include color, furniture, lighting, space planning, remodeling, sustainable design, home staging, art and decor, luxury design, and special needs design consultations. Each of these consultations has its own unique features and benefits.

When choosing the right type of consultation, clients should consider factors such as budget, design preferences, timeline, level of involvement, and the project's complexity. Working with a reputable and experienced designer is also important to ensure the best possible outcome. This ultimate guide to interior design consultations may have answered a lot of your questions.

Ultimately, interior design consultations can help clients achieve their dream homes and make their living spaces more functional and aesthetically pleasing. Clients can transform their homes into beautiful and inviting spaces by choosing the right type of consultation and working with a qualified designer.


This ultimate guide to interior design consultations includes information about the various types of services you can provide. If you have additional questions and need to broaden your knowledge, these FAQs can provide you with the answers you need.

What is the difference between interior design and interior decorating?

Interior design is a broader term that involves interior spaces' planning, functional design, and aesthetic coordination. It involves a more comprehensive approach to space planning. It often includes working with architects and contractors to ensure that the structural elements of a space are functional and aesthetically pleasing.

On the other hand, interior decorating focuses primarily on a space's aesthetic design elements, such as selecting furniture, colors, and accessories.

What should I expect during an interior design consultation?

During an interior design consultation, you can expect to discuss your goals for the space, your design preferences, and your budget. The designer or consultant may also take measurements and photographs of the space and ask questions about your lifestyle and needs. They may provide initial design ideas or concepts and discuss the project's process and timeline.

How long does an interior design consultation usually last?

The length of an interior design consultation can vary depending on the project's complexity and the client's specific needs. A consultation for a small project may only last an hour or two. In contrast, a consultation for a larger project may take several hours or even multiple sessions.

How much should I expect to pay for an interior design consultation?

The cost of an interior design consultation can vary depending on several factors, including the experience and expertise of the designer, the location, and the project's scope. On average, an interior design consultation may cost anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour.

What qualifications should I look for in an interior designer or consultant?

When choosing an interior designer or consultant, it is important to look for someone licensed and with formal interior design training. You may also want to look for someone who has experience working on projects similar to yours and who has good references and reviews from past clients.

How can I prepare for an interior design consultation?

To prepare for an interior design consultation, gathering inspiration photos or ideas of design styles or elements you like can be helpful. You should also consider your budget and be prepared to discuss your goals and needs for the space. If possible, it can be helpful to have a floor plan or measurements of the space available for the designer or consultant to review.

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