How Hiring an Interior Design/Merchandising Firm Can Save a Builder Money

By Sue Ridgeway

It may sound overly optimistic, but it’s true: hiring an interior design/merchandising firm can save a builder money. Home building is never a straightforward endeavor. There are a multitude of factors that can impact the bottom line. Having a full-service firm that specializes in design and merchandising can eliminate many of the unknowns and help keep costs under control. From plan critiques to choosing finishes to fit your product and the buyers’ expectations, hiring the right interior design/merchandising firm can be one of the smartest investments a builder makes. Helping the buyers’ dreams be realized and the builders’ budgets yield profits is the ideal interior design/merchandising firm’s goal.

Design-Focused Ways an Interior Design/Merchandising Firm Saves Money

Bridging the Gap

An interior design/merchandising firm will work closely with your sales and marketing team. Further, they’ll be deeply involved in the construction process and its needs. Truly, they’ll work to bridge the gap between creating “feelings and desires to buy” and the actual construction of a home. Communication is key. Through effective communication, the interior design/merchandiser works with all parties involved to ensure compromises happen for successful execution of projects.

Being one step-removed, the interior designer/merchandiser can often help a builder see and/or consider things they haven’t in the past. Whether it’s building a shelf that adds creative texture to a simple wall, applying accent color on a ceiling or door or making sure there is enough space between windows for statement art, there are tricks of the merchandising trade that can help balance the impact of the design with the limits of a construction budget.

Dramatic, affordable art in this David Weekley model home.

Laying Out Furniture

Furniture layout is another area of expertise in which an interior designer/merchandiser can save the builder money. And, we don’t mean eliminating future. Rather, we mean by showing (great) use of space. It’s understanding where to place the pieces. Showing off windows and room relationships, while providing comfortable walking, sitting, and viewing areas is key.  The builder won’t have to worry about adding square footage if they know the interior designer/merchandiser can create a furniture layout that evokes feelings of ‘openness.’ It’s all about the perception.

The furniture layout in this Parkwood Homes model shows off the indoor/outdoor relationship while inviting social participation in a casual, comfortable environment.

Budget-Focused Ways an Interior Design/Merchandising Firm Saves Money

A good interior designer/merchandiser will know how best to allocate funds, especially if there isn’t much room for flexibility in the builder’s budget. For example, when furnishing a living room, a highly stylized coffee table or unique accessory is often wiser than a pricey sofa. If you consider that in a model, the sofa is often in the background while the other items that catch the eye first are usually the coffee table or distinctive accessory. So, put your money where you can see it.

Continuing Materials and Colors

Along the lines of knowing when to spend and when to save, interior designers/merchandisers also know design ‘tricks’ to make small spaces appear larger. For example, extending kitchen cabinets all the way to the ceiling visually enlarges the space and may allow the builder to charge more per square foot of space.

Carrying materials and colors all the way to ceiling gives the perception of a more customized home and a feeling of more space in this Regal Homes, UT model.

 Preventing Mistakes

Preventing expensive mistakes such as overlooking improper door swings or realizing that a fireplace is too close to a corner and will not allow for proper seating is another key benefit of working with an interior design/merchandising firm. A professional interior designer/merchandiser will often recognize errors before it is too late, before the money is spent. This is another argument for why the design firm should be hired as early into a project as possible.

The Bottom Line

Hiring an interior designer/merchandiser – preferably as early as possible in the process – will save a builder time, heartache, and perhaps most importantly, money. A full-service interior design/merchandising firm can help from the very beginning by ensuring your floor plans are efficient and well-thought out. During the process, the interior designer/merchandiser can help keep the project organized and within budget. And finally, the interior designer/merchandiser can create a model home that is designed in such a way as to evoke that overwhelming desire to buy.


Post courtesy of Sue Ridgeway, Director of Marketing at Lita Dirks & Co., an interior design and merchandising firm based in Greenwood Village, Colo.

Follow Lita Dirks & Co. on InstagramFacebook and LinkedIn for more interior design ideas and inspiration.

Header image: Alon Koppel Photography, Bonura Hospitality Group

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