...because home doesn't happen overnight.
06.20.12 / In the Mood

I started creating mood boards for purely personal reasons almost a year ago. I’m a visual person {aren’t we all?} so grouping decor items all together in one place helps me visualize the bigger picture.

Master Bathroom

Mood boards are great for figuring out what will and will not work in a room before I actually DIY or buy anything. For me, mood boards set the tone for a space.

Kid/Guest Bathroom

After I complete one that I’m happy with, I don’t necessarily follow it to a T but, instead, use it as a springboard for inspiration. I may tweak a few things here and there before the end result is achieved. That’s what I’m known for after all. Tweaking.

Erin's Mid-Modern Media Room

Somewhere along the way, readers started asking me for help with their own spaces.

Lisa's Simply Fresh Sunroom

If I saw potential in a room and the timing was right, I’d give it a go just for fun. Really. Creating mood boards is to me what solitaire is to my grandma. A fun way to pass the time. {Love you grandma.}

Michelle's Breathe Easy Bedroom

Up until now, I’ve never thought of charging for my pastime. I’ve done them all free of charge. {Although, a recent mood board recipient kindly sent me a West Elm gift card for my help. Thankyouverymuch.} Handy Hubby has been pestering me since the first mood board to bring in some extra cash, but I have a hard time with the ‘getting paid to do what you love’ concept. That probably stems from the fact that I hated my well-paying job for the last 10+ years. The more I got paid, the more I hated my job. I know that doesn’t sound right but it’s the truth. The more money I made, the harder it became for me to say ‘take this job and shove it.’ Somehow the paycheck justified my unhappiness, my discontent. And, no, I wasn’t a stripper. That might have actually been fun. Ha!

Violet's Happy Place

I officially quit my job one month ago after Mabrey, our surprise #3!, was born. I feel very lucky that we’re able to live modestly on HH’s single income while I devote more time to our young family. Still, there’s a part of me that wants to contribute financially. I’ve worked since I was 15 years old and working – whether I like the work or not – gives me a sense of credibility to some extent. Not that staying at home with my kids isn’t working or credible. It is work and some days it’s incredible. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had! But, of course, I don’t get paid to do it.

So, long story short, I’m going to start offering custom mood boards for a fee. I haven’t ironed out the details yet. I’m looking to you guys for help with that since that’s where most of my past clientele {listen to me! already using fancy words like clientele} have hailed from. How do I go about putting a price tag on a creative service? Do any of you have experience with this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’m not looking to make a killing. I’d be happy to make enough to cover blog upkeep since it looks as if I need to upgrade my host services yet again because increased traffic keeps crashing my site. {That means you guys are awesome, btw.} A little extra bacon for mama to tweak her heart out wouldn’t be a bad thing either!

Anyhoo, what sounds reasonable to you? Charge by the room? Charge by the hour? Flat fee per mood board? HH thinks I need to charge per square foot of room space but I think that sounds like something an engineer would do. ;) Honestly, what would you be willing to pay for a custom mood board that addresses room cosmetics such as paint colors, finishes, furniture placement, furniture selection, storage/organization, accessories, window treatments, lighting and wall art?

Talk amongst yourselves.

PS – I’ve had an overwhelming number of inquiries concerning the technical side of creating mood boards. The short answer: polyvore. The long answer: coming to you in a future post.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

78 Comments

20.June.2012

Hmmm… totally off the top of my head, I thought $200. I have no idea how that compares to the going rate elsewhere or how long it takes you for each one or what the demand is like… but that is the number I came up with, if that is at all helpful :-)

Really, it should probably be based on the average time it takes you to make one and the number of folks wanting them. And you can always adjust the price after you see how it goes. Good luck!

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21.June.2012

I agree with Hil, I think it should depend on how much time it takes you to do them. But I definitely think you should charge a flat fee per mood board or something like that. No offense to HH, but charging per square foot of room space seems kind-of silly. Sometimes smaller rooms are just as hard to decorate!

Perhaps you could set up some kind of tiered system? Like if someone is just needing help finding the right curtains or a few things for a room that is already semi-complete then maybe the charge is like $50, if they need wall color options, bedding and curtains the charge is $100, and if they need a whole room design with accessories maybe $150? Obviously you would have to put a little more thought into the different tiers, but it is an idea. Good luck! :)

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21.June.2012

Hi Dana,
I’ve been following you for a bit now, can’t even recall how I discovered you but got hooked and went back and read the entire blog from the start. It was sort of a let down to get caught up with you! Anyhow, I will preface this by saying I work for a very talented designer, I manage the business (he hates the charging for what he loves to do, but hey we’ve got employees to feed) so we have had this type of conversation I can’t even say how many times. Here is my two cents without going into all the ins and outs…while HH is not far off (lots of designers charge psf) I would reccomend that for what you’re planning on doing with where you are right now you charge a flat fee per board. It may very well tie back to the hours it takes you, I imagine once you get “in the zone” you move along and are familar enough with how you lay them out you can bust it out once you find your groove, you probably know about how long that takes you. Some may take longer some less but you have an idea. Don’t overcomplicate if for yourself right now, just set you board fee, have a clear communication about what that entails and go for it. If someone sees the value of it, they will pay it, if not, no and that’s okay too. You may want to consider giving some sort of “perk” for them following back up with you and providing GOOD photos and feedback for your portfolio. Best of luck, you have a good eye with a practical sense. :)

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replied on June 21st, 2012

Great idea about offering a perk for after pics!

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replied on June 22nd, 2012

I second the perk idea! I love before and afters as a reader, and you’d also have an easy way to build your portfolio as well.

I’d go for a flat fee as well, maybe with some sort of tier system built in if someone just wants something small figured out (lighting, curtains, furniture placement etc.). $200 sounds a bit much for me, since I’m on a budget and DYI’ing a lot of stuff, but if the price would be a bit lower I would definitely be interested since we’re selling our place and starting to look for a new one… ;)

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21.June.2012

I totally agree with the post above. You are great at what you do, so why not make some extra money doing what you love. Any where from $50 – $200, depending on the project sounds VERY reasonable.

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21.June.2012

i love your mood boards! i think it is great you have decided to earn some income with this skill. when i first saw the numbers above though i was shocked. if i went looking for this kind of service and all i came up with was $100+ quotes, there is no way i’d do it, not because i think that is too much to charge necessarily, but i just couldn’t afford it. when i am working on a room, considering going the thrift and diy route, that kind of money can be all you need to do the desired changes, so it’d be hard to spend on having a board done then having to save up for the stuff again. i am inspired by blogs like yours to make my house a home on the very little income we have. maybe for people like me it just wouldn’t be an option and that’s fine. you have to do what feels right to you. and i agree that part of determining price should be the time put in and that is should be per board. again, i love your blog and hope this helps you “feel credible” because i sure think you are!

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21.June.2012

As far as the mood boards I think you should charge a set fee but if it’s anything beyond that then you should go with the hourly pay rate. I’ve had experience with this but in fashion. I do the same mood boards for fun and for free but recently someone asked me to do one and it’s taking more of my time than usual. Mainly because the sources are not there and I wish I was getting paid for the time spent. Hope this helps and good luck.

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I love your mood boards – they’re great! :)
I would say that you need a flat fee, so that you don’t need to worry about figuring out different pricing for each job. Some will go fast, some will go slower, and in the end it will all balance out. How long do these tend to take you? Make sure you know what your time is worth to you (I never do my graphic design jobs for less than my hourly rate, because with kids I find that time is too precious and people can always find someone else if they want super cheap) and set your rate accordingly.
Good for you for giving it a go!

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21.June.2012

Whatever you decide as your starting price, I think you should have multiple price points. Like a simpler boards with colors, finishes, and furniture could be a lower price, that with accessories a mid level price, and those two levels with a room layout could be your highest price. Maybe you could even work in some affiliated links or more direct partnerships with retailers where you could earn a commission if your clients (or even blog readers that just really like the mood board) purchase the items you suggest. Whatever you do it does sound like you should enjoy it.

Nikki Kelly

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21.June.2012

I think your product knowledge and talent is worth much more than you give yourself credit for.
Clients whose budget can afford it AND who truly want your help with the design of their room are willing to pay a designer/decorator for their suggestions and guidance they themselves may lack. This is a service you provide (even though you love it)- an extremely VALUABLE service that will give the client direction without the full on cost of a designer coming out to the home and billing per hour for their ideas and expertise. I believe that even the possibility of finding a local designer who has the eye and style you bring to the table could be quite difficult. Just my 2 cents (;

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21.June.2012

Hmmm, well when YHL did them they were around $250 I think. A flat fee would be ideal for customers so they know what they’re up for, and I love the idea of a perk for after photos!

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21.June.2012

Hello from Greece! I’m hooked up with your blog for a couple of years and I have to say that I’m very excited with the news of the Underdog! I wish you and your family to experience every pleasure and joy in it! You’ve worked really hard for it! Now, I don’t see why you cannot profit from what you love to do! Isn’t why we spent all this time at schools and unis, to find a job we love? If you can do it (if you have this so called “clientele”), relax, enjoy it and do the best you can! I love your boards because they are very practical (apart of pretty), and because you match reasonable – priced pieces (i.e. IKEA) with I-know-it-costs-a-month’s-salary-but-I’ll-die-if-I don’t-get-it pieces! I agree with the previous commenters on the flat fee, which will probably depend on the room size (small-medium-large). I guess in a range of 30-100$. If someone asks you to be “in situ” to help (a decorator’s job) you can charge extra by the hour. I believe the psf charge is a little impersonal and my not always reflect to the time you spent for it. All that said, I wish you a very good start to your new step.

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21.June.2012

I agree that 200-250 sounds about right. I’ve had a decorator come to my house for a consult for about $150 and that covered furniture placement, paint colors / pallet for multiple rooms. But because your mood boards include practical sources for furniture and decor I think you can go a bit higher. Good luck!

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21.June.2012

I’d also suggest a flat fee. I don’t think it’s fair to charge by sq. foot because you aren’t actually decorating anything in their house… I just don’t think that’s right. I have to agree with a PP, I’ve looked into getting these done before and they are so expensive. I don’t have a lot of money so a $100+ price tag is unfortunately way out of what I could pay. Maybe you could start at $50-75 and if it is popular, restructure your pricing down the line. I’m sure your time is very valuable and worth more than that but it seems to be kind of opposite of your DIY-cheap spirit to offer these at several hundred dollars. Of course you have to do what’s right for you — supporting a family is a big job and you’ll be doing the right thing for them either way.

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21.June.2012

What about doing an introductory period/special to start with (maybe 1-3 months)? Then you could raise your prices after you have gauged the interest and what you need to earn to make it worthwhile.
By the way, I love your blog!

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21.June.2012

I’m glad Steph mentioned what YHL charged – I was going to suggest emailing Sherry to ask her advice. I do kinda remember that before they had to discontinue the service that they limited the availability to two a week so that they were not overwhelmed and customers were not disappointed by a long wait. Not sure what sort of “store” they used but it sounded like they would put 2 moodboards into inventory at a certain time each week and once they were purchased that was it until the next week.

The idea of a perk or reward for “after” pictures sounds great – that is always the biggest disappointment with mood board posts – not knowing how things turned out after the client got the mood board. Maybe charge $225-250 with a $25-50 reward for pictures – you could either refund part of the purchase price or send a gift card from somewhere common (just throwing out ideas).

I think this is a great first step towards that interior design career that you seem to be headed for! And so fabulous that HH is so understanding & supportive – and pushy in a good way.

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21.June.2012

I love the idea of you doing mood boards! Honestly, I personally would be willing to pay $100-150. That does not mean I don’t think they are worth more, but that is what I am willing and able to pay. I like the idea of a flat fee per room, and perks for after photos.

As far as the topic of getting paid to do what you love, have you read apracticalwedding.com? It is SO much more than a wedding planning site! Meg talks a good bit about this topic under the entrepreneurship tag. I would recommend Reclaiming Wife: On Money & Self Worth (9/23/10) and Price is Not the Same as Value (10/12/11). There are some great, empowering discussions with some very wise ladies about how awesome and how hard it can be to put a price on doing what makes your soul sing. :)

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replied on June 21st, 2012

I *love* Meg’s posts at APW and second the recommendation! And count me in as someone who would definitely pay for your decorating advice, if it was in my budget. I also like the idea of tiering your prices based on whether it’s a completely from scratch design or the client just needs a little help to tie things together or freshen something up. I’d recommend you take a look at the average amount of time it takes, decide how much your time is worth per hour, and set a flat fee based on that. That way people can take or leave the flat fee, whereas if you charge by the hour people might not always know exactly what they’re getting into or how much of a result they can expect after x number of hours.

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replied on June 21st, 2012

A third for checking out APW’s posts on entrepreneurship. Honestly, if you’re spending more than an hour or so per board, you should be compensated more than $50. I’ll soon be moving, and will be in a position to take advantage of something like this, and $200 would be worth it, especially considering that you source a lot of the items. My time is valuable, and so is yours.

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21.June.2012

Also, I think as a customer I would look at it as how much time you are saving me versus how much time it takes you. As you get more skilled, it will take you less time (which doesn’t mean that you should charge less as you get better and faster).

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21.June.2012

I think this is a fabulous idea. Have you heard of DesignerAtHome.com ? I used a Groupon to partake in this service. If you would like to email me, I will share my (mostly) pisitive experience and tell you what I would have liked to have seen instead. Kirsten

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21.June.2012

I’ve seen a few bloggers do this and they were always no less than $100. Usually more. And it seems to be a flat fee depending on the size of the room (small, med, large) or how complicated the situation is (clean slate with few preferences, easy; tricky layout/fixtures and lots of owner preferences/requirements, difficult).

As for making mood boards, I’ve recently discovered Olio Board. You might want to check it out: http://olioboard.com/ (I heard about it through iHeart Organizing: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.jp/2012/06/sweet-and-simple-style-tile-tutorial.html )

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21.June.2012

I am also going to start offering mood board services in the next year or so and have done a lot of research. Some designers list prices on their blogs/sites, some don’t. Start by seeing what other designers are doing. I’m trying to gauge what’s appropriate for me to charge by looking at the other designers’ level of experience and education. I’m doing the Sheffield program, and I’m going to charge more after I’ve finished than I would if I didn’t do the program. I’m also looking at geographical area, because I’ve noticed that designers/decorators who live in less affluent areas than I do charge less (even for online services). I live in an area where if you don’t charge enough for your services, it makes you look less credible (I’m right outside of DC), so I have to consider that. I also recommend 2 books: “Marketing Interior Design” & “The Business of Design”. The first one talks a lot about getting over the guilt about charging people for what we do, or feeling that we’re not worthy of charging. The truth is that hiring a designer is a luxury that not everyone can afford (as Ellen pointed out above), but the talent, skill, education and experience a designer/decorator can bring to the table are worth something. Not everyone will be able to afford your services or think a decorator is something they want to pay for even if they can afford it, so it’ll be helpful to keep in mind you want to market to people who find value in what you do. I can direct you to a few sites for pricing ideas if you want, just email me. Good luck!

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replied on June 21st, 2012

Kira, how are you finding the sheffield program? Is it relevant? I am hearing conflicting reports, but mostly not been able to get any feedback from anyone currently doing it. Would you recommend it? I’d love to hear from you. Dana is super busy right now and I am trying to get some reviews. Thanks! (I checked your blog, too…looking forward to it)

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replied on June 22nd, 2012

Hi! I’ve been doing the Sheffield program very sporadically, and so far, it’s okay. It’s not like going to college or anything, it’s truly just a crash course, but it gives you a good foundation in basics. I’m not going to lie, the aesthetics could use some updating but the foundational info is good and for me, that’s what matters. For me, personally, I just want some type of formal education before I start offering services. I have definitely learned things from it already even though I’m not even close to done. Lauren Liess also did it & said the space planning info was great. Layla over at “The Lettered Cottage” did it as well, & the fact that two very successful people have done it & found it helpful is good enough for me. :0) There are also other benefits, one of them being that you get automatic acceptance into some design associations that otherwise are impossible to get into. That’s important on a number of levels, but it’s esp. important if you want to get designer discounts at places like Pottery Barn or Ballard’s. They will only accept designer discount applications if you are a member of a designer association. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for the pre-launch support of my blog, I really appreciate it!!

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replied on June 22nd, 2012

Thanks so much for your response! I will definitely look out for you in the blogosphere!

21.June.2012

I think this would be a great side job of sorts and your mood boards are really great! I am a graphic designer who randomly does freelance and for most of my projects I just do a flat fee. It really is the easiest way to go. That way you don’t have to track hours, measure the size of a room or whatever else to effect the cost

I also really love the idea from Cheryl about a “reward for pictures”. It would be so cool if you did a gift card to one of the locations you chose an item from for whoever. It would be a fun addition to what you do that is different from other people who create the mood boards.

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Cheryl
replied on June 21st, 2012

Although I’d love to take credit for it the reward for picture idea was actually from Teri Hatcher – I just agreed that it sounded good and would hopefully generate the beloved after pictures.

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replied on June 21st, 2012

Lol… Guess I should of read them all! Sorry terry!!

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Dana, very happy to see your starting out doing what you really enjoy. My suggestion for your mood boards would be to implement a tiered system as Caitlin described.

You probably want to figure out how long on average it takes you to develop a basic mood board, then determine your ideal hourly rate. Say $50 an hour and it takes 1 hour? Then setup a flat fee for a ‘basic’ mood board photo as illustrated above. You can increase the fee and add additional information to your customer. Say, for another $50-$100 you provide a list of items and prices where your customers can purchase the items on the mood board. If it goes well, you may be able to partner with some furniture or decor vendors and provide a discount on those items to your mood board customers.

Good luck!!

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My hubby does stuff like this on the side. He’s obsessed with shopping for home stuff. Our house is almost done so now he shops for other people. He charges in a tier fashion, as others have suggested. The basic tier is just the furniture and paint. The next tier is more filled in (more accessories, etc). The third tier is a complete room. He designs the third tier as if it was his own room so he is very very detailed. He fills out all accessories, hunts down more original pieces, and gives more suggestions for different pieces to achieve a different look. For every tier, he always provides a product list and asks for a general budget for the room.

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21.June.2012

Woohoo!! Flat fee per room. If we send pics of the room, can you combine what we already have with what we need to get? Decide what your hourly rate should be, multiply that by how long the average board will take, and there is the flat fee! Factor in time associated with accounting for people’s furniture budget.

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21.June.2012

Not knowing much about the industry, it seems charging per board/room makes the most sense. An “after” perk is a great idea, as is a repeat customer or referral discount.

I get what you mean about figuring out how to charge for doing what you love to do anyway. And also, feeling bad about making people pay for something you want to be able to do for everyone. I’m a personal trainer, and now, blogger and wellness coach. I’ve just launched my own wellness coaching practice, and one of the hardest parts was figuring out what to charge, and then posting it for all the world to see. “You want HOW MUCH?” It feels crazy!

But some of the best (and most frequent) advice I got was don’t undervalue your services and don’t apologize for your fees. As women, we want to please people, so we feel bad asking people to pay. But you have a great talent, and the people who want it will pay for it. The others, well, they can get inspiration for free when you post the boards you do. You are good at what you do, and you deserve to be paid. At least that’s what I keep telling myself! :)

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21.June.2012

This is fabulous! I would definitely get in line to ask for your help in planning rooms. I did have YHL do my kitchen once, years ago, when they first started and it was $120. I think $200 sounds about right for what I have seen out there to start. And offering a perk for finished photos is a great idea.

I also think that offering a consulting fee for questions regarding the design is worthwhile. So, $200 for the board, and if you want consult via email about alternative items, or changes, $50.

Down the road you could offer phone consultations as well, but it does infringe a little on your ability to work when you want, and not be too scheduled.

Congrats on the baby, too! I also have a surprise #3, a little boy after two girls, and it is a wild, amazing ride!

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21.June.2012

I would LOVE to hire you to do a mood board. I have bloggers I follow whose work inspires me so much and to get a little piece of that in my own home would be amazing. I agree with charging a flat fee. Can’t wait to hear the details!

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21.June.2012

As a budding DIYer myself, I have a very hard time paying for something I can do myself even if it is hard work. So when I do pay for it, It’s got to be a good deal. I would pay roughly $100 for a one room Mood Board. My friends who prefer to always hire out will pay double that. I would say that you would want to find the happy medium between the two. The idea of a flat rate makes things much easier. I hate having to wait for a quote for service and usually go with someone with a set listed price. Hope this helps some.

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21.June.2012

You may want to review what online interior design sites charge, such as edesignboutique.com, which offers a flat-fee based service for different types of design feedback. As others have posted above, a sliding flat-fee pricing scale would likely be the most attractive approach to your readers, with $50 for color scheme consultation; $100 for color with a few key pieces of furniture; and $150-$200 for a mood board that is comparable to what you would use for your own rooms/home.

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21.June.2012

Flat fee: $125.00 introductory rate (to build business)
Raise it after a few months when you get slammed.

Offer a coupon for future work if they send pictures (OR if they don’t need future work offer them an “ad” on the blog as a credit)

Additional rooms maybe get a price break or a price cut after 3?

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21.June.2012

I’m the type of person who can decorate for other people much easier than I can do it for myself! Making all those choices for my own home is SO hard and overwhelming sometimes! Paying someone to do that for me would be very enticing. I have to agree with a few other commenters though, as DIY-ers we are in it to save money! When I saw the first comment suggesting $200, my first reaction was, “WHOA, I’d never pay that much!” But at the same time, you should definitely not undervalue yourself. Also, if you’re doing mood boards for people and doing “after” photos and such, it is great content for your blog, so in a way you’re saving time there and you automatically have great eye candy for your blog. Even if I never paid you to do a mood board for me, I would really enjoy seeing what you do for others. Your mood boards have been some of my favorite posts!

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21.June.2012

I would love to see more mood boards. A flat fee makes sense for a full room, but I do have some semi complete rooms that really just need accessories and finishing touches, so a $50 mini mood board fee would be great!

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21.June.2012

Cheers to getting paid for what you love! I made mood boards for my dad for Father’s Day!

I agree with what many would say but wanted to add a thought for the incentive to get pictures/feedback. Instead of a financial incentive ($25 or $10 off the next board) your incentive could be more advice! ie “Dana’s final 3 thoughts” and you give 3 simple ideas to finish the room after the person has applied your advice from their board. You could quickly spot where walls looks bare, accessories are needed etc and it could finalize the project for you and the client.

Good luck!

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21.June.2012

I LOVE all of your mood boards and would love to see posts with more! I agree with the idea of a flat fee and I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I know whatever you decide will be great!

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I agree with most – a flat fee would probably be best. You may want to consider charging a bit more to Canadians, as I’m sure you have to do a little more digging to find paint colors etc when you can’t go to your regular sites. More time should always equal more compensation!

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replied on June 26th, 2012

I don’t agree with this.Canadian stores are not that different from the US. Pain colors can be matched to what she suggests. Yes, there is no Target here yet, but most other stores are the same. Ikea, West Elm, Home Depot, Lowe’s.. I wonder if doing the mood board for the girl’s room took her that much longer that it would require extra charge?? We can always use her recommendation of American products as a guideline to find something similar here.

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21.June.2012

I do free lance design work as an architect and do a tiered flat rate system as well. (Three tiers seems to work well, and my tiers are percent of project cost, but that’s probably not a good model for this). I’ve also played around with charging a flat fee per room, since for me kitchen and bath renovations require more time (structural and plumbing considerations since there is usually a layout change). That might not be true for you, but if you find one type of room takes significantly more time this can be useful.
One other benefit to offer, many companies have a designer program you can sign up for with a business license or membership in a design related organization. The requirements vary, so check into the specific trade programs offered. Some only require a business card, some require crazy things. The benefit is that you get a 10-20% discount on merchandise and better customer service. Most design professionals handle this one of two ways. If you would be ordering the furniture for clients anyway, you keep the discount as part of your profit and overhead. However, more likely for you, you wouldn’t be ordering pieces for clients as part of the service. You could instead offer ordering with a discount as a perk – ie if you get a 10% discount on X sofa, you tell you client they have the option of letting you handle the order and getting a 5% discount. You keep the other 5% as profit for the time involved in coordinating the order. This works best from my experience when they still pay for it directly… Just a few ideas! But I think this is a GREAT plan and a valuable service to offer!

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21.June.2012

Hopefully you will publish your mood boards online. I got so many ideas from the ones that YHL used to do. If so, PLEASE include the floorplans. Funiture placement is something that a LOT of people struggle with (myself included).

As far as pricing, I personally couldn’t afford to pay more than around $100-$150. I never even tried to get one of Sherry’s boards because I flat couldn’t afford them. But then a designer consult is a luxury item always, and you certainly deserve to be compensated for what you do.

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21.June.2012

Dana, I always enjoy your mood boards and think it’s a great idea to start offering them for a flat fee. But… I have no idea what your rate should be, because I’m a frugal DIYer. I suspect there are a lot of us who are reading through the comments and thinking, “What?! I would never spend $200 for a mood board!” It doesn’t mean that plenty of other people wouldn’t pay that much — it’s just that we’re DIYers like you. :)

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21.June.2012

Hey Dana! Love your blog and especially the fact that your getting to post almost everyday now. Our style is so similar and I love to see what you have come up with. Btw, could you tell me the source for th gray couch in your mood board made for Erin’s media room?
I also agree that the set price per board but in a tiered fashion would be your way to go. Good luck!

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replied on June 21st, 2012

hi! here is the link to her original post, but it looks like the couch is no longer available! :(

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21.June.2012

I’ve been reading your blog for about six months now and think it is fabulous. I have never posted before but have to chime in here and say totally think you should go for it! Also, would love to be one of your clients when you get the details ironed out (or before!). I have looked into some of the online decorating services but never tried any, less because of price/packages, and mostly because the style of the designers just wasn’t a good fit for me. I love to decorate myself but am super SLOW w/ decisions, work a lot, and have a baby on the way! so feel like a mood board would be so perfect for me to get some projects kick-started. I’d go w/ flat fee and outline for what that will include. For me, online shopping/sourcing list would be huge, and $150-$200 for a room design seems totally reasonable. Love the idea of a perk for “after” shots b/c would give incentive to get the room done, rather than simply admire how cool the room board is! Good luck w/ this!

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21.June.2012

I just had a fabulous mood board done by chrislovesjulia.com and it was $20 for my livingroom mood board. She just increased prices to $35 but I think that price is well worth it.

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21.June.2012

Rock on! Don’t feel bad about charging for your time for something you love to do.

I think charging per room would be the best solution. The amount is where I get iffy… I think YHL charged $100 per mood board then raised the price a little later on. I’m pretty cheap though and think the most I would pay for a mood board would be about $30.

Nicole

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21.June.2012

Mini Manor blog just started offering them for $35 too: http://www.maillardvillemanor.com/2012/06/mini-manor-moodboard-services.html

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21.June.2012

I was so excited to hear you wanted to do mood boards but so disappointed to see people saying $200! I could never afford to pay that much! I think you should charge a flat fee per room/board, but I think the $30 to $50 range you be more appropriate and feasible for us readers who like you, are striving to be frugal and financially free all while trying to maintain a beautiful, comfortable home and life. I don’t think you should work for free, but a lower price would help out the average DIY’er like yourself!

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21.June.2012

Hi, I am just finishing up a decorating and design program and hope to offer mood boards as part of my services! I think they are a great option for people who want the ideas and sources but don’t necessarily feel comfortable having a designer come in and do everything. They can get things at their own pace and if they really don’t like something it’s usually easier to email someone about it (or just not use that particular idea) than tell them to their face, IMO. I have been looking around and most are between $100-$200. I think the perk idea is great to encourage people sending after pictures! I think a great idea would be give the option of refunding a small amount or give a slightly larger amount discounted on their next board, to encourage repeat clientelle.
And as far as charging for something you love, I struggle with this myself, and maybe more for me, I think it’s based in feeling like decorating is a “credible” thing to charge for. I know it is, b/c it take your time, effort, and talent and obviously there is a demand for it, not everyone can do it! I try to remind myself that it would be no different than me hiring a landscape designer or a website designer (which I would totally do!!!) b/c they have knowledge and talent that I don’t. So just remember your time and talent is just as worth being paid for as anyone else’s at any other job!!!

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21.June.2012

Hi Dana,

Also another thing to consider is international readers. I love your blog and style so definitely would be interested in a mood board but I’m from Australia so it would be very tricky for your to create a product list.

Keep up the good work with those lovely kiddies!

Laura

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21.June.2012

Great discussion so far! I would definitely pay for a mood board. Probably a flat fee makes most sense and depending on how much time you spend on it and how detailed it is, would be the major deciding factor in your price. Just my two cents. :)

Here is a link to a design blog I read: http://jeremyandkathleen.blogspot.com/search/label/freelance%20matters

Kathleen has a ‘Freelance Matters’ series which she gives some excellent pointers for those in the design/creative fields and charging money, etc. for those services. A few good posts are the ones about ‘Estimating & Billing’ and ‘Getting Paid’.

Good luck! :)

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21.June.2012

I think HH is right. If someone has a ginormous room that they want a board for, it would take a lot more time, I would think. Based on that alone, I would charge by the square foot. But if it doesn’t take that much more time, than I would do it by the board, as some people might want more than one board per room, to keep their options open.

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21.June.2012

Tiered pricing; because a full kitchen redo is more complicated than, say, hall closet. But keep the tiered structure simple however. Oh by the way, and you probably already know this… your website designer has written several blog posts about the “getting paid” part of being a freelancer, including process and contracts.

Have a giveaway contest once in a while (twice a year?) for a free mood board! :p

Good luck, Dana! You deserve to be paid for your talent, time and effort.

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21.June.2012

Sorry, just had to chime in again after reading other comments. $35-$50 seems crazy to me! I would expect to pay at least $100-$200. Don’t get me wrong-that’s not small change to me. But if you are a professional, offering a premium service, people should expect to pay for it. People who only want to pay $35 because they would do it all themselves anyway are not your target client. I don’t know how much time you put into mood boards, but I’d guess at the very least a couple hours. Think about what you pay for a massage, a haircut, a pedicure, or even a pizza for crying out loud! What is the going rate for teenage babysitters? See where I’m going with this? Do your research and see what the charge is for comparable services, then charge what you feel good about, not what you worry others will think is too much. You can see from comments here, there are people who will pay. I’ll bet HH would agree!

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replied on June 22nd, 2012

Trish, this is a great comment and you are completely right. Putting together a mood board is more than just saving someone the time, and I also think $35 is ridiculously low.

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22.June.2012

I agree, a mood board definitely helps you figure out what you are looking for. I really like alot of the ideas you put together, great work =) I can imagine how costly this can all add up, for one of the rooms ‘Michelle’s Breath Easy Bedroom’ I noticed the chandelier. A great alternative to spending money on that one would be creating it on your own. Using cut out wax paper circles How about that?!?!?!

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replied on June 22nd, 2012

That chandy is actually less than $80!

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22.June.2012

I had to laugh at the square foot thing! I am married to an engineer as well, and that is exactly something that he would have said. But I think it’s probably a tad overboard for a design fee. Some people may have a humongous living room and others a small one, but in general, they will require similar things regardless of the the square foot. Unless, of course, you are talking a great room or something similarly massive that is multi-purpose. The flat fee sounds like a good idea. Smaller projects theoretically won’t take quite as long, and so you would make more on those, with leeway to work longer on bigger projects if needed.

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22.June.2012

i absolutely adore every single inspiration photo you have on there for your mood board. when it comes to talking about “how much” to charge, its always challenging. Personally, i think flat fee would be best.

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22.June.2012

I think it depends on what you want to do. If you are going to do simple “product” boards like the ones on the blog post, I’d say no more than $100. If you are willing to go beyond to look at the dimensions of someone’s room and figure out if the furniture would actually fit in the space, then I think you could go a little higher, say $200. I’d also consider having a “budget” option where the items you suggest fit within someone’s pre-determined budget. You could offer a range of options with different prices.

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22.June.2012

Definitely a flat fee, like most of the others said. $150 would be the most that I would pay (more likely to use the service in the $50- $100 range). Not that you aren’t GREAT, but I am on too much of a budget to pay more.
Good luck! Love your blog. :)

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22.June.2012

First, oh my word! You offering mood boards would be amazing! I love your style.

Second, charging for anything is so hard. My mom is a photographer and we’ve gone around and around on that. But I always say to her {1} you have to make what your time is worth {2} who is your target clientele? I don’t think there is a wrong answer…you just have to figure out what and who exactly you are targeting.

Also, I’m with some of the others…My hubby would balk at spending a lot of money on a mood board when I do so much decorating in our home already. But my biggest needs tend to be tweaks. Like…At one point my daughter’s nursery was just about right, but I felt like it needed some tweaks that I couldn’t put my finger on. I didn’t want to pay $150 for someone to suggest a few minor tweaks, but I would have gladly paid someone a smaller fee {$25-$50} to take a look at her room and make a couple of suggestions. So maybe you could also offer a “house*tweaking” ;) service for situations like that {which is very much along the lines of what people were saying about the tiers}. Just a thought…it’s a little different from a complete mood board, so may not even be the direction you’re wanting to go with it.

Whatever ends up happening, I know it will be great! You have a great eye and such talent!

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22.June.2012

I think you should charge a just a flat fee for the mood board. that seems to be the norm around blogland with mood boards and that’s what I’d be willing to pay. good luck with whatever you choose!

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23.June.2012

I like the idea of the tiered rates, depending on what people are looking for. I myself would love to get input on how to arrange my furniture! I’ve re-arranged furniture a few times now in my L-shaped living/dining room and I’ve never been completely satisfied. I would love to hire someone to come in and give me ideas, but I don’t have that kind of money. I’m a single gal, renovating my townhouse one project at a time – which is why I took to the internet, stumbled onto your blog, and have been hooked ever since:) I would love to get your opinion as long as I could afford it. I look forward to hearing what you decide to do with your pricing…good luck!!

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23.June.2012

No matter what your fees, I want to be one of your first clients!

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23.June.2012

I think this is such a great idea!! You are talented and should use your talent to see how far you can get!

Best of luck!

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25.June.2012

I would definitely be interested in mood boards! I’m very cheap though so I feel like I couldn’t give good pricing advice. I agree with the suggestions for tiered pricing. I would pay around $30 or more for a basic board that would give me some direction for a room.

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25.June.2012

I was hoping you’d offer this service soon. I am fedvup with my awkwardly shaped family room but don’t want to buy a single thing until I get some advice. Anyway, I think the flat fee is the smartest idea. I actually think yhl started at $35 for their first mood boards. I know I was pretty broke back then and I thought it was reasonably priced. She went up to $200-$250 fairly quick though. I also think that not only should the price reflect the number you’ve done, but it should also reflect your credentials.

Here is a few things that always worried me about laying for a mood board though. One, back in the day before kids, I actually spent hours on decorating blogs and message boards. I actually started doing mood boards for people and thought they were quiet easy. When you spend so much time glacing at the products available, and they are already clipped into polyvore, it’s not super time consuming. And really, just because you use one lamp is someone’s room doesn’t mean you can’t use it in another….just like in photography, designers have a specific taste to their work too.

Another thing that keeps me from buying a mood board is the fact that there is a chance you could just not like it. You could sound $100 on a mood board and want to kick yourself because you just used tha $100 on a lamp you really wanted. So it could be off from what you were expecting and a waste of money. Also, sometimes the products are insanely expensive or they could be something that’s not readily available to someone else.

Honestly, for $150+, I’d rather just have someone come and do the real thing. There are so many deals to be had at places like homegoods or Tuesday’s mornings that aren’t online. Or even hobby lobby. I’d rather go to a place with someone in person, know that the colors are actually going to work well together and get stuff at a good price instead of ordering everything full price online.

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27.June.2012

Interesting comments. My 2 cents: Don’t short-change yourself. Make it worth your while or you will get burned out. Charge extra if you do any sort of space planning involving measurements. (that takes forever!) Charge more for kitchens. Ask for their budget. But you already knew all that. Good luck!

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[...] I’m planning to fly the nest in six months or so (health of bank balance permitting) and although it’s quite a while away I’ve been collecting images everytime I see something I HAVE to have. This is the latest collection of ideas, put together on Polyvore (thanks for the tip Dana from House Tweaking). [...]

18.April.2014

Hello,

was wondering if you create mood board boards for other people. I was looking for someone to do this for me.

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