FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: What does an interior designer do?
A: Interior designers enhance the quality of life for you and your family in your interior spaces.

Q: How do they do this?
A: They draw upon many different disciplines to add functionality and aesthetic value to any room or home. Interior designers can read blueprints, create lighting and electrical plans, specify home appliances, and choose interior materials and finishes that will work well while being attractive and long-lasting.

Q: Who hires an interior designer?
A: Anyone who wishes to improve the quality of their life.

Q: Do I need a designer if I already have an architect?
A: Yes. Generally, architects are concerned with designing the “envelope” or the structure itself. They are not trained or knowledgeable in the application of interior finishes or furnishings for a room or home. An interior designer can navigate you to interesting and unique color and paint choices, tile, cabinetry, wallcovering choices, and floor finishes as well as decorative elements that make sense for the use and style of the project.

Q: When should I hire an interior designer?
A: You can hire an interior designer at any point but it is generally best to have one on your side and working as your advocate as early as possible, especially if your project involves construction. An interior designer can review plan sets and make sure there is enough useable space to meet your goals. If you are not contemplating a new structure or an addition, it is still best to hire an interior designer as early as possible since a designer will work with you to source and specify all materials and finishes for your contractor to begin work.

Q: What is the difference between Fiorito Interior Design and an in-store designer?
A: In-store designers at retail firms can naturally only use the products available to them through the retail store itself. An independent interior designer can find for you products, finishes, materials, furniture, and furnishings across a very wide and diverse array of manufacturers and sources, making your design more exciting, unique, and personal.

Q: What experience do you have?
A: I have a degree in interior design from the design program at West Valley College, an accredited school. My education includes information in building construction and codes; the history of art and interiors and furniture; the theory and practice of color; lighting design; training in the creation and usage of materials like tile, solid surfaces, leather, and fabric; and space planning and ergonomics. I spent two years in home staging before opening Fiorito Interior Design in 2006, but I have spent most of my life interested in design. With a background in art and performance and stage design, I have done product and window displays at retail stores and find the art of design to be an on-going process. I continually find inspiration in following new interior design products, design innovations, and the work of other designers.

Q: What does it mean for you to be Allied ASID?
A: I belong to a professional organization called ASID, the American Society of Interior Designers. Membership requires a higher level of education that you will not find among others who call themselves “interior decorators.” Membership in ASID guarantees that you are hiring someone with knowledge and training in the many fields of interior design. And in fact, to continue to hold membership in ASID, one must participate in “continuing education units” or “CEUs,” which further and constantly update an interior designer’s knowledge base.

Q: How do you work? What is the process?
A: I like to start with an introductory meeting which usually lasts around an hour. This allows us to meet each other and for you to show me your space and tell me about your goals and wishes for your design project. After this first meeting, I write up a Scope of Service which is a room-by-room list of exactly what tasks I will be performing for you and what I will be sourcing for the project. This Scope of Service appears in a Letter of Agreement which serves as our contract. At this point there is no obligation and you are free to enter into our contract or not.

Q: Is there a contract?
A: Yes, I work under a Letter of Agreement which is a contract in letter form. It outlines the specific Scope of Service, room by room, of what I will be sourcing for the project and what services I will be providing for you. I find my clients are very happy to see a clearly written list, so we are all “on the same page.”

Q: Can the contract change after we begin my project?
A: Yes, I have a clause in the contract which states that emails can act as amendments to the contract, so the items in your project can be changed, added to, or subtracted from with an email between us.

Q: What services will you provide for me?
A: As much or as little as you wish and your project requires. If you just want to change the look of your home with new furniture and accessories, Fiorito Interior Design can provide that. If your project is a bathroom or kitchen remodel, I can provide space planning and layout. If you have a tile you have fallen in love with, we can use that as a starting point for a design, or if you need to start from scratch, I can assist in choosing a tile, color palette, cabinetry, appliances, counter top and backsplash, sinks, faucets, plumbing, wallcoverings, window treatments, lighting, and art and accessories. My Scope of Service is completely customizable to you and your needs.

Q: What is your style?
A: My style is your style. A Fiorito Interior Design is completely customer driven. I spend time with you to find out what colors, finishes, and styles you like and those you don’t. I gain insight by asking what you currently like about your space and what doesn’t work. My job is to find the things you love. If you wish to have a sleek, minimal kitchen with little to no visible elements, or by contrast, if you wish to have a luxurious, glamorous master bathroom, together we can create either of them. I must sadly leave at the end of a project but you get to stay: your space should make you feel happy to be in it, and should leave you saying, “Life is good!”

Q: Can you provide references?
A: Yes, I am happy to provide references.

Q: Do you work with other trade professionals?
A: Yes, I find it is essential. I have a network of trusted construction professionals, furniture and furnishings sources, and fabric work rooms and upholsterers, as well as various to-the-trade vendors and custom sources. Your design is a team effort!

Q: What is the sequence of phases that my design project will go through?
A: Once I receive a signed Letter of Agreement and a required retainer, we begin work on your project.
After I measure and take photos of your existing spaces and evaluate for and review anything that will affect the space planning and interior design of your project, we start work on style direction and color choices. This is known as the P rogramming Phase. Next is the Schematic Phase which may include two-and three-dimensional renderings, and preliminary choices of materials, finishes, and furnishings. During the Design Development and Materials Specification Phase, I source and specify all materials, furnishings, and furniture for your project and show you photos, samples, or possible physical or electronic presentation boards. Finally the Procurement and Project Observation Phase is where we purchase everything for your project.  Ideally, I prefer to have all elements on site, ready for the contractor to start whenever available.

Q: How do we get started?
A: It’s simple and fast: email me or give me a call to set up an initial, one-hour meeting! From the information we cover at that meeting, I will put together a Scope of Service in a Letter of Agreement. This will also include an estimate of how long the project could possibly take and from that, an estimate of my design fee.

Q: How long will our project take?
A: Generally, the design part of a project takes about four to eight weeks depending upon how large the project is and how many spaces we are designing. This is true for bathrooms, but add a few weeks for kitchens since there are simply more choices. It is not as fast as they make it look on TV and in fact, the design process should be done carefully and with thought. These are important choices and as your advocate, I can make sure we do not rush through them. For additions or whole-house construction, this process can be longer.

Q: How involved in the process will I need to be?
A: As much or as little as you would like and feel comfortable with, but my most successful designs have been ones that were collaborative with my client. A design is elevated when all parties are involved and excited by the possibilities of the creative process!

Q: Do we need to use your contractor or architect?
A: No. While I have a list of trusted contractors and architects I have worked with over the years, Fiorito Interior Design does not have in-house architects or a build-team. I can recommend architects and contractors for you to interview but you should feel comfortable with your architect and contractor, and you are absolutely free to choose whomever you wish. That aspect of the project and contract is between you and the contractor and architect.

Q: Can you manage the entire project?
A: I provide Project Observation which in many cases is more valuable than Project Management. When you go into contract with your contractor, that person will act as your Project Manager. However, I visit the job site often during construction and installation to “keep an eye on things,” and to make sure that what is being built and installed is according to the design we have created together.

Q: Do I need to hire a designer if I only want help with new furniture?
A: While anyone can certainly go to one of the big retailers and buy new furniture, an interior designer can provide insight into alternative ways to use your space, as well as unique pieces of furniture, furnishings, and lighting you might not be familiar with and which are unavailable at the big retailers. My clients often say, “I wouldn’t have thought of that, but I love it!”

Q: How do you charge?
A: There are almost as many ways for designers to charge as there are designers! I have found that the best way not only for me but for my clients too is to charge an hourly fee. That way there is no wasted money by paying a large flat rate. You only pay for the actual hours worked which is estimated in the Scope of Service in our Letter of Agreement. I also offer a valuable product discount on anything I source for you: if I can procure a piece at a wholesale price, I add a small mark-up and you get the piece for at least 20% or 25% off the retail price. If I procure material at a trade discount only, say between 15% and 30% depending on the dealer and manufacturer, I pass that savings to you without a mark-up. You never pay retail price for anything. Your savings, in most cases, offsets my design fee, or in the case of large projects, can match it!

Q: What will my project cost?
A: That depends entirely on the Scope of Service for your project and varies routinely since every home, client, and project is unique. If it is a very large project with a large Scope of Service, it will naturally be more. My design fees are usually a small percentage of the overall budget for a project.

Q: Do I have to make purchases through you?
A: No, you don’t but I offer a valuable product discount on anything I source for you.

Q: Where do you get your furniture (tile, flooring, lighting, plumbing)?
A: Over the years I have built up a very large network of vendors, stores, resources, and manufacturers through which I source. I also have access to the San Francisco Design Center as well as Design Mart Silicon Valley. This means we have literally thousands and thousands of products in each category to choose from! But fear not, you do not need to wade through tons of catalogs, look at 587 chairs, and climb mountains of fabric swatches: that is why you have me, your advocate. Based on our agreed style and color direction, I will narrow your choices down and present them in a sane and orderly fashion, and will guide you in your decision making process!

Q: Do you have fabric and wallpaper books to choose from?
A: Yes! I have access to every major fabric and wallcovering manufacturer and then some. I can source products and provide samples and swatches of fabrics, leather, wood and metal and glass finishes on furniture, and wallcoverings of all kinds to coordinate with either an existing design scheme or one we are creating from scratch.

Q: Can you use my favorite piece of furniture/pillow/rug/piece of art in the new design?
A: Absolutely! In fact, having a built-in jumping off point for style and color direction gives us a leg up. I can incorporate your favorite piece while keeping an eye on the big picture. And remember, we can always reupholster or refinish that family heirloom to make it look young, fresh, and happy to be part of your new space.

Q: What if I am unsure of what I want to do but just want to get some ideas from you?
A: Yes, we can do that! For a more informal encounter, I offer a special consultation for $400 for up to two hours. We can walk through your space, you can tell me about your wish list, and I can make recommendations and come up with ideas for you on the spot, all without a contract.

Q: How do I arrange for a first meeting?
A: It’s quick and simple: either call or email me and I can schedule a day and time for our first meeting. I look forward to hearing from you!