As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back at the best stories of 2020—including highlights from BOH’s print quarterly. (Want to read them all? Start here. Want immediate access in print and online to upcoming issues? Subscribe or become a BOH Insider to get industry insights and analysis from Business of Home each quarter.)
WINTER: The Money Issue
It’s one of the most highly contested topics in the industry—one that every interior designer faces: How do you charge? The money conversation is never an easy one, and beyond the normal finesse required to navigate those waters, designers also have to tread the emotional landscape of developing trust with a client—and, often, educating them about the financial realities of home design. Do you charge a markup? For your first consultation? Do you use design fees, hourly charges or a combination? The approach to charging varies widely across the industry, and when BOH editor in chief Kaitlin Petersen interviewed dozens of design professionals to try to pinpoint the best way, one point remained consistent: “No matter how a designer charged, the bedrock of the relationship’s success was more deeply rooted in their confidence than in the finer points of their contract.”
- Read more: “Is it time to change the way you charge?”
For many interior designers, landing a licensing deal marks a career milestone, as it garners not only prestige, but exposure and (lest we forget) royalties. Some, like New York–based designer Barry Goralnick, turned to licensing because they’re primarily interested in product design. Others, like Jeffrey Alan Marks, had been collaborating with to-the-trade furnishings company Palecek for years before he began pushing for a product that the brand had never before carried. Haley Chouinard takes an inside look at how different designers got their licensing deals, reporting that “product lines are far from a get-rich-quick scheme. From pitch to production to paycheck, the process often takes years.”
SPRING: The Wellness Issue
Wellness was trending long before the pandemic. The Global Wellness Institute reports that wellness is a $4.5 trillion market, $134 billion of which is dedicated to holistic real estate. But as Fred Nicolaus learned more about the aspects that make homes healthy, he discovered that there were many more that made them dangerous—from carcinogens hidden in flame retardants to the real definition of low-VOC paint, he uncovers the many silent threats that loom in our homes.
While sometimes difficult to articulate, the emotional effects of a well-designed space can be profound—when successful, a room can improve one’s mood, creativity and energy. As Hannah Hickok reports, mounting evidence suggests the many ways that design—from lighting and colors to greenery and art—can significantly impact mental health.
- Read more: “Can you design happiness?”
SUMMER: The Discovery Issue
There’s no one way into the design industry, and as any designer will tell you, experience is the best educator. Now, some designers—especially those who find themselves repeatedly asked for business or design advice—are monetizing their knowledge by developing digital courses. Haley Chouinard explains how these online how-to classes allow designers to broaden their brand awareness, establishing a steady stream of income, and continue to share the lessons they’ve already learned the hard way.
At times, it seems as though the coronavirus has inexorably changed modern life—and while inbound vaccinations and whispers of herd immunity have become beacons of hope, the way Americans view their homes has transformed. Work-from-home culture is likely to linger beyond the pandemic, and suburbs have become attractive alternatives to city dwelling. As the allure of outdoor spaces, home gyms and private offices sent droves of Americans fleeing from urban centers, Fred Nicolaus caught up with design and real estate experts to unpack what such an unprecedented reshuffling of how and where we live means for the design industry.
- Read more: “Will COVID-19 lead to a suburban renaissance?”
FALL: The Technology Issue
Technology has been creeping into the design industry for decades, and in the last several years, the photorealism of digital renderings has turned the medium into a deeply powerful tool for interior designers. These computer-generated 3D models approximate the design plans for clients, clearly communicating the scope of a project. South Florida–based designer Nicole White describes a phenomenon that she’s encountered many times with renderings: “I’ll send it over, and like clockwork, a few minutes later, my phone buzzes and it’s the client. They’re like, ‘I’m going to live there?!’” Digital renderings may transform the way clients interact with the trade, clearly outlining the value of design services before a check is ever written. But fair warning: Using renderings isn’t all rosy. As Fred Nicolaus reports, complications have been known to arise when the final product doesn’t exactly match the model—leading some designers to quit renderings cold turkey.
Nowadays, smart home features once reserved for science fiction have become very real possibilities for the modern homeowner, but making sense of all the options can be daunting. In a roundup of 13 new smart home products, Marina Felix picked the technologies that are on the cutting edge—from design-friendly air purifiers to voice-automated faucets—and the integration systems that will reinvent how clients interact with their homes.
- Read more: “13 smart home products on the cutting edge”
Homepage image: A living room by Christopher Kennedy from the Winter 2020 issue of BOH | Courtesy of Christopher Kennedy