Design fee topic prompts spirited debate

We’re fresh off the heels of the 2022 Closets Conference & Expo, held April 27-29 in San Diego, California, where we had record conference attendance and phenomenal speakers who shared their knowledge and experience, offering inspiration and best practice tips for business.

One recurring theme that popped up from the opening keynote with award-winning designer Laurie Haefele, Haefele Design, to a later session with Karen Rolleri, Organizeology, was the importance of charging design fees. As you might imagine, this topic became a spirited discussion. Both Haefele and Rolleri, whose session was specifically about design fees, favored this becoming an industry standard. However, attendees seemed divided about whether charging these fees would help their business.

While I’m not a designer or an owner of a closet franchise, dealer, or manufacturing firm, I agree with Haefele and Rolleri that charging for design should be a standard. I’ve talked with designers and business owners across the country. I’ve visited your showrooms and manufacturing facilities, and I’ve seen your skill and passion for the industry. And I believe you should be paid for every aspect of your expertise. You bring a lot to the table, not the least of which is your design skill; this knowledge should not be discounted or offered as complimentary. 
Time is money – that’s a phrase we often hear in all walks of life, and it is certainly true in business. Another conference speaker, Tim Coleman, SCE Unlimited, took us through a step-by-step presentation showing the actual cost of doing business, everything from the cost of a sale, mismeasure or go-back to materials, advertising, and more. Everything has a value, a cost, especially your time.

Other home remodeling professionals, from kitchen and bath designers to architects and interior designers, charge design fees, so why shouldn’t you? Whether you agree or disagree with me, I want to hear your thoughts.


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user michaellebradford
About the author
Michaelle Bradford | Editor

Michaelle Bradford, CCI Media, is Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine and Woodworking Network editor. She has more than 20 years of experience covering the woodworking and design industry, including visits to custom cabinet shops, closet firms and design studios throughout North America. As Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine under the Woodworking Network brand, Michaelle’s responsibilities include writing, editing, and coordinating editorial content as well as managing annual design competitions like the Top Shelf Design Awards. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media.