fees for
full service
design services
—an explanation


It’s a question that people ask at the get go:

“What do you charge?”

The next question is:

“How do you work?”

So here is a basic guide for Full Service projects. (An informed client is a good client. ;-)


I work primarily on an hourly basis. My rate is $150 per hour. I charge $75 per hour for drive time, when going to a project outside of The Woodlands or when driving to showrooms in Houston.

I charge for my assistants’ time when they are working on CAD drawings, sourcing products, or visiting a job site or showroom for me for your project.  I do not charge for their time when they accompany me to job sites or meetings....so you don’t get billed for both of us in that instance. Their time is billed out at $50 per hour, drive time included. I also have a project manager that I bill out at $75 per hour, $50 per hour drive time.

I bill either once or twice a month, this will be stated in your Agreement. 


Alternatively, I can propose flat fees where I feel like they are appropriate. After our initial meeting, I determine the way to bill for your project and that is detailed in your Agreement. I sometimes propose hybrid type Agreements if there is some question about parameters of the scope.

For remodeling or other design work, you should take into account that my fee would be between 8-12% of the overall budget. That's the budget that your contractor will start his part of the job with, not the budget you have at the beginning of the design process, as wants and needs often change as we go along. 

Any flat fee or percentage based fee is estimated for design only, not procurement of any goods or site visits/construction administration. 


We begin with your email request about your project (email me at carla@carlaaston.com). We will answer back with questions about our project. After we receive your response, we will book our first get-to-know-you meeting. This appointment has a cost of $250 for an approximate 1 hour to 1 1/2 hour visit, payable prior to the meeting with a credit card, or at the meeting with a check.


After our initial meeting and we all feel like we're a good fit for each other, I write up a Letter of Agreement, where I describe the services you are requesting and detail the payments required, etc. After you sign that, via SignNow, for a digital signature or in person, we can get started.

I can give you a ballpark range for the design fee for your project if we proceed on an hourly basis, after we have determined your project scope, before we submit your Agreement. That estimate is based on my experience with past projects. However, the big variable here is you and your unique circumstances. Since we are just getting to know each other at this point, please realize that decision making, trust, the need to see many options, etc., all affect the length of the design portion of a job, thereby affecting the fee. While we go to great lengths to get you comfortable with your design and to provide you with options if needed, time spent on continuous revisions and re-selections has to be billed.

Flat fees are detailed with parameters as noted in the Agreement.

Minimum project design fee is $5000, no matter how small the job. This amount is generally for a single room design, like a master bath. It could be more, however, depending on scope of work, size of room, and any adjacent rooms affected.

After a construction project is started, site visits are always done additionally by the hour with a minimum of $100 per visit. Once a week is usually typical to help us keep tabs on things with a good contractor managing your job. We strongly encourage our clients to keep us involved this way, as that's the best way to ensure the integrity of the design is achieved. Site visits are defined as unscheduled visits done at our convenience, to check on the job. These are not onsite meetings. Onsite meetings are done at the regular hourly rate.

Design fees generally include:

  • Programming - verifying site and project parameters in detail
  • Schematic Design Presentation 
  • Two or three additional meetings or shopping as required for the project
  • Documentation of the design with drawings, general notes, and specifications
  • Digital storyboards are included depending on the project.


I can get quotes together for you for any purchases you wish to make through my studio. I do charge for that time, however once you place your order there won’t be any more time billed for that purchase. For example, if we’re doing custom window treatments in your home, once you’ve paid, the time spent tracking and coordinating everything that relates to those window treatments is covered in the cost.


If you have a tight deadline or a drop dead date or you need me to jump on your project right now, an additional fee is assessed.


One time consults can be fit in and I welcome those when my schedule permits. Click here to find out how our in-home and on-line consultations work. All consultations are paid up front, prior to the meeting.

If I cannot take on your project or I find it might fit better with another designer, I urge you to peruse the ASID TGCC website for many qualified designers in our area.

If you’re looking for a more affordable option for design services, I do a Q&A type consult remotely too, Designed w/a Click.


I prefer e-mail to phone calls, because I’m often out driving, on job sites, or in meetings. You’ll get my personal cell # when you sign your contract.

I’m pretty much available anytime, except Sundays please, but again, if it’s after hours, contact me via e-mail. I prefer to use texting only if it’s urgent, as it is not a good way to reference and keep record of our interactions and messages. Please note that all correspondence, including texting and email, is billed if project is done on an hourly basis. I cannot do weekend meetings, but I can do a late afternoon meeting during the week, no later than 6:00 pm with a one hour limit.

Please note that I have a great staff that have been hand-picked and trained by me. They handle much of the day to day and production part of the job. On projects, I am the project designer, so all design choices and selections, all design decisions are finalized by me. They may help me with many things throughout the process, from management to errands, and much of your interaction will come through them. However, I am a control freak :-) and I am well aware of what's going on with your project at all times.

I hope this takes some of the fear of the unknown out of working with a designer. It’s here for your information so that you can be better informed when we start.

Thank you! / Carla ;-)