For Interior Designers, Decorators and Stagers, by someone who has lost, and  made money providing what we now, as Couture Chateau LLC, refer to as “Concierge Retail Product Sourcing” or, CRPS for short. There are two basic parts to CRPS. The retail product or actual going price & your mark up. This post deals with the product, not your fee (mostly).


How to calculate cost of miscellaneous items for a client project, when the client wants everything completed, down to the most minute detail. Not the fee part, but the actual item cost. How do we budget for the actual items.


As one from a Hotel Family Background, I can say, “concierge” runs in my blood. It’s one of the reasons the design company I oversee (Couture Chateau LLC) handles details like this. I truly enjoy providing these kinds of services. For a fee.

What I’m sharing in today’s post addresses things from toilet paper to cleaning products, first aid kits to sewing kits, underwear dividers to underwear and more. Trust me, there is always a “more”.

Rule: Discretion is your best friend. Lose it and you’ll never work again.

There is no such thing as a “sneak peek” on Social Media or even a casual glance or comment in public, ever, when providing CRPS.

CRPS by nature, is designed to make the owner look good. Not you. Them. They look good. To friends, family, business associates – for their good taste. And their attention to every detail (read: to honor an intimate in their life).

You are not to be seen or heard from in the final outcome.

This is about HONORING one who has entrusted their most intimate details and needs with you. Honor begets honor. At least that’s what we’ve found with profitable CRPS.

Nuts and Bolts Answer:

My best counsel? Two fold.

1) You have to do the work of the cost analysis, room by room, for your client. Either that, or pay someone to do it for you.

The first time I did CRPS for a client, we didn’t call it that. 

It started casually.

Ann? Can you finish off the place? You know, pick up the dishes and basics? Just wrap them in. I trust your eye. You know our family, you know our (insert anything here). Just let me know what it costs and I’ll reimburse you.

Sure! No problem, assuming with my “Great Oz Wisdom” I’ve got this.

No contract, no handshake, no nothing – just a “sure!”

These were great clients btw. Beautiful wonderful people, inside and out. They just didn’t have time to source these things, wash them and put them away. I love doing that stuff, getting everything all ready.

Insert thought bubble: this is going to be fun!!

Cute little girl thinking and looking up against grey background with vignette

Fast Forward: Tens of thousands of dollars in losses later, a 10-15 lb weight gain, and nearly the loss of an amazing client I can tell you, there is no substitute for:

DOING THE WORK of an item by item cost analysis, for your specific client. None. Make a spreadsheet.

Charge a fee for the estimate, even if it’s $250 to cover an e-lance or fiverr outsource. If they don’t jump at a $250 estimate fee, they will never, did I say never? I meant EVER pay for you to provide CRPS.

If they don’t understand it costs you to create cost analysis and spreadsheets, they will never value your time at providing the service. They are not, repeat, they are not, clients for profitable CRPS.

(Note: we now wrap this estimate fee into our initial contract as an “add-on offering” an “a-la-carte” service, for $2,500, to price out every detail on a 5,000 square foot property. Our formula is estimate cost = 50% of the square footage. It takes us approximately 4 hours per 100 square feet to create, estimate and generate the cost analysis.)


Parameters Protect You and Them: Warranties and Who Pays for CRPS

You are spending their money.

Never run Retail Product through your business model unless you are prepared to offer and maintain the same original warranties as the retailer, ever.

Our clients either:

  1. provide their credit card number for us to use to purchase items after they have signed over permission to do so
  2. have their estate manager/housekeeper purchase with their credit card number
  3. do it themselves from said estimate spreadsheet with links we provide in the paid for Cost Estimate Analysis mentioned above

Like a menu at a hotel, the client must decide, and either enable us (the CRPS) to make/buy/execute, or do it themselves.

Present the Spreadsheets. Information is honor.

We schedule the day or the skype call and screen share the spreadsheets and options, like a great concierge. Usualy at our pre-scheduled weekly meeting.

Yes, or no? Thank you. We’ll get right on that.

If your client is used to saying: “you know me, just order something for me”, I strongly suggest you remember, that even 5 Star hotels have menu’s. And ask for preferences. And take a credit card before check in. With a signature.

Midsection of young butler holding service bell over white background ** Note: Shallow depth of field

Warning: There is no such thing as a STANDARD psf for CRPS. None.

Even if it’s for Toilet Paper. There are several different types of TP.  There are $20 rolls, $2 rolls and $1.3M rolls. Which would you like? I have all three here on your Cost Analysis Estimate. Sign, pay and we will fulfill. Or your Estate Manager can or you can.

 2) Couture Chateau has PSF “brackets” in low-med-high but one person’s medium is another person’s high.

See #1. I am serious here.

I create Curriculum for stuff like this. It matters to me that we get this.

We just completed the best most up to date teaching I have on this for the process of Decorating Stress Free Holiday Homes. Every year we have the honor of helping clients, low-med-high, decorate their holiday homes.

The process I teach in Stress Free Holiday Homes is eerily similar to finishing out the details in Design Projects. I think it’s why clients trust us to do both. You can purchase that teaching for $139 here. Immediate access. 

This product was originally put together for consumers who were unable to get to our live workshops who want Luxury Holiday Homes in DIY Process, but is being used by Professional Stagers, Designers and even a licensed Doctor of Psychology, to help them:

SEE, PRICE and FOLLOW THROUGH the purchase and installation of seasonal AND/OR retail product, including the pre-storage and post-storage budgeting process.

SWAP the description “Holiday Home” for “Dream Home”, “Vacation Home”, “Rental Property”, or “Retail Product” and you get the picture.  

In Video 1: I cover the plan. We use the same “story model” I teach for Holiday Homes in Video 1 to walk through the “story model needs” when Clients want every detail finished by us.

If you don’t get at what I call the Story Model, you’ll never get all the CRPS’s. Ever. You have to get into the heart, soul and spirit of a project. When you have put together clients’ underwear drawers, I’ll give you a certificate. When you get invited back to do it again, you can be in the club.

Honor protects clients. You must know their story to honor them.

What does your heart and home need when you land in your entry hall?

What story will we tell?


Items we will cost analysis include: First Aid Kit, Letter Openers, Last Minute Stamps and Envelopes etc etc etc. etc. See said spreadsheet.

Note, in the Holiday Workshop we also cover 5 areas to budget: Design, Acquisition, Pre-Storage, Installation, Post-Storage. Note, again, ALL five (5) areas have low-medium-high options. Every step has a cost. Three of those steps are associated with product specifically. You must learn to cost analysis that $20 roll of toilet paper properly. Last time I checked I was not a TP delivery and storage warehouse, however, that can be provided for you, for a fee.

The client wants a choice.

Let me say that again. Your client, wants a choice.

Until you do the cost analysis, by item, by room, and have your client pre-approve WHERE they are willing to spend, you cannot accurately estimate the costs.

Case in point:

I have one client who spends millions on art, and has balked at $95 from Pottery Barn for a waste basket.

HONOR presents said client with options: See $95 waste basket, next to an Ikea alternative, and a Frontgate alternative (medium-low-high), which is covered in our PAID ESTIMATE, and they simply approve.


“Thank you Ann, this is wonderful. I can hardly wait to see it all together”

I hope this helps. LEARN from my mistakes & go forth to serve well, honor all, and prosper abundantly.

Happy Friday!

Ann McDonald



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