All Posts in Design

November 1, 2019 - No Comments!

What Does It Cost: Sofa and Sectional Addition

Custom sectional in performance Crypton fabric for a client project in Seward, NE.

As anything in life, there are varying price points for all furniture pieces with a number of factors contributing to their final cost. These factors are: the manufacturer or designer of the piece, size, fabric selection, other types of materials used, customization options, number of pieces available, where it is made, its age, and if it is machine or handmade. Not to mention shipping and delivery fees associated with where you live.

Since I don't want you to feel like I've tricked you into reading this post and won't really provide any hard numbers, let's break down different price points that we typically recommend for sofas and sectionals. We consider our client's lifestyle, overall budgets, and honestly, the affect that mass production has on the quality of our designs for your home (and the planet) when selecting these main pieces.

Custom Moss Studio tufted sofa in blue velvet.

SOFAS and SECTIONALS: $500-$9500

Yes, I understand that's a pretty big price range. And there are plenty of luxury designers sourcing sofas for much more than $9,500. Even Restoration Hardware can have sectional prices add up to over $15K. But we usually don't go past the $10K point because we want to leave plenty of room for original art and other finishing touches that sometimes don't make the cut because the budget all went to one piece.

We work with a manufacturer from Los Angeles, Moss Studio, to produce custom sized sofas and sectionals with lifetime frame warranties on most of our projects. I'm talking customized down to the inch which is very helpful when working in awkward or small spaces. We really value that these pieces are made in America, are super comfortable, and the quality is great. Often we want high performance fabric that feels really soft and is close to indestructible. So we pair Crypton fabrics with their frames. Real human people are handcrafting your sofa too, and getting paid a living wage which is pretty important to us. These custom pieces are usually somewhere between $3500-$6500, again depending on final size and materials. But if you come to us with a giant great room and want a huge u-shaped sectional totally tricked out, well that's another story and your price just jumped up a few rungs.

For other projects and rooms that aren't your main living space  (like basement TV rooms) we might use a company like Interior Define. Their pieces are made well, have enough good looking options to make it worth our while, and carry several performance fabrics that work well enough for secondary spaces. Plus, we like their customer service the best if we have to go retail. Sofas and sectionals from them are around $1500-$3500. There can also be cute, somewhat decent quality sofas at places like West Elm and Pottery Barn at similar retail price points to Interior Define. But nothing very customizable and you can easily lose hours to their poorly organized systems and customer service that doesn't seem to communicate between departments. (At least that has been our experience dozens of times.)

Interior Define sofa in a performance fabric for a basement family room project in Omaha, NE.

Now, let's be clear about where we might recommend using that $500 sofa. It isn't something we would suggest for a main living area, for people with animals or children, or in a space that sees a lot of traffic from guests. After years working with different lines, we've observed that 90% of these really inexpensive pieces fall apart quickly. Their fabrics get wrecked by pets (and you can't pass it off as "patina"), from kids spilling any number of things, from adults spilling any number of things, and often from just repeatedly sitting in the same spot. Then after a couple of years, second hand stores won't take them and nobody on Craigslist wants something that's covered in chocolate pudding residue or dog saliva, even if it's only $50. So to the dump it will go.

The only times we think something at this price point makes sense are if you've found a sweet deal on a vintage piece, it's for an extra area that needs something to sit on but won't get wrecked by lots of wear, or for people on very modest budgets that definitely don't have cats. And if you must, our pick is always Ikea as they seem to be the best quality at that price point.

We suggest you splurge on your work horse pieces that you should have for decades and save on any trendy items that you might want to swap out throughout the year. Remember that fast and cheap usually leads to more fast and cheap again rather quickly. However, if you buy quality pieces and take care of them, you'll buy them far less often and save both in your longterm budget and hopefully keep more items out of landfills.

Interested in working with Birdhouse on your next design project? Learn about our Service Options or Tell Us More about your project!

October 25, 2019 - No Comments!

Full-Service Design Case Study: Tiny Kitchen Overhaul

When a young father came to us wanting help updating a small house in an older neighborhood in Omaha, NE we jumped at the challenge. And it was certainly a challenge since the kitchen was one of the weirdest layouts we've seen!

It's a little hard to tell the odd configuration from the before photo below, but the stairs to the master bedroom (formally the attic) are right off the kitchen and adjacent to the dining room. (Catch a peek of the stairs in the photo above.) Oh, and the kitchen is also a pass-through to the basement stairs and garage because the Universe really wanted to throw us a curve ball. So two deep, freestanding appliances right in the walkway was another issue. The budget did not accommodate for a major structural remodel so we had to get a little crafty trying to maximize the footprint as much as possible.

Our design plan included reconfiguring the space for better functionality, selecting all the finishes, procurement of those finishes, and then also coordinating construction and installation for the kitchen and dining room. The project moved fairly quickly thanks to a very organized and motivated homeowner who actually did all his own tile work under the supervision of his grandfather who was a master tile layer for decades. We're still impressed with how handy our client is!


  • With a mini "butler's pantry" in mind, we recessed the counter to widen the doorway area just enough that it didn’t feel claustrophobic anymore. And we chose to do floating shelves instead of an upper cabinet to keep the space more open.


  • The pass through now has a countertop island with seating and a little bit of extra storage carved out of the living room.
  • The refrigerator is in built-in cabinetry to the right of the sink.

  • We added better scaled, counter-depth appliances and took cabinetry up to the ceiling for extra storage and to make the space feel bigger. (In small spaces, the key is to go vertical.)
  • The previous layout had no real place for meal prep so we snuck in a couple of feet of countertop next to the cooktop.
  • A good place to add a little wow factor is in your cabinet hardware, especially if you don't have to get a ton of it. We selected real brass (heavy) decorative knobs and pulls to give the petite space an elevated feel.

  • Though our main focus was on function we didn't overlook style and sourced a printed porcelain floor tile reminiscent of cement tile but with more durability for the heavily trafficked area. Then we coordinated the look of the small dining room to the finishes happening a few feet away.

Before Images

This chandelier was NOT real crystal and not the right vibe.

Interested in learning more about the process and average budgets for Full-Service design?Get a better understanding HERE.

March 15, 2019 - No Comments!

Working With Birdhouse: How Our Process Works for You

Recent kitchen and dining room project.

I get it. Remodeling and design projects are often stressful. There's a mile-long to-do list to manage and endless design decisions to make. And most people find jumping into a sea of unknowns a bit overwhelming. But working with a designer and well-reviewed contractor can help you get that gorgeous kitchen completed faster, with less stress producing headaches along the way. So we wanted to outline what it’s like working with us, and how partnering with a designer can benefit your pocket book and your good night's sleep.

We like happy client calls - so having processes in place to avoid timeline delays and costly mistakes is what drives our model. Our philosophy is that the design process should be fun, but also useful for you. If we don't understand how to get from point A to dot Z on a project, the process is chaotic and often gets held up. What’s more, without a good plan in place, budgets are often much harder to manage since nobody really knows where to spend next. That kind of experience is more stressful, which totally sucks, and not what we want around here. But with a plan in place, you get your dream space while still staying within budget goals. 

We focus on 4 main areas of every project: Discovery + Creative, Budgeting + Procurement, Project Coordination, and Construction + Installation.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll dive deeper into each section and how they work for you. Let’s start this week with one of the best parts: Discovery + Creative.

Beginning mood board presented during the Discovery process. Project includes full-service interior design for a remote renovation project.


We need to learn as much as possible about all project goals before we do anything else. So first we ask a ton of questions. Is the project commercial or residential? What year was your house built? How do you need this space to function? Do you have a target demographic? Are you going to host awesome dinner parties and invite us over?

It’s important for us to get to know you, and your space, in order for us to truly deliver a design that works. This goes beyond throw pillows. It starts to answer how you want to live, work, and use the spaces we’re designing.

Every project at Birdhouse follows a beginning checklist that includes:

  • an initial interview/survey
  • style consultation
  • tour of project site for a million different floor plan and furniture measurements
  • plenty of reference photos
  • notes on what will benefit the well being of our clients' personal and professional lives

After we've wrapped up the Discovery portion (though, we'll continue to learn more as we go) it's time for what we all came here for: The Creative.


Presentation mood board for a residential full-service interior design project in Omaha, NE.


Example of working drawings during the Creative process for a kitchen design completed by Birdhouse in Albuquerque, NM. Project included floor plan reconfiguration, drawings and elevations, materials list and remote project coordination.

In this phase, plans are prepared for the design of the space along with presentation of materials including all schematic design. We play with samples and showcase all the interesting ways we can make a space feel really original.

What's schematic design, you ask?

  • mood boards
  • color scheme
  • product spec information
  • finish samples and installation schedule
  • floor plans
  • elevations and renderings
  • environmental branding

We focus on how the space functions and feels. Are we helping you create a cozy living room to host family hang out time? Or do you need a shared eating area for your commercial office? Each project needs a customized floor plan to accommodate traffic flow, user needs, and client / brand personality. We look to develop a specific layout of all the built-ins and furniture in materials that best fit the project.

Our process is a collaboration between Birdhouse, the team of people we've put together for the project, and our clients. We encourage plenty of feedback so we can work together to get a more detailed finished project. Often our plans include coordination with graphic designers, contractors, and architects when working as the creative director on larger scale remodeling or commercial projects.

Interested in hiring Birdhouse Design Studio for your next interior design or remodeling project? Let's get an initial consultation set up for you!