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Initial call out to consultation & preparing estimates 

DESIGN & presentation

We deliberate the ultimate design solutions for our clients


Procuring the ideal contractors and contracting them to the 

detailed scope of work


Ensuring timeous delivery and coordination for every project. 

Our Company Strategy & Procedure 


Dear Client


In an attempt to better understand our work strategy and ethics, we have outlined this document for your reference to our services and work principals.  It may seem quite intensive, but trust us – it is the very framework of our industry principals and corporate strategy as professional designers which best serves our clients. We prefer to be transparent about our firm and what we stand for.

Our Professional Services cover four main avenues in Interior design namely,

  • Architectural Concept (Collaborated with a Professional Architect/Team)

  • Interior Architecture  / Space Planning & Hard Finishes

  • Interior Design & Decorating (Furniture, decor and soft furnishing)

  • Customised / Bespoke Furniture Design & Manufacture (upholstery, cabinetry & case goods)

This document is a guide to our services and processes shedding light on the strategic way we work and what we have grown to establish as our professional methodology. We trust it will be both informative and effective in aiding you in your decision for appointment of our firm as your preferred designers.


The appraisal process is geared towards establishing what the total project budget should be, and how it would be broken down. Together with the client we create a design brief and scope of works. If we are building, we collaborate with the architects and together we assess the site, work out functional requirements and create a notional floor plan. We clarify cost vs quality expectations with our client, and refer to rule-of-thumb square metre interior build rates gleaned from our professional experience for finishes to match the standards of a client’s expectations and budget. With this information, we calculate a detailed build estimate for new installations on finishes, a design quote, project management quote, a timeline (if not accompanied by a professional team of architects) and a payment schedule. All this information is assembled into an interior design agreement between the client and designer.



An initial call out fee will be quoted to procure a brief in a session of approx 1-5 hours dependant on the size of the project. This varies between R 500 p/hr and R 900 p/hr depending on the size of the scope of work.


A further meeting of 2-4 hours may follow the initial call out to answer any questions, this is included as part of the call out fee. In the event a call out is out of town, the designers will submit a formal quote including all travel conditions etc for the clients expense. Pro rata consulting work is also available until a contract is signed and this is quoted at R 900.00 p/hour or part thereof, but varies depending on the scope of work.

DESIGN FEES (on appointment)

We charge a design fee for this service, payable upfront in full or in part as quoted. This covers our research, intellectual property on themed concepts, design, mood boards, space planning and layouts, look book and inspirational concepts, sampling, resources and creative influence of the project. You will receive a furniture plan, layouts and mood boards or sample boards for consideration and a scope of work and budget estimate for the scope of work.


A scope of work document is the detailed scope of all the project requires to be completed from start to finish. This document houses all our details and specifications to follow for the works of the project. It also assists in identifying the nature of the project and it’s relevant contractors.  The scope of work is subject to change with additional costs throughout the project as it affects the quotes procured and contractors signed.


Essentially we have two types of appointment in this service: Direct and Inclusive Contracting Solutions. The two vary substantially and with good reason.


Besides your design fees, we also charge a percentage of the interior design build estimate for commission earned. This percentage varies depending on the size and scope of each project and is related to the amount of time it will take to complete each stage of the process. In this option, we do not retain trade discounts on building and finishes. We would rather treat build costs transparently and be on be the same side as our clients, negotiating for the best prices possible. Note this is only for direct appointments on Architectural, Construction or Space Planning projects, and ensures we remain fair on value and quality. Instead we charge a commission fee based on a percentage of the interior build estimate, unless otherwise stipulated this is not a Project Coordination Fee. Project management & coordination is estimated at approx 10% of the project depending on the value of the work and the level of work required. 

Fees are negotiated and fixed in the appraisal phase. We do not increase our fees if the build costs are higher than estimated at the end of a project. Fees are quoted per project and would only increase if the agreed scope of works increases (or decreases substantially leaving us with a shortfall on the original agreement.

Payments on Coordination or commissions are staged to match project milestones and deliverables throughout the duration of the project. Specified Design Fees are payable as quoted.


In this event, our firm are the contractors and have undertaken a team of trusted sub-contractors to do the work on our behalf. How do you know you have an inclusive contract with us? Simply put.. If you receive a building quote in any form from CKW LIFESTYLE, then we are the main contractors and have likely included reasonable margins and a commission for our project management because in effect we are running the risk on the project, sourcing materials and various sub contractors as a contract with our client, and we are carrying the risk of warranty and financial fees etc. Our client pays us and we in turn pay our sub contractors. But there is no exposure or agreement with our contractors and the client. 

In this case the client is not privy to supplier’s quotes etc and vice versa of our contractors who are not privy to our client’s agreements with us. These contractors are signed with us and are liable to our subcontractor’s agreements.  This solution works well where client’s are not available to manage their own building projects like retail installations and where domestic projects are simpler and easier to manage in house…much like minor renovations with a specialist team of contractors where a commission is purely there as a project fee, NOT a margin. In some instances charging a commission as a markup is simply not profitable for the work involved.  


There is no fixed commission for Design & Decorating Projects. Especially those which do not involve major construction work. Where such is required we rely on the understanding of our clients that this commission will be billed for alterations, structural improvements and finishes ONLY… not on decorating.

The only commissions applicable to this project category are the reasonable commissions earned on purchasing goods from retailers for a client or on auction, especially by our own sourcing. This commission structure is 25% of the total bill of purchases of this nature up to R 100K , 20% up to R 250 K, and so on. We will always confirm this before an auction or substantial purchase anyhow.

Furthermore, the client will receive a written quote from us as the designers for the supply of all wallpaper, rugs, accessories, furniture, décor and furnishings as the main supplier. Clients will not be expected to pay suppliers directly unless so agreed because in most cases our trade suppliers do not accept third party payments from our clients unless special arrangements and terms are applicable. Suppliers here are our strict intellectual property along with design ideas and concepts of the designer at all times. This includes the supply of all bespoke or special ordered furniture for custom manufacturing. Besides, many of our specialists do not work with the public and are exclusive to the trade.


Upon delivery of the work and all the deliverables to the project we may quote a setup or styling fee. This is to cover time of the creative crew, installers and project team spent in oversight of the installations and techniques required to finish the project. It is a stylist’s fees and not seen as project management. The stylists will assemble artworks, accessories, florals, lighting, rugs and artefacts to enhance the overall finish of the project. This is a Midas touch often needed to take a space from being a handsome interior, to a stylish home. Scented candles, florals and accentual items are introduced and will be billed for upon a client’s approval of them.

A retainer may be needed to cover basic expenses. We often use this service in styling a clients home for events, special occasions or just daily living where client’s want that extra finishing touch. As stylish event coordinators too, we often employ this service to enhance the sensory experiences of all our interiors. It is an added service available to all our clients upon installations too.


In the end, there  is only one understanding- the one we have signed together. Our word is our honour and we do everything in our power to keep it. In design concept phase you will sign an agreement with us outlining our design agreements. In Procurement phase or Supply  phase, we will outline an agreement with our terms and conditions which are the framework to our sale and project management agreements. The prices and estimates you approve are the basis of this agreement and we prefer to remain discreet, professional and fixed to the final decisions you make or where you have amended items on a variation order. No other costs from other suppliers and members of our trade will apply after the fact. No other negotiations to costs will be considered after the acceptance documents are signed or deposits are received. Cancellations of items or changes are subject to further costs on the client’s account. It is for this purpose we urge you to be thorough in your final decisions to prevent any misunderstandings or embarrassments later down the line. We are committed to ensuring the quality is acceptable and if not, we will rectify the issue at our discretion. We are not in the refund business, especially where clients change their mind or the direction of the project, so its best to make clear decisions every step of the way.


Great design doesn’t just happen out of the blue, it is an informed, in depth process into our client’s business, identity, product offering, customers, competition, location, lifestyles and aspirational precedents. We submerge ourselves in our client’s world, looking for insights that can be used to build an appropriate and inspiring design concept that expresses the deepest essence of our client’s unique identity. We present our research to our client and take careful note of what we both resonate with so that the future design, no matter how innovative or unexpected, still fits comfortably with the client.


This is probably the most intangible, dream phase but what we believe to be the most important part of a successful design project. It gives a new creation vision, depth and power. How does it happen? It comes from critical thinking about the research material and the insights gleaned in the process of sharing our research with the client. It’s about combining ideas and inspiration to fit the new context that the project exists within. It’s about imagining ways to practically express the intangible aspects of our client’s identity in novel three-dimensional spaces and objects. It is a deliberation and exchange of ideas and concepts with our clients to get their input on the concepts and finishes suggested and how it appeals and suits them. It is NOT simply a process of throwing pretty things together and hoping for a pleasing outcome. We are trained, respected and experienced professionals who apply our very exceptional set of skills to your project to ensure you get the very best, most pleasing and well thought out results. It takes hours procuring these concepts and putting them together and 30-40% of the design fee is based on this phase.


The design and development process grounds the design concept. We take great pride in detailed drawings and 3D modelling an entire project from the building through to the bespoke elements and creating walkthroughs or perspective drawings for sourced furniture, finishes and lighting. Whilst 3D modelling is time consuming, there is no better way to test out and refine design concepts, and ensure that everything fits well together. By photo-realistically rendering our 3D models, we are also able to communicate our designs including the finishes and lighting accurately to our clients so that they know exactly what to expect before the interior is built. Not all client’s opt for this but in the event of a custom product it is highly advised.


Our 25 + years of innovative design has given our practice a depth of practical knowledge and experience to be able to collaborate and guide our various skilled consultants, contractors, CNC fabricators, artisans, trades, engineers and furniture manufacturers, in executing both our simple and ground-breaking design features as close to our design intent as possible. We provide appropriate technical drawings, schedules, specifications and documentation. Drawings for various authorities such as Council submissions, Liquor licensing, Engineers, Architects, Health and Safety, Signage, Fire, and Heritage are also developed in collaboration with specialist consultants in these fields. These documents and technical drawings are usually averaged at approx 10-15% of the project costs in design fees. 


We request and negotiate quotations for the construction, purchasing and installation of the various aspects of the interior, from our extensive network of trustworthy suppliers. We assemble the various quotes into a complete, accurate cost and a detailed timeline ensuring that the project remains on budget and within the agreed timeframe. Occasionally things will need to be simplified, omitted or redesigned to meet the agreed budget or client's expectations, and in the highly unlikely event something goes wrong… we have you covered. We not only represent our quality, but our commitment to our clients too.


The collection of accounting and time management software and systems that we use to manage the complete project, from appraisal to handover, assists our team to manage the procurement process by helping us keep track of the various drawing submissions, purchase orders, supplier deliveries, supplier invoices, staged supplier payments and customer invoices, financial tracking and payments. An admin fee is often charged for managing this back office process on larger projects. This includes a fixed std contract fee.


Our dedicated project manager/s ensure that deadlines and quality standards are met through clear communication and regular factory and site meetings with all suppliers and contractors – all the while keeping our client informed of the progress on a regular basis. It is vital that our project management is effective to ensure that the project is completed successfully and to ensure that our business is profitable. Rates for project management averaging 10% of the cost of the works. 


Final installation is a potentially nerve-wrecking process. We minimise this stress by our project manager and designers being fully present to coordinate the deliveries and supervise the installation.

A comprehensive snag list of outstanding items and quality issues is compiled and corrected as quickly and as conveniently for the client as possible. There will likely be a styling attendance fee for these professionals (see Stylist Fees) on set up with crew. Snag lists are created at  provisional handover pending final handover. Snag issues are attended to before sign off and final handover.


Once snagging is complete and our client is happy, the project is signed off and handed over with relevant maintenance and care instructions. We also make ourselves available for any post-handover changes or additions at our regular hourly rates.


Caring for your investment is a prescribed service and we run maintenance contracts for some of our clients where we regularly maintain, care for and clean their interior design elements. This includes staff training in the knowledge and expertise of maintaining fabrics, drapes, rugs, artefacts etc. We know that we are only as good as our last project, or our next recommendation and that most of our future business will come from repeat clients and word of mouth. So, we play fair and do everything we can to keep our clients happy. As with any relationship – it’s a two way street. We expect to be treated fairly and honestly too. This only benefits all parties in the end. After two and a half decades in design in South Africa, there is very little we have not seen or experienced. We encourage you to be open and transparent with us while we work hard to make you happy.


Once the client has settled into their space, we may employ a professional photographer and sometimes a videographer to shoot the interior and have our content specialist write up a press release and send it out to the local, national and global design media as well as our own social media channels. This content is shared freely with our clients. We also enter our top projects into various design competitions, but never disclose our client profiles, unless otherwise agreed. All this ensures success for ourselves and in the end serves our clients’s purposes too, whilst keeping them and their lifestyle in total confidence.


We wish to thank you for taking the time to consider us as your preferred design team. Our team are committed, steadfast and dependable and we pride ourselves in a hands on, thorough approach to our work. We look forward to welcoming you to the CKW Lifestyle family.

With Compliments 

Craig K. Whitehead

(CKW Lifestyle Associates PTY Ltd)

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