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Nervous about hiring a decorator, don't be.

When one thinks of hiring a decorator, images of celebrities or "the folks on the hill" with the fancy house talking with a snooty decorator come to mind. Granted there may be plenty of those scenarios out there, but that is not the case with JB Designs. Working with a decorator should be a natural process that involves a close working relationship with someone who is relatable and understands your style and objective while providing trustworthy advice on how to achieve your goals. Being prepared will help ease any apprehension or nervousness about inviting a decorator into your home. Once the decorator arrives, your instincts will tell you if this is the person who you can work with easily to bring your dream space to life. Just after setting up your initial consultation, see this article below for some good recommendations on some things that you will want to think about and pull together to help your first meeting get off to a running start.

How To Work With An Interior Decorator Or Designer

by Kristi Linauer

Hiring an interior decorator or designer is a big decision. Most people who hire a decorator for the first time don’t really have any idea what to expect, and this can lead to a great deal of anxiety. Before you find yourself in that situation, read through these suggestions to get the most out of your experience.

1. Be prepared!

Hiring a decorator or designer doesn’t mean that you’re completely off the hook! There is plenty for you to do, even before your very first meeting.

Know your style:

Before you meet with your decorator for the first time, it is important that you at least have a vague idea of what your preferred decorating style is. If you meet with your decorator without even this most basic information, he or she will be forced to spend time–and your money–trying to narrow down your style. You will save money if you have a general idea of the direction you’re wanting to go with the style of your home.

Know your colors:

Just like knowing your style, knowing your colors will also save you money in the end. Of course, you don’t have to have your exact color palette chosen before your meeting with your decorator; but at least have an idea of what types of colors you enjoy. Do you like dark jewel tones? Pastels? Do you prefer bright colors, or more subdued colors? Again, you don’t have to know the exact colors you want to use. Your decorator will help you with that. But he or she will need a jumping off point, and only you can provide that.

Bring examples:

The easiest way to find your personal style and preferred colors is to spend a couple of hours flipping through magazines. Don’t labor over each and every picture you see. In fact, I generally encourage clients to make this a very quick exercise. Flip through the magazines pretty quickly, and if you see something you like, tear out the page or mark it for reference. Even if you’re not able to pinpoint exactly why you like a certain picture, this information will be useful for your decorator.

2. Be Realistic!

I, just like every other creative and crafty American woman, absolutely love HGTV. I could spend hours upon hours watching that channel and gathering great inspirational ideas for my home.

However, one thing that I really dislike about HGTV is that it has given most people a completely unrealistic expectation of what it’s like to work with a decorator or designer, and of how much their money can buy. So…let’s get real.

Be realistic with your expectations:

On televisions shows, we see a decorator meeting with a new client one time, and then a week later, the decorator shows up with a complete plan for that client’s home, including detailed drawings, selections for materials, finishes, fabrics, etc., and everything is presented clearly and neatly on a beautifully-framed presentation board. Of course that’s the way it happens–IT’S TELEVISION!

But now let’s get real. Although I have heard that there are decorators out there who go to this trouble for each client, I have never met one personally. In the real world, you probably won’t ever be presented with a nicely framed presentation board with the entire design for your room or home. And trust me…you wouldn’t WANT that! Considering that most decorators and designers charge by the hour, the cost for one of those beautiful boards would be far more than you’d want to pay for such a thing.

Instead, your decorator will work through these decisions with you, and it will most definitely take more than a week (unless your project is quite small).

Be realistic with your budget:

Probably the biggest issue that I face with new clients is an unrealistic budget. And again, I think we have HGTV and other decorating shows to thank for this.

On television, we see terribly plain rooms being transformed into beautifully decorated spaces on budgets of $1000 or less. However, if you contact a decorator and expect the same thing in your home, you’re likely to hear some muffled laughter on the other end of the line.

So why can they do it on television, but you can’t? The answer is quite simple–LABOR. On television, their entire budgets are generally used for materials. They can do this because all of the labor is free to the homeowner. They have a carpenter who works free of charge to create the needed pieces of furniture for the room. There’s the decorator or designer who works free of charge to develop the design concept for the room, and make all of the selections. And then, there are the assistants who work free of charge to run the errands and do all of the behind-the-scenes tasks. In addition, the free designer, along with the assistants, generally take on other roles, such as painter, drapery fabricator, and more.

Now cut to the real world, where your $1000 not only has to pay for materials, furniture, and accessories, but it also has to pay your decorator, your carpenter, your interior painter, your drapery fabricator, your tile installer, etc. The list can go on and on. When you look at it in the proper perspective, you can see that it’s pretty impossible to hire an interior decorator and end up with a beautifully decorated room on a budget of $1000.

Be realistic with your timeline:

November is my least favorite month of the year related to work. Why? Because that’s when I get the most phone calls from people wanting their home redecorated before their family comes for Thanksgiving! When I get these phone calls, it’s generally a good indication that they’ve been watching too much HGTV, where rooms are transformed in 30 minutes.

In reality, decorating even one room can take two months or more. Why? Because good design takes time. It may take you and your decorator two weeks or longer to really solidify a plan for your room. Once the decisions are made, orders must be placed. Custom or special-order furniture can take up to eight weeks to be delivered. Custom draperies can take six to eight weeks for completion. In the meantime, there are other workers who must be scheduled, including painters, flooring installers, and more.

So if you’re planning on having your project completed for a special event or holiday, contact your decorator several months in advance.

3. Trust your decorator/designer:

If you’ve gone to the trouble to find an interior decorator that you feel you can work with, then let her work her magic.

I’ve had several clients in the past who have hired me, only to question each decision that I make, and to stop me from carrying out the full design plan. This type of working relationship will only lead to frustration for both you and your decorator.

Keep in mind that your decorator has the ability to visualize the completed project, and veering from her design plan could lead to a less than desirable outcome.

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