So You Have Decided to Hire an Interior Decorator… Now What?

After you have made the decision to hire an Interior Decorator for whatever project you are undertaking, you will now be asking yourself and the decorator – what do we do now?
There are many different approaches to working with a decorator.  You, the client, should have continuous input and, in the end, the final say (if that is what you wish).

Usually when you first contact a decorator there are questions asked about the type of project you are undertaking and the scope of it. The discussion relating to your preferences, lifestyle, and ultimately the cost involved along the way helps the decorator determine what is needed for the project and what the budget will be.

Your decorator will discuss their fee, which is usually an hourly rate or, depending on the type of undertaking, could be a total project flat rate.  For example, if you were having an entire basement renovation and finishing, there could be a project fee based on the total amount of work involved.  For obvious reasons, this is best discussed at your home when outlining the scope of the project. Having discussed fee, the next step is an in-home consultation for which payment of said fee is due at the end of the consult.

Now you get to set up a meeting at your home with the decorator.  Many decorators offer the flexibility of evenings and weekends, however you may be required to meet during the daytime, much as you would if you had a repair person coming in or if you were going to the doctor.  This is something based entirely on your decorator’s schedule and method of work.

At the time of the consultation the decorator will sit down in your home with you and discuss your plans.  If you have ideas, these will be noted along with a brief outline of what ideas the decorator may be able to put forth at this initial meeting.  Depending on how much work is to be done now or in the future, the decorator should also be taking a walk through your home to get a feel for your lifestyle and how you use your space.  This is particularly important so as to be able to mesh the newly decorated space with the current surrounding rooms.

Ultimately an Interior Decorator can take you from discussions about space planning, sourcing furniture, fabric, floors, window coverings, accessories, artwork, paint selection, kitchen & bath plans to renovation ideas. They can also provide services, ideas and information on appropriate lighting, contracting trades, and project management.  You have the choice as to which part of their expertise you want to utilize!

Interior design bedroom

Your decorator will give you ideas of their own on how to approach any project.  Depending on your budget you may have a lot of flexibility here.  Some of the different methods of working with a decorator are as follows:

The decorator can take over the entire project from start to finish.  They will do up a floor plan, source furnishings, fabrics, window coverings, paint samples, arrange for trades to do any work involved and present this to you for your input and approval.  It will also be the responsibility of the decorator to act as the project manager.  This method works well for those who do not have the time to go about the business of “sourcing” and “managing the project with trades”.

Another method of working with a decorator is more hands on for the client. If you have the time and wish to be involved in the sourcing, etc. you can pay your decorator for their time to take you to different suppliers, especially those which are “trades only”, where you are able to find items which are not available through retail stores.  Your decorator can either arrange for trades or offer you some options, or you may in fact have someone you wish to use. For instance you may have a painter that you have used in the past and would prefer to use him/her.  On the other hand you may not have done any decorating and would require the recommendations from your Interior Decorator.  Decorators maintain a list of reliable trades they have used previously and only recommend those which give you confidence that the project will be handled correctly and to your satisfaction.

A third alternative is to have the decorator compile a selection of ideas for the space along with some samples and retail sources that are available to you, and then you can in turn,  take it from there.  This method works especially well with the “Do-it-Yourself” type client; someone who enjoys the entire project and wants to tackle it themselves, however they may require a little professional guidance from the decorator to get started.

Unique decor light

The above are only three ways of working with an Interior Decorator.  Everyone has their own business style.  The most important part of this entire process is to find someone you feel comfortable with; someone who listens to you and your ideas; someone who respects what you have to say; and can understand the type of look you would like, even if you cannot actually verbalize it in “design speak”; and ultimately someone who can offer cost effective alternatives to décor solutions.  After all, this person will be re-creating your personal space, which will be a reflection of you, so it really is essential to have a “good fit” between you and your decorator.

by Jeannette Wisby
Design Savvy

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