You Think You Can Be A Designer?

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Interior Designers might seem like their services are too expensive for what you are getting in return, but consider this, before dismissing an interior designers worth:

How much time would it take for you to measure your entire home? (Including the baseboards, window sill and trim, doors, door frames, distances from electrical outlets, switches, counter-top height, width, depth, floor length and width, stair riser height, etc.) Designers are pro's and they can do this in a matter or a couple hours or less depending on your home and designer's skill. 

How many phone calls are you willing to take during your work hour(s) or after from contractors, vendors, delivery personnel, etc? Do you know what to do if one of these people doesn't show up? Do you have someone else you can call to fill in for someone who may call out sick that day? Do you have someone who will be home when you are unable to be there to accept deliveries? Designers have all the resources they need, including people to receive packages when you can't be home. We all have busy lives, and adding one more responsibility to your plate might be a little too much.  

How much time do you have to track all your packages and follow up with vendors who don't follow through on their delivery dates? Designers often spend a good portion of their day tracking purchases for their clients, making sure all deliveries are on time, and if they are not, Designer's will handle the situation, often behind the scenes, so you don't even know what they are doing- creating more free time for you.  

Not only do designers do everything listed above, but they also have an education that helps them select the best materials for your home given your personal criteria. Got pets? No problem, designers can pick materials that will with-stand claws and paws. Got kids? No problem, designers will find stain resistant fabrics for you. Got antiques or family heirlooms? No problem, designers know what kind of window treatments you will need to keep them save and damage free (at least from the natural elements). 

This is why everyone needs a designer. Even if only for a few hours, be sure to make friends with your designer so you have someone to call in case you need some help! Don't be afraid, they wont bite you!  

 

 

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Home Design Mistakes : Downsizing

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The most common mistakes I see people make in their homes has to do with scale. I have seen countless clients downsizing and trying to bring their over-sized furniture with them, only to discover that none of it fits in their new home. When you downsize, you need to also downsize your furniture so that your space doesn't feel overwhelmed.

If you are considering downsizing make sure to measure your furniture and measure your new home before you start to move. There's nothing worse than carting an 11 foot sofa to your new home to find out it won't fit and it will have to sit outside until you can figure out what to do with it.

It might be worth the money to hire a designer to do this work for you as well. A designer should be able to measure your existing furniture and measure your new space and let you know what pieces you should take with you and what pieces you should sell or give away. 

Another rule of thumb is to only bring quality furniture with you. That table from IKEA should not come with you, there's no sense in keeping low quality furniture like this in your new home. When you downsize and move into a smaller home, the small details like the quality of furniture will become more apparent in your new home since there will be much more valuable real estate in a smaller floor-plan.       

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How to work with an Interior Designer Part 2

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Part 2: How Designers Charge

There are several ways that a designer might charge for their time, but there are generally two most common: by the hour, or by the project. This can get tricky because the hours a designer spends on your project will vary from project to project. I have seen some designers charge by the hour, but bill in "bundles".

For instance a designer might bill a client for 50 hours, and when these hours are around 40-45, the designer will let the client know how much time remains in their account. Should they want to purchase more time, they can buy an additional bundle.

Other designers might bill by the hour and send an invoice every week or every other week.

And then there are some designers who bill their clients based on the project. Most of the time, clients generally prefer this method so there are no "hidden" fees or questions about how many hours were spent on any particular part of a project. This method of billing is usually for the more seasoned designer as they will need to know how many hours they can allocate to the project, and must have a sense of what the client is expecting of them. 

Find out how your designer charges for their projects and see what is the best fit for you and your project. Be mindful of how long a project will take by asking a designer how much time they think your project will require. Also, be mindful of your own time. Do you want to spend 10 minutes talking with your designer on the phone about the exact shade of blue you want for your sofa? Or could that conversation wait and be combined with your other burning questions in a 30 minute meeting? 

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How to Work with an Interior Designer (when you have never worked with one before)

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PART 1

What you will need in advance:

- idea of what you want to accomplish. For instance, is your goal to have more seating for those family get togethers? Or is your goal to have a tranquil place for you to relax and do yoga? Or maybe you want a space that just feels tied together. Whatever your goal is, know what you want to accomplish. 

- know what your budget is, or at least what you would feel comfortable spending. Is $15,000 too much for a sofa? Is $5,000? If you don't know what your budget is, your designer should be able to help you define that, but be prepared to have a conversation about budget and what you feel comfortable spending. 

- have an idea of what you are attracted to. Make a pinterest or houzz board and be prepared to share these boards with your designer. This will not only help your designer narrow down your options for you, but it will also help you get a better idea of what your personal style is, and what you are or are not attracted to.   

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Do You Need an Interior Designer?

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So you have a home project, and you are considering hiring an Interior Designer, but do you really need one? It will all depend on what your goals are for your home. Interior Designers Usually Offer the following services:

  • Site assessments & design programming
  • Space planning
  • Product & material research
  • Product & material selections
  • Appliance & equipment selections
  • Plumbing fixture selections
  • Project administration
  • Order management
  • Delivery & scheduling
  • White-glove installation
  • Coordination with Allied Professionals & Consultants
  • Exterior residential designs
  • Site plans (based off existing survey)
  • Permit plans (Existing & Proposed)
  • Partition & furniture plans
  • Detailed kitchen & bath plans
  • Construction & demolition plans
  • Power & communication plans
  • Reflected ceiling plan
  • Interior elevations
  • Detail & section plans
  • 3D perspectives in colour renditions
  • In-house shop drawings (a specialty)
  • Specifications

And often times designer will even offer smaller services like paint selection, etc. for a small fee. Each person has a different goal for their home, some people don't like making decisions like these, so they hire a designer to cover all aspects of their project.

Other people would like to be involved through the entire process and would even like some DIY projects. You will want to know at least how much you would like to be involved in the process prior to hiring a designer. Based on your desire to be involved will affect how much you need a designer. 

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How To Tell Your Interior Decorator or Designer NO

The one question that I heard from so many people looking for an interior designer or decorator, is that they are afraid to hire a designer because they are afraid that a designer will take over their home and they won't know how to tell them no. I have one very simple answer, simply tell them how you feel.

If you feel a designer or decorator is taking over your home, and it no longer says "you", simply tell them that you feel they are not considering your needs and desires, and that your home no longer has your personality in it. A good designer will take this into account and adjust their approach. A not-so-good designer may not take this into account, in which case, feel free to fire them. Seriously- it may seem harsh, but there are plenty of other designers and decorators in the world, and your area that you can connect with. 

Working with a designer is like being in a relationship, when it's working, its great, but when it's not working, it's time to just cut the ties and let them go. So be sure to check in with yourself, and ask if the relationship you have with your designer or decorator is good for you. Becuase at the end of the day, YOU are the one who will have to live in your home, the designer simply gets to walk away from the project and move onto the next.     

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Drapes versus Curtains

So this might seem funny, but drapes are meant for windows, while curtains are meant for bath tub/ shower stalls. Drapes are usually made of softer fabrics like linens, silks, etc. Curtains usually are made of plastics, and other durable materials. 

Check out some of my favorite drapes and curtains below:

 

 

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What types of Artwork should you put in your Home

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There are many different types of artwork available for purchase from many different vendors including the following:

- Painting: Acrylic, Oil, Watercolor

- Photography

- Drawings: Pencil, Charcoal, Colored Pencils

- Print: Block Printing, Screen Printing,  

- Sculpture: Metal, Wood, Paper, - pretty much anything. 

Be sure to check out my previous blog posts:

My favorite places to shop for artwork!

The 5 Best Ways to Display Art

How to Use Art to Create a Color Pallete

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Whats the difference between a Barstool and a Counterstool?

I get asked this question alot, so let me first explain that the main difference between a barstool and a counterstool, is that barstools are taller than counterstools. Counterstools are meant for seating at a counter (often in the kitchen), barstools are meant for seating at a bartop which is higher than a countertop. 

 Devi Barstool

Devi Barstool

 Devi Counterstool

Devi Counterstool

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What are you paying a designer to do?

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What are you paying an interior designer to do?

 

Use their knowledge to design a room that functions at its best by Space planning

Make sure you furniture proportions are best for your space

Track shipments

Install and assemble furniture

Hire other professionals

Project management- they should have all the answers or know where to go to get them for you

Translator between you (the client) and the contractor or trades person.

Design your space to your liking by sourcing furniture that you like

Purchasing furniture while staying under budget

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How to pick the right finishes for your room

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Long gone are the days when bedrooms that were sold in matching sets were the most desirable look. Now, it often seems like it takes a professional (like me!) to pull together a room. 

Here are just a few helpful hints when selecting furniture:

Select three finishes that you enjoy. Do you like a high-gloss white lacquer? Or do you like dark walnut? If so, write a list of finishes you like. Now select three from this list and only purchase furniture in these finishes. Each room should have a mix of these finishes. If one room has more of one color, make the next room have more of one of the other two color options. 

If you aren't sure what finishes you like, go to a furniture store nearby and ask the sales person to tell you about the options they have available. I would suggest going to a store that will have more than one finish option for each item they show. For example Bassett Furniture, Restoration Hardware, sometimes Pottery Barn/West Elm/Macy's can have finish options. This should help give you an education on the types of finishes available in the market. From here, you will probably have a strong gut reaction either for or against each finish. Write these down, or keep a mental note about the ones you liked. 

For instance, were you drawn to oak finishes? Or did you not like the walnut options that you saw? Keep a list. 

From this list, note a light, medium, and dark option that you liked best. Use these as your three finishes to look for when shopping.     

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How to choose upholstered furniture

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Let your lifestyle determine what colors and fabrics you choose. For example, I have a large, hyper dog constantly climbing on the furniture. If I brought home a white suede couch, it would be torn apart and stained in minutes. If you have kids or pets, stick with dark colors and stain-resistant tough fabrics like linen or tweed. 

Stick to neutral colors for your bigger and more expensive pieces. Save bold colors for décor pieces. 

If you like firm sofas, look for one with traditional coiled springs. If you want a softer feel, go with zigzag coils. Before you buy, take off the cushions and press down on the base of the sofa. The coils should push down and spring back into place immediately. 

Look for firm cushions with a removable cover matching on both sides. Firm cushions hold up better over time. Fully covered cushions cost a bit more than ones with the pattern on one side and a plain white or tan backing, but they’ll last longer and wear evenly if you can flip them over every few months. Find removable covers that are easily washable.

 

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How to know the difference between a cocktail table and a coffee table

Ever wondered what Designers or people in the furniture business are talking about when they say "It's not a coffee table, its a cocktail table"? It's really very simple. Cocktail Tables are round, and Coffee Tables are square or rectangular.

Here are just a few of my favorite cocktail tables:

And here are a few of my favorite coffee tables:

Want to know the best dimensions of a coffee (or cocktail) table?  See my blog post: Best Height for your Coffee Table for more info.    

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What to do with an extra closet

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Got an extra closet that you don't know what to do with?

Try these ideas:

Convert you closet into an office nook with a desk and chair. 

Closet by the entry door? Try a bench with a couple pillows and some storage including coat hangers on the wall. 

Guest Bedroom Closets can also make a great headboard nook. Try something that will wow your guest like a pop of color on the wall or wallpaper.

Turn it into a reading nook with a chair, side table and bookcase. 

 

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How to Organize and De-clutter Your Home Part 5

How to Organize Your Home:

You should have a designated space to keep Emergency Information as well as Personal Information. If something were to happen to you, and your family needed access to these types of documents, you don’t want them to have to dig around through your desk, spending hours of precious time looking for what they need. Here are some of the items I suggest you keep in a safe place:

 

  • Marriage Certificate

  • Birth Certificate

  • Adoption Papers

  • Citizenship Records

  • Divorce Papers

  • House Deed

  • Mortgage Papers

  • Death Certificate

  • Automobile Titles

  • Service Papers

  • Leases /Contracts

  • Will

  • Patents and Copyrights  

  • Passports

  • Life Insurance Policy

  • Health Insurance Card (s)

  • Copy of your License

  • Medical Directives (should you not be able to speak on your own behalf, a medical directive will ensure your decisions are followed)

  • Emergency Medical Contacts (primary physician’s phone number, etc)

  • Medical Information (blood type, allergies, etc)

  • Up to date photo of everyone in your family, including your pets (in case someone goes missing)

  • Finger Prints

  • Pet Insurance

If security is a concern of yours, then store these documents in a safe, locked drawer, or in a safety deposit box. Here are the items I suggest you store in a secured space.

That wraps up our 5 part series of how to Organize and Declutter Your Home! Now is the time to buy my e-book on Amazon for a copy of your own list of items to consider when trying to organize and declutter your home. 

 

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    How to Organize and De-clutter Your Home Part 4

    Here is a Declutter Checklist for your entire home:

    Kitchen

    • Create Space for Every Item

    • Donate Mismatched Items (Dishes, Cups, etc)

    • Toss Old Coffee Mugs and any dishware with a stain

    • Limit Water Bottles

    • Add Drawer Dividers

    • Toss Stained, Mismatched or Broken Food Containers

    • Throw out all old Spices and Expired Foods

    Bathroom

    • Toss Old Shampoo/Body Lotion, etc. Bottles

    • Limit yourself to 2 shampoos/conditioner, lotions, etc.  

    • Limit hairstylers, and store them in a basket or under your sink- out of sight.

    • If it hasn’t been used in three months, toss it.

     

    Linen Closet:

    • Toss old towels and sheets that are stained or frayed

    • Toss towels and sheets that don’t match

     

    Office:

    • Tackle one drawer at a time.

    • Bundle like items together (Pens & Pencils, Envelopes, etc)

    • Shred Papers that are not needed

      • After 1 Month: Receipts, Deposit/ ATM slips, Reconciled Bank Statements

      • 1-3 Years: Paycheck Stubs, Mortgage Statements, Expired Insurance Records, Charity Donation Receipts

      • 7 Years: Tax Returns, W-2 & 1099, Medical Statements, Real Estate Tax Forms

    Your Closet:

    • Have you worn it in the last 6 months?

    • Will you wear it in the next two weeks?

    • If it is Broken/ Has any holes, will you get them fixed?

    • Does it fit well?

    • Would you buy it now?


    If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, then keep it, however if you answered “no” to any of these, then you should probably toss it.

     

    Check out the entire series on my e-book on Amazon Here:

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    How to Organize and De-clutter your Home Part 3

    How to De-clutter Your Home:

    The best way that I have found is to clear a space- possibly in another room, on the floor and dump out all the pieces (maybe it’s just a few drawers? Maybe it’s the whole kitchen?).

    Here is a starter list of things to get rid of:

    • Old or unread books and magazines

    • Expired Coupons

    • Outgrown Clothes

    • Expired Food

    • Mismatched or holey socks

    • Mismatched Storage Containers (having all the same type of storage containers makes it easier to stack on top of one another, creating more space)

    • Duplicate kitchen items

    • Expired Cleaning Supplies

    • Worn Towels

    • Worn Sheets

    • Broken Toys

    • Tools missing parts

    • Broken Jewelry

    • Old Mail

    • Expired Toiletries/Cosmetics

    • Unused Toiletries

    • Unused Toys/Sporting Equipment

    Want to learn more? Get my e-book available on Amazon:

     

     

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    How to Organize and Declutter Your Home Part 2

    How to De-clutter Your Home

    When you start to de-clutter a room, it can be very overwhelming. Don’t worry, we are going to take the and divide it into small sections. Start with one end of the room (Doesn’t matter where- Personally, I go left to right around the room from the entrance door, starting with the bottom section, then the middle section, and lastly the top section - I don’t know why, it’s just what I find easiest). Use the checklists in this step to decide what will stay and what will go.

    Tip: Divide and Conquer: Shelf dividers will instantly begin to add order by providing “zones” for each set of items. You can improvise with these solutions as well. For instance I use desk organizers in my kitchen cabinets to help separate dishes. I also use over the door closet shoe organizers to hold cleaning supplies.  Search Pinterest to find the solution that would best work for your situation.

    There are thousands of solutions to help you organize your home, it’s just a matter of personal preference and if these systems will fit in your space.

     

    To learn more, check out my e-book, available on Amazon:

     

     

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    How to Organize and Declutter Your Home Part 1

    Since it is a new year, you have probably made a new years resolution. Maybe going to the gym more? Maybe eating healthier? But have you thought about your home? Your home is where you spend most of your time, and you want it to feel relaxing, cozy, and inviting, but you can't do that when your space is filled with clutter! So I wanted to remind you of my e-book that I wrote:

    How to Organize and Declutter Your Home (available on Amazon for $0.99!)

     

    For the month of January I am going to share some of my secrets on how to organize and de-clutter your home!

    Lets start with the Organization:

    The Organization

    The First “real” step to organization is to define how you are going to decide on what you will keep or get rid of. You’ll want to start by creating three piles- sell it, donate it, keep it. Maybe you are going to have a yard sale after you’re done organizing your house? Then sell it. But if it doesn’t sell, donate it. We are trying to organize and declutter your life, not add more clutter from one area to another. Maybe you hate yard sales and will simply be donating everything? Or maybe you have something that isn’t worth selling? Donate it.

    The best way that I have found is to clear a space- possibly in another room, on the floor and dump out all the pieces (maybe it’s just a few drawers? Maybe it’s the whole kitchen?).

    Why? The chances are that you will find things you forgot you had, or maybe you will discover you have two of something you only need one of.

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    How Interior Designers Charge for their Services

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    There are several ways an Interior Designer can charge for their services, but there are two ways that are most common, and they are an hourly rate or flat fee rate. 

    An hourly rate, is just that, a fee that the designer charges for each hour spent on the project. This is the most common rate for residential design. I prefer not to bill clients at this rate because often times clients don't know or understand how many hours would be required, and sometimes neither does the designer.  For instance if I am working with a client to select a table lamp for their Master Bedroom, and one client is particularly indecisive, it might take me 20 hours researching, selecting, presenting (and re-presenting), phone calls, possibly in-person meeting, etc. to come to a decision, whereas another client who can make decisions faster, and does not need as much interaction with me, it might only take 2 hours of my time. So the client who takes 20 hours of my time will have a much higher bill than the client who only took 2 hours. This is where hourly rates get tricky. Designers can estimate their time, but it's just that; an estimate. A designer never really knows if a client will take 2 or 20 hours. If the 20-hour client is expecting a bill for 2 hours, and then receives a much higher bill than expected, often times the client will feel mislead and harbor resentment towards the designer for charging them so much for such a "small" change. This is why I stay away from hourly fees.

    The usual alternative is a flat fee. Which is exactly what it sounds like; one fee for all of a designers services for a project. This is the most common rate for commercial projects because it is easier to stick to a timeline (usually timelines are more important in commercial work than finding that perfect table lamp). Flat fees usually include an outline of services with a schedule. By providing a schedule the project often times stays on track better than an hourly fee project. Companies also usually like to see the total cost rather than to be surprised in the end with a much larger bill than expected.

    I find that using a flat fee rate combined with an hourly fee (for additional work beyond agreed upon scope of work) is best, which I outline in my agreement with clients. I prefer to break down the project into phases and bill the client for each of these phases. Each phase has a certain amount of revisions, meetings, phone time allowance, and estimated time spent on the project during that phase. Should a client need additional revisions, meetings, etc. or wants unlimited amount of time to chat on the phone, I then bill my clients at an additional hourly rate. This additional bill is then sent out bi-weekly to the client. I usually try to give a client an estimate on how many additional hours the project will need based on my experience on previous projects, the client's ability/rate to make decisions, and any other factors specific to the project (contractors/architects, spouses, other workloads, time frame, material availability, etc.). I feel that billing clients based on a flat fee is more transparent for the client, and often times makes the client feel like their needs are being met more efficiently than an hourly rate. However, time-is-money and I don't want to be taken advantage of, so I have set up parameters within each phase to protect myself and the client in case additional work is needed. I don't want a client to feel too limited, but I also don't want them to feel that they can monopolize my time. This way it is best for both the client and myself.  

            

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