How to make your Guests Feel at Home

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Since our homes are often filled with family and friends for the holidays, likely the hardest part of making your home feel welcoming to guests is finding the motivation to get started. I get it. Life gets busy, and preparing your guestroom is probably the last thing on your mind.

Often times people travel for the holidays and stay with friends and family. As a host you want your home to look beautiful, and welcoming to your overnight guests.  Here are a few helpful hints to remember when preparing for guests:

The Prep Work

Declutter

Do your best to de-clutter the room so your guests feel comfortable moving around the space. Check out our e-book “How to Organize and Declutter Your Home” for more help with this!   

Clean

Clean thoroughly. Clean the surface. Then, clean deeper. Give extra attention to corners and windows and hard-to- reach areas.

Bathroom

Just like in the bathroom, make clean and bright your goal. If you’ve successfully removed a good portion of personal possessions, you’ll find this task far easier to complete.

Give your bathroom the attention it deserves. Put away personal hygiene products. Scrub bathtubs, toilets, and shower walls. Make clean and bright your goal.

Bathroom Needs- Make sure whatever bathroom your guests are using is well stocked with toiletries and easy for them to use and replace if needed. It’s also nice to have extra toothbrushes, hair ties, toothpaste, etc. for guests who might have forgotten these items. Also, be sure to have plenty of towels and washcloths.  

Bedroom

Have a light on the nightstand next to the bed for those people who may be “night owls” or perhaps may need to get up during the night.

Lots of pillows and bedding: keep sheet sets together by placing a neatly folded set inside its matching pillowcase or, for a pretty and functional detail, tie the whole set with ribbon.

Provide a place for guests to unpack. Having an empty dresser is nice, but if that’s not possible or not something you want to encourage with your guests, be sure to leave some empty floor space or a resting place for your guests to easily open their luggage.

Provide privacy. This means doors, window treatments, etc. to help make the room more private.

Temperature controls- whether you provide a fan or heater (depending on where you live), be sure your guests are comfortable.

Kitchen

Kitchen utensils- including enough silverware for you and your family, but also enough for your guests too. Nothing's worse than running around your kitchen trying to find your guest a clean fork.

Entertain

If your guests are staying with you during your normal work week, it’s always nice to have a copy of your key made so they can come and go as they please.

To entertain your guests while you are at work or otherwise unable to entertain your guests yourself, I suggest making a list of local tourist attractions, or a list of your favorite local spots so they have something to do while you are away.


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How to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays

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Since the holiday are fast approaching us- check out my e-book How to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays” available for purchase on Amazon for only 99 cents! Here are a few key tips straight from my book to help jump start your holidays this season:

How to Decorate your Home for the Holidays

Decorating can be the most overwhelming part of design because there are so many options, and so many ways to go wrong. What you need to decide is what style do you really want? Sometimes even deciding what your style is can be the hardest part. Don’t worry, I am here to help guide you, no matter what holiday you celebrate.

Pick a Color Scheme

To start decorating your space for the holidays I suggest you pick a color scheme.

Below are a few of my favorite color schemes:

● Red and/or Green

● All Neutrals

● Blue and White

Here is a bonus tip:

Smells like Christmas!

Scents are one of the strongest memories we have, so if you want your Christmas memory to be a good one, I highly recommend buying a few candles (something mellow like vanilla, or something seasonal like “Christmas Wreath”), room spray, or even making your own room scent (boil water, cinnamon sticks, vanilla sticks, and sliced oranges) so your home smells like Christmas. Baking cookies also gives the aroma of the holiday cheer which will fill your home. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, having a home that smells nice is always a good idea!

Here is one happy readers review:

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What kind of Art you should hang in your house

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Have you ever thought about what kind of art would look best in your room? Or maybe you are trying to decided between several art options for your space. Let me give you a little advise:

  • Personal art (photos) are to remain in personal spaces: bedrooms only.

  • Pick two to three types of artwork; photography, oil, paper, acrylic, etc.

  • Now pick 5 colors that you like (I usually suggest one cool color (blue,green,purple) and one warm color (yellow, orange, red) along with 1 additional cool or warm color, and two neutral colors.

  • Find art work that has only the colors you have chosen and that are the type of artwork you have chosen. By doing this, you have created a color scheme for your home.

  • It is usually best to have neutral colored walls where you plan to hang your art, unless your artwork is only a neutral color (Neutral, Black, Grey, White, etc.).

  • Your frame is arguably one of the most import parts of your artwork. A rustic wooden frame can make a room feel casual, while a silver leaf frame with a double white matte can make a room look elegant. If you choose to get your artwork professionally framed, tell the framer what feeling you want your home to have- this will help him/her narrow down what options will best fit that feeling. And of course- consult a designer!

  • See my post [HERE]: the 5 best ways to display art

  • See my post [HERE]: the 10 best website to buy art

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Why quality furniture takes (so long!) 8+ weeks!

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This might surprise you, but often quality furniture can take 8 weeks or more to create and deliver. Some pieces can even take as much as 6 months! Shocking- I know, but let me explain. The main difference is in the quality of each element that goes into the manufacturing of all pieces used to make each furniture.  

For instance the construction of a sofa seat consists of many parts, but one of the main elements in a quality seat made with tempered springs, on an eight way tie, with both foam and down as the seat cushion. This eight way tieing is done by hand, which can take some time to accomplish. There are some lower quality furniture Manufacturers who will do a 5 way tie- this is not as high of a quality furniture pieces as the eight way, though it will take a little less time. 

If you are looking for a quality leather sofa, be sure you are looking at top grain leather. Genuine leather is a misleading label and often is the lowest quality of leather. Top grain leather is often dyed and usually by hand, so this also takes some time. 

The frame of a quality furniture piece will be made with kiln dried wood. Why? Because if you build a piece of furniture that has been made with almost any other treated wood, it will most likely bow and change shape over time as moisture escapes the wood over time. when wood is kiln dried it is highly unlikely it will warp or change shape since all the moisture has been removed from the wood. This process can take several days or even weeks depending on the type of wood.

Drawers and corners of furniture that are made with a detail called dovetailing are only found in quality pieces of furniture. Often lower quality manufacturers will simply nail and glue the corners of their furniture together because it takes less time and costs them less to manufacturer. The only problem is, the furniture pieces don’t last as long. 

There are several other elements that make a quality piece of furniture, but these are some of the easiest elements to be able to see when you are shopping for furniture. That being said, be aware that all of these quality elements are usually hand made, and take time. Because these elements take time and skilled personnel to make them, they will take a longer period of time to make.  

Designer Tip: Don’t be mislead by labels! Simply because it has a higher price tag doesn’t mean the furniture is a quality piece. For instance Restoration Hardware, though is very good at advertising and has some amazing photographers, be aware that not all of their furniture is made with these quality manufacturing elements. that’s not to say that all of their furniture is crap either, but just keep an eye out for details like the ones I listed above to determine what is worth your time and money, and which is not. 

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What you should know about retail furniture

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Retail furniture vendors like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, West Elm, etc. have always been a great source for the general public to purchase their furniture needs. However, being a designer, I want to let you in on a secret- almost none of these vendors make their own products. They buy their furniture from wholesalers around the world including China, India, and various other locations, often commissioning these manufacturers to make “exclusive” designs specifically for the retailers.

Ever wondered why the quality of one piece of furniture was so much better or worse than another at the same retail store? It’s probably because different manufacturers made them. Each manufacturer will have their own standards, own materials, own methods, etc. that will be different from the next. Some will be made with better materials, some not-so-much. Most retailers, while they might have “standards”, often times rarely enforce these standards at the manufacturing level, often producing less than high-quality furniture.

There are a few exceptions to this like Ethan Allen, a manufacturer and retailer who owns and runs their own manufacturing plants around the world, allowing them to have quality control over every item they sell.  

Before you dismiss all retail furniture - consider your lifestyle. All levels of furniture have a place in life, whether you have growing kids, young pets, or perhaps you are renting and don’t own your home yet, a lower level furniture purchase can be a perfect fit for your lifestyle - they are durable enough to survive a few years, but after some time, they will begin to show their flaws and you will want to start looking for a replacement for these, which often times is a perfect moment in life to considering buying a high quality piece- once the kids are old enough to not be jumping on the furniture or spilling their drinks and food, or once your pet is old enough to not scratch or chew on your furniture, or once you have purchased a home and have “settled down”.

Perhaps you are in a different phase of life completely, maybe you already own your home, and you are wanting quality pieces of furniture to last for many years to come. This is not the time to buy retail furniture! It might be tempting to, simply because retail furniture items are cheaper than custom or semi-custom pieces, but don’t be swayed- keep in mind you are purchasing furniture now that should last you the rest of your life- or longer. But, should you choose to ignore my advise, and want to purchase retail furniture, please be extremely careful- this could just be a waste of money, and in the end you could end up spending more than you would have if you just went with custom or semi-custom furniture from a quality manufacturer.

A great way to determine if you are buying quality furniture is to understand how furniture is made. See my blog post [HERE] that will tell you everything to look for when purchasing furniture. Also, you could simply ask the sales person in any retail store how their furniture is made and what makes it different from any other manufacturer. If they can’t answer this question, or if their responses are vague, wrong, misleading, or they don’t know, I would suggest you ask a manager or for another associate for assistance. This is usually a sign that this is not a quality furniture store. Also, beware, some associates will lie directly to your face simply to get a sale, so be sure to do your own homework. Often times the furniture you are investing in will last longer than the home you purchase, or the car you drive, so you want to make sure it is a quality investment.  

Designers have access to quality wholesalers and manufacturers that the public does not. And a good designer will have done the research on each of these manufacturers to have a better understanding of the quality of furnishings they produce and should be able to share this information with you.  

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Top 7 Questions to ask your Interior Designer before hiring them

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Every designer is different and they all run their businesses a little differently, but there are several questions that you need to ask every designer during every interview:

Start by saying “Let’s review your Contract(s) and make sure we are on the same page”:

1. What will you need from me before getting started?

2. How do you charge, and when will I be billed?

3. Please explain to me how your design process flows, and at what points you will need me most? (You may end up having several more questions after this question based on your designers responses).

4. When will you purchase my furniture/art/accessories?

5. When will the furniture/art/accessories be delivered, and by whom?

5. Will you be attending the deliveries? This is often referred to as the installation date(s) by designers.

6. How will you follow up with me after the installation?

7. When will I know the design process is completed?

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How to Determine Your Budget

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Let’s not focus on what you “should” spend, but instead what you are comfortable with. I like to call it value engineering- we can mix higher end items with lower end items- it all depends on where you want to invest your money. For instance if you like to entertain people and often have movie nights, I would suggest putting more a focus on a comfortable sofa and seating arrangement and less on accessories or art- we can find some great options at a fraction of the cost. Or if you like to surround yourself with well curated accessories, we can put more focus on these items, and less on the furniture in the room.

Now what would you feel comfortable investing into the purchase of your sofa? $10,000? $6,500? $3,000?

*** go through each item in the room- keep a running budget list going. Once you have gone through all large items in a room, add up all items- this is now your rough budget.***

 

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Avoid Common Furniture Mistakes

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Here is a list of common mistakes I see clients (before they hire me) make:

- window drapes are too short

- window drapes are mounted too low on the wall

- too short or too tall nightstands

- too short lamps

- Artwork is mounted too high on the wall

- artwork is too small or too large

- too many accessories

- under utilization of storage options

- ceiling lighting is too small

- too trendy

the list goes on, but these are some of the most common mistakes I see clients making. If you would like to better understand how to avoid these mistakes, check out my e-book "Everything You Need to Know About Interior Design" on Amazon and you will get every little "secret" I have on making your home mistake-free! Click HERE for my e-book.     

 

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Is my designer charging me too much?

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I get this question a lot. And the short answer is it depends. It depends on the scope of your project, the size of your house, the location, the market, if you want project management included in the designers fee, the contractors needed, etc. all of these factors will affect your designers fee. There’s no set standard fee for a designers services because there is no one project that is identical to another.

That may not be the answer you are looking for, so to be a little more specific, consider that most designers charge anywhere from $75-$1500 an hour. That will depend on your location, the designers experience and the scope of their work. If you are working on a commercial project (restaurant, office, etc), often times designers will charge a flat rate that can vary from $3/sf-$20/sf. 

A healthy budget for product is usually around 10% of the cost of your home. For instance if you bought a $100,000 home, you should expect to pay $10,000 in home goods. So if your designer is budgeting for right around 10% of the market value of your home, they are probably right on target. This 10% budget is a good example for any middle class family who is looking for quality pieces mixed with affordable pieces. I would suggest not going any lower than this, or you will be replacing your furniture far too often since cheap furniture will break down at much faster rate than any quality piece. You could also increase this budget signifanctlly if you are looking to purchase only heirloom quality furniture and accessories. But 10% should give you a good starting point for product price ranges. 

Not to mention a designer also has to consider their profit margins. In order for a designer to stay in business, they must have a profit margin. Asking someone to adjust their profit margins for you and your project simply because you believe they should make less on your project than they would be is not only rude but could be considered insulting. Would you ask your doctor to lower their profit margins on the prescription drug they are going to give you simply because you have already paid a fee to see them? Most of us don’t even think twice about this, so why would a designer be willing to negotiate with you on this? 

So so if you are concerned that your designee is charging you too much, take a look at;

1. The designer. How many years experience do they have? What qualifications do they have? Do they have any designations (ASID, CID, etc)? How many clients have they had? Are the fees they are charging reflective of this information?

2. Your budget. How much are you willing to spend? I’ve given you an outline of what to expect on furnishings and the hourly rate you can expect from a designer listed above, so what are you ready to spend your budget on? 

Other options you have:

I’ve had clients who are willing to pay for my services by the hour, but want to purchase the furniture at a later date due to budget constraints. Some designers can be flexible like this and work with your budget over a period of time. 

Another option is to ask your designer to only shop retail locations and you can purchase their furniture on your own. Keep in mind, with retail stores, their furnishings are fashionable, and can often be discontinued, so don’t wait too long to get that perfect sofa or table lamp, because it could be gone next week.  

I now only offer clients retail shopping lists through my online design service package, this way my clients can purchase at their leisure, whenever the budget allows. I feel that this takes a lot of the pressure off of the client-designer relationship and puts the client in charge of their finances, which most clients seem to enjoy.  

 

Every designer has their own way of running their business, and unless you ask for a breakdown of services versus product, you may think their overall fee is very high, but in actuality, when you break everything down, their services and product fees are probably pretty accurate- that is if you have a good designer who understands what they are doing.  

Even if I am not the designer for you, I want you to be armed with all the knowledge I can share with you, so you can make the best decision for you and your home.  

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Get more for your vacation rental!

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If you have a vacation rental, or are considering renting your home out as a vacation rental, hiring a designer could help you get top dollar! 

A Designer will help layout your home so that it functions at its best and feels welcoming. Often times when we live in a space for a long period of time, we often overlook little details that a designer could point out that might make a guest feel unwelcome. For instance, family photos can add a touch of personality to a home, but it can also make a guest feel unwelcome- as if they are staying in a room that belongs to someone else. While this might literally be the case, you don't want a paying guest to feel as if they are staying in someone else's room.   

Designers are great at making a room feel pulled together, but also welcoming. Many designers offer design only services and paid-for advise (I do!), in which they will share their professional opinion on your room, so you can get top dollar!  

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NEW SERVICES NOW AVAILABLE!

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New services are now available! I have been taking a break from client based services for several months so that I could focus on developing my education for my students, but I have completed the curriculum and have now opened the doors to new services! I am introducing two new services: Online Design and Decorating- so you can live anywhere in the U.S. and still get that "Krystin Krebs Interiors" signature style. I am also introducing "Design Advice" with me! You can shoot me an email and ask me all your burning questions about design, your space, colors, etc. and I will personally respond to you with all the knowledge, sources, and information that I have available.   

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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

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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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