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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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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    What makes good furniture

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    How to determine what makes good furniture can be complicated, and lets be honest- it can be a costly mistake if you buy the wrong kind of wood or material. Here is a guide to help you with selecting the proper type of wood furniture for your home.  

    A little background: Wood furniture falls into three categories: solid wood, veneers, and particle board or composite wood.  

    Solid wood furniture is typically more expensive than other types and looks great, but can be susceptible to scratches and water rings. Veneers have an inexpensive wood base covered by several thin layers of better-quality wood. Because of the cheaper core, veneers aren’t as expensive as solid wood pieces. Particle board and composite wood pieces are made from a combination of wood pulp, plastics, and resin, basically the scraps of the furniture world. These are the cheapest type of wood furniture and can look decent, but won’t hold up for decades. 

    Open the drawers and cabinets. Make sure the drawer pulls all the way out, latches properly, and then shuts evenly. Make sure doors open, remain in an open position (instead of snapping closed while you’re trying to get something out of the cabinet), and shut again. Check the handles and knobs. They should fit tightly and not jiggle or turn. 

    Look for wood joined at ends and corners, not glued or nailed in. Known in the manufacturing world as wood joinery, these pieces are studier and can take more weight. Check out Basic Woodworking Joints from Wood Magazine to see examples. 

    The legs should be heavy, wood, and jointed to the frame of the sofa or chair, not nailed. Plastic, rubber, or metal legs don’t look as nice, can tear up your floors, and won’t hold up as well. Same goes for nailed-in wood legs. If you’re spending more than $1,000 on a sofa, look for one with a fifth leg in the middle. They provide extra support – you won’t find them on many cheaper sofas. 

    Quality furniture can often take more than 8 weeks because quality furniture takes time to make. And most furniture that takes 8 weeks or more is made to order, creating a much smaller carbon foot print on the planet. Where as cheaper furniture is ready made and can usually be delivered with a week, and is often shipped from warehouse that is storing these items, sometimes for long periods of time. Who knows what could have happened to that furniture between the time it was made and the time it is delivered. 

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    What is feng shui

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    According to Google “Feng Shui is a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy (qi), and whose favorable or unfavorable effects are taken into account when siting and designing buildings.”

    Feng shui is one of the basics of design which most designers learn about while in school, which studies the pshycology of human behavior within a room. This helps designers be able to identify the elements of feng shui that all create an atmosphere within a room. 

    Feng shui can sometimes include crystals and other elements that may seem a little “out-there”, but the important part of feng shui is not the elements added to a space, but how you feel within the space. In my personal opinion, I think adding crystals to a room can be a little “out-there”, but it all comes down to pschycology. If you believe that adding a crystal to your room will make you feel less stressed/have more money/have better health, etc. then you are giving the crystals more “power”, and it may work for you. 

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    How To Decorate Your Home for the Holidays E-Book

    Hi there everyone! I am going to shamelessly plug myself for this weeks blog post, so here it goes!

    Since the Holiday season is upon us, and I bet there are many of my readers who are hosting family or friends at their home, I wanted to remind you of two e-books that I wrote:

    How to Decorate Your Home for the Holidays (available on Amazon for $0.99!) and How to Make Your Guests Feel at Home (available on Amazon for $0.99!)

    These books are a very quick read with some visuals and some great ideas that you may not have thought about. We all know everyone gets very busy around this time of year, so grab one of my e-books today and take a little stress off your shoulders, and show your friends and family how much of a festive hostess you could be! 

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    Why Interior Designers Need Architects

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    This might seem like an obvious topic, but Interior Designers need Architects just as much as Architects need Interior Designers. Architects and Designers should function like two halves of one brain. The Architect plans out the structure of the building, consulting other professionals (Electrical Engineers, Structural Engineers, Plumbing Engineers, etc.) to make sure their designs will be structurally sound, while Designers make sure the space will function properly. Together Architects and Designer's can accomplish great things, but apart, they can often times over look certain areas outside of their expertise. This is why it is best to hire an Architect to create your structure and Construction Documents to build from, but also to consult a Designer to make sure the layout will function just as well inside as it will outside. 

    If you have never worked with an Architect or Designer before, think of the Architect as the person who is responsible for building the exterior of your home, making sure it will stand up and remain standing, and making sure your HVAC (Heating/Cooling), Plumbing, and Electricity are placed properly and will work their best. They are also responsible for making sure your home meets all required codes, and that the energy your home will use will have a minimal impact on your community (and your wallet). Designers are responsible for making sure the inside of your home will function to the best of its ability. For instance, you don't want your kitchen placed too far away from your garage because when you bring groceries home, you don't want to be dragging your grocery bags across your entire house or upstairs, etc. You also don't want to walk into a room that has all the light switches placed at the opposite side of the room. 

    So when you are starting your next big home project, be sure to consult both an Architect and a Designer to make sure your home is the best it can be.   

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    Why Architects Need Interior Designers

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    I decided to write this blog post because I strongly believe that more Interior Designers need to work with Architects, and more Architects need to work with Interior Designers. 

    This blog concept started when I began a new project of an existing penthouse suite and noticed that the Architecture in this unit was very abnormal. Once I began to place standard sized furniture into this floorplan, I noticed that the Architecture clearly had not been thought all the way through to the function of the space.    

    1.  I circled this area because in a Master Bedroom such as this, you generally want the furniture centered on each wall. For instance in this room the King Bed is placed on the center of one wall, and the dresser, with a TV is mounted on the opposite wall. This wall seems like a load bearing wall, so it is structural and can not be moved, however, it should have been framed flush with the structural beam so that the wall was flat and the dresser could be place on center with the bed. After all, if you were watching TV in bed, you don't want your head to be turned the entire time, that would be uncomfortable.     2. This is a junction box which is where the dining room lighting was intended to be. But based on the shape of the room, and the location of the cable for the TV, the layout as you see it here is the only way this room will function with the furniture provided. So why is this junction box so far away from where the dining room table is placed? An Architect clearly should have at least asked a designer to place some furniture in the floor plan before building this unit so that these details would have been thought out more.    3. This is another structural column, and though there is not much you can do about this, if this client wanted drapery, there would not be enough space for the drapes to pass between the column and the windows, which would create a light gap, and no one wants that. The only solution here is to do a shade. And I would highly suggest a motorized shade so that the client doesn't have to reach around this column to control the shade.    4. Why so many doors? Why not just one door for the bathroom and one for the bedroom? And how ugly this must look from outside the building, to see a pocket door that doesn't line up with the mullions of the window. Who wants to see the edge of a door frame? No one. Unfortunately this is another example of this design not being thought all the way through from concept to functional completion.   5. This room is a secondary master (usually intended for vacation homes shared by more than 1 family or multi-generational families) and while this room is intended for two adults to stay in this space, the room is a little too small. As you can see the closet doors are running into the nightstand, making this door unusable. Although we could remove the nightstand all together, and the room might function better, it is best to have balance (and equality) in a room meant for two people. Most nightstands are 24"-30" wide, while these are only 20" wide, the space is already pretty tight. Nightstands are usually 24"-30" because they are designed to have a table lamp on top to provide task lighting (for those late nights with your laptop or book), and most table lamps have a base 8"-24" in diameter. Another solution could have been to move the bed to the opposite wall, however it is bad feng-shui to have to turn your head to see who is coming into the room. The cable is also on the wall where the dresser is currently located which would be costly to move the cable to the opposing wall. This is another example of a room that wasn't clearly thought out. It should have been a little larger to allow for all the needed furniture.  

    1.  I circled this area because in a Master Bedroom such as this, you generally want the furniture centered on each wall. For instance in this room the King Bed is placed on the center of one wall, and the dresser, with a TV is mounted on the opposite wall. This wall seems like a load bearing wall, so it is structural and can not be moved, however, it should have been framed flush with the structural beam so that the wall was flat and the dresser could be place on center with the bed. After all, if you were watching TV in bed, you don't want your head to be turned the entire time, that would be uncomfortable.   

    2. This is a junction box which is where the dining room lighting was intended to be. But based on the shape of the room, and the location of the cable for the TV, the layout as you see it here is the only way this room will function with the furniture provided. So why is this junction box so far away from where the dining room table is placed? An Architect clearly should have at least asked a designer to place some furniture in the floor plan before building this unit so that these details would have been thought out more.  

    3. This is another structural column, and though there is not much you can do about this, if this client wanted drapery, there would not be enough space for the drapes to pass between the column and the windows, which would create a light gap, and no one wants that. The only solution here is to do a shade. And I would highly suggest a motorized shade so that the client doesn't have to reach around this column to control the shade.  

    4. Why so many doors? Why not just one door for the bathroom and one for the bedroom? And how ugly this must look from outside the building, to see a pocket door that doesn't line up with the mullions of the window. Who wants to see the edge of a door frame? No one. Unfortunately this is another example of this design not being thought all the way through from concept to functional completion. 

    5. This room is a secondary master (usually intended for vacation homes shared by more than 1 family or multi-generational families) and while this room is intended for two adults to stay in this space, the room is a little too small. As you can see the closet doors are running into the nightstand, making this door unusable. Although we could remove the nightstand all together, and the room might function better, it is best to have balance (and equality) in a room meant for two people. Most nightstands are 24"-30" wide, while these are only 20" wide, the space is already pretty tight. Nightstands are usually 24"-30" because they are designed to have a table lamp on top to provide task lighting (for those late nights with your laptop or book), and most table lamps have a base 8"-24" in diameter. Another solution could have been to move the bed to the opposite wall, however it is bad feng-shui to have to turn your head to see who is coming into the room. The cable is also on the wall where the dresser is currently located which would be costly to move the cable to the opposing wall. This is another example of a room that wasn't clearly thought out. It should have been a little larger to allow for all the needed furniture.  

    It is because of errors like this that Interior Designers are so crucial when building new homes, or remodels. No one wants to be surprised when their furniture can not fit in the room. After all, most people live in their homes for about 10 years (on average) before moving to another location, and they usually bring their existing furniture with them into their new space. So to all those who are considering moving or buying a new home, measure your furniture and make sure it fits in your home prior to purchasing!    

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