Do you need “professional” help?
More than a few of us feel we do, especially when it comes to decorating our homes. We imagine how polished and pulled together our homes could be with a professional interior designer’s touch. And yet, there are many reasons why many of us hesitate to go this route. Will a decorator de-personalize our homes, giving it that generic model -home look? Will a decorator obscure our own personal vision for our home? Will a decorator cost a fortune?
These are all good questions to ask. Luckily today, however, there are more options than ever to get some professional help while still retaining a measure of control over the decorating process. So if you want to hire a decorator, but you want your place to still feel like home — your home — here are a few suggestions:
1) Bone up on design. Spend time checking out shelter magazines, online design blogs and all the rest. Many print shelter magazines also offer online websites with plenty of pictures of fantastic homes that can serve as inspiration. While it may be tempting to hand a whole project over to a decorator, (after all, that’s what you’re paying them for, right?) you’re unlikely to find a truly personalized solution to your decorating problems without taking some time yourself to assess what you’re after. Develop a file of inspiring interiors and analyze what these rooms have in common.
2) Consider hiring an “online” designer. There are more and more designers offering limited design services for just a few hundred dollars on the web. Submit a photo of your problem room, and the designers return a “mood board” to you, complete with the kinds of furnishings you might consider to inch your room into design glory. The beauty of this approach is that it is low-cost, and you need not feel bad if you opt to take very little of the designer’s advice. Many such designers also specialize in incorporating furniture and objects that a homeowner already owns. We’ve seen some pretty dramatic changes in cases where people have decided to go along with a designer’s suggestions.
3) Consider hiring a designer by the hour. Hiring a professional by the hour to tackle a specific design dilemma (for example, you’re not sure what type of couch would fit best in your current decor) is a simple way to maintain control over costs and the design direction of your home. A designer who focuses on very specific problems in your home still leaves plenty of room for you to add your own personal touch. You can also hire a designer just to leave you with sketches of ideas for various rooms in your home.
4) Go further afield for design input. Check out your local Design Center — many offer ”designers on call” to work with you on a specific project. Many furniture and home stores also offer design services that can give you some input on a design challenge. It’s a great way to get designer input while making less of a commitment.
5) Choose the art yourself. One of the most personal things you can do for your home is choose artwork. Once you cede that task to someone else, your home will never quite feel like yours. So when working with a decorator on a design project, feel free to get designer input, but don’t allow the decorator to have the last word on specific pieces that you choose, or you’ll risk filling your home with generic art that “matches” but that has no personal relevance. And by the way, most serious art collectors don’t match their paintings to the color of their furniture.
6) Turn to a designer when you DO know what you want. One of the myths of hiring an interior decorator is that it only happens when you have not the slightest idea what look you want in your home. But actually, the best success with designers happens when you know exactly the look you want, but you don’t know how to get it. If you’re in this situation, keep your eye open for rooms that reflect the look you like and find how who’s behind them. When you interview a decorator, look for someone who consistently realizes the kind of look you like. Don’t risk hiring a decorator who presents no evidence that they’ve ever attempted and achieved the look you’re after. A good interior designer will know where to go to get the look you want at the best price and quality.
7) Do SOME of what a designer suggests, but not necessarily EVERYTHING. Have you ever visited a designer show house? It’s a bit like visiting the make-up counter in the department store for a makeover. Every product out there can end up on your face, or in the case of your home, on your walls. So when working with a designer, remember that designers themselves, often need editing. Consider yourself the editor and simplify and pare down when an idea is obviously too frou-frou or over-the-top for your taste.