Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Foray with a Decorator!

So my family recently moved out to the suburbs and found ourselves in a much bigger house with rooms practically void of furniture. We're at the point where we don't want to use the yucky hand-me-down furniture that family members gave us and which we've complained about for years. This means we have a big project on our hands with lots of space to fill with furniture. And by the way, we've gotta make it look good while we're at it, right? No pressure!

I'd like to think I have a good eye when it comes to decorating, and I enjoy shopping and perusing the home magazines.... but when it comes to putting together whole rooms from scratch? Yikes! We want to make sure it's done right the first time so we don't waste money on mulligans! This is furniture we want to keep for a looong looong time, so no messing up, no going on faddish trends, and no second guessing myself! Enter the decorator.

Hiring a decorator was a scary proposition to me, as I had no idea how the process worked and didn't quite grasp the pay scheme. Everyone charged for consultation visits, so there was no chance to "interview" decorators before we needed to take out our checkbook and pay them. On top of that, some decorators charged by the hour, while others just took a percentage fee off the purchase price.

The way I went about it, was I made a list of decorators (mostly friends who were pros and worked for themselves or for very small design firms, as this way I knew they wouldn't cost an arm and a leg!!) and checked out their websites and fee schedules. Many furniture stores in the area offer design advice and even come out to your house to work with you, but that didn't seem to be the cheapest option as they would want the items purchased to come through their store and wouldn't work with me to find "steals" at the antique markets or discover old chairs with great bones to reupholster.

So far, I can absolutely see how it's going to save money in the long run. Not only am I reassured as to what will look good - not just now, but 15 years from now - but I'm not really paying much extra since the decorator gets a discount on most items. She has also helped me figure out what will be DURABLE. Yes, those are caps you see there because we have three kids. Messy ones at that, and if they destroy the furniture with their bumping and bruising and spilling, we'll have to do it all over again!

Here's one example - we needed a kitchen rug for under the breakfast table, but we were envisioning lots of spills of juice and spaghetti sauce! So what the decorator found was an awesome (and good looking!) rug made of polypropelene, which would not be stained and which we could practically wash down in the sink! Pretty cool, right? And we even found it at half the retail price, on sale at One Kings Lane!

We've also been able to hit sample sales at decorator-only stores for some amazing discounts! Check out the antique sideboard from England and large coffee table that we got 70% off retail price! (The rest of the room has yet to be taken care of - please excuse!)

What has also helped, is that we have given the decorator a stright budget along with a list of items that are a priority for us right now. If we can't do a room all at once with the budget we have, we've asked her to design two versions of the room - one for using the room with half the furniture while still making it look complete and well done, and the other for down the road when we have more money in the budget to buy extra chairs or do a floor plan with additional furniture.

And don't think I'm using a decorator to avoid being creative and getting my hands dirty - I am halfway through reupholstering a big chair *myself* and have redone all kinds of old furniture to help save money while having fun!!

I'm all for saving money, but when you're starting from scratch and wanting furniture to last for years and years down the road, I think you have to be smart with the way you do things. I'm thrilled for the extra help and advice to save me money in the long run. And I can't wait to share some pictures of what we decide upon!

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