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Jennifer Allwood | 30 Days of Prayer

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Years ago when I started my decorative painting business, I learned that there are just so many advantages for ME to have an interior designer involved in the faux finishing projects that I am doing. From a decorative painter’s point of view, any time you work with an interior designer,  it an instant go-between for myself and my client. It ends up making my job so much easier because the interior designer will have a vision for the overall project, they will know a lot of the correct terminology for my industry and they usually always have a history on the client.  Usually they are able to help us navigate projects smoothly and help with quick decision making.  Plus, I know if my client is paying for a designer, they will normally pay for my services as well.

On the flipside of that, I also use an interior designer in my own home to help me with some of my decorating.  **gasp**  . Lol.  No, I don’t do it all myself. I know what I am good at and what I struggle in.  So, I get help in the areas I need to!  I have been so lucky to have a very dear friend for many years who is an interior designer. She is the one who put together this gallery wall in my house. I have come to the conclusion that having a friend who is a designer has to be one of the best friendship perks ever!  Ha!

I understand most people don’t have friends who are designers, but if you are someone who is “stuck” on the decorating in your house…..I encourage you to find a reputable decorator and get help from them.  I have found over and over thru the years that many of my clients have amazing houses and have a budget for a decorator, yet they are hesitant to hire one. So, I always ask why and it seems that usually it is a few misconceptions such as:

1) That designers are too expensive for an average person’s budget.

2) That designers decorate too “stuffy”.

3) That designers will try to convince them to change their style.


Here is what I would like to say to that.  You have to find the RIGHT decorator.  There are so many talented, excellent decorators out there who will work within your budget and will decorate according to your taste.  There job, however, is to enlarge your ideas and perhaps suggest things to you that may not seem like something you would like initially.  Let them think outside of the box for you.  At the end of the day its your house and they don’t get to change anything in it without your permission, right?  But just listen to some ideas.  And trust their talent!  I always suggest that you ask your friends for referrals and do not be impressed by titles or letters behind names or design schools they attended (no offense to my designer friends and their credentials).  Be impressed by work they can show you they have done and the recommendations you get from people you trust.

When you contact a designer, here are the things that I feel should be discussed up front over the phone as not to waste their time or yours:

  • their fees (do they charge hourly or  by the project and do they add to their subcontractors charges and purchases you make?)
  • Lay out your expectations.  For example, if you have small children, it needs to be established up front that tall glass vases will not do and glass tables with corners aren’t an option.  Let them know if you want your home casual/ kid friendly or if you are trying to make it more formal.  If you just know you will never use a chaise lounge….then don’t let them talk you in to one.  A good designer will make a space fit YOUR FAMILY and YOUR NEEDS, not their personal taste.
  • Make sure they know your budget so they know what they have to work with.  No designer wants to find out that as they’ve been researching $5000 sofas that you had budgeted $500 for a sofa.  Just let them know up front so no one is wasting their time.
  • And finally, discuss your timeframe.  Establish your goals right away and be sure they can commit.

Many of the designers I work with in my client’s homes work on an hourly rate or a project rate.  I have had friends hire designers just to come in and just turn their furniture around.  I have had my designer friend come in and just steal from other rooms in my house to make one room look fully “done”.  I have had clients hire decorators just to come in to suggest what they need to do to make their home more sellable.  Designers can offer way more than just wall painting (that went out with sponge painting)!!!

I often recommend my clients contact a designer when I feel stumped or like a house just isn’t flowing.  I have a few other reasons I like to have my designer friend help me personally:

    • picking out exterior paint colors.  Aint nobody got time for a peach house….I always get help on exterior colors to save myself the pain and the cost of a bad color choice on my own house.  Trust me when I tell you picking out exterior colors is NOTHING like picking interior house colors.  Get help.
    • I would get help if you are “revamping” something.  Taking out a wall, changing an island configuration, designing a new master bath.
    • I get help furniture shopping.  Yes, a designer will charge you a fee for his/her time to shop with you, but usually you can get their discount on the furniture and the amount you saved on the furniture is enough to covers their fees.
    • I have help arranging furniture in my house.  I’m not good at it.  I would put every sofa up against a wall….thankfully, they know better.
    • I am not great at “vignettes” (little areas of plants on books with a lamp and a vase, etc).  Sure I do ok, but when my decorating friend comes over…..she just has that ability to pull it all together!
    • As soon as I can afford it, I’m having a designer do all of my Christmas decorating.  I just want to come home one day and it be done.

Look, I can’t even count how many times I have had clients do a project and it just turns out just…..well, not quite like they wanted.

On the flip side of that, I’ve had clients hire a decorator and wow……the project turns out so much better than they anticipated it would.  The designer offered great ideas, turned them on to new color combos, suggested different hardscapes for durability reason, etc. etc.  And why?  Well because that’s a decorator’s job…’s their specialty.  My job is to help people figure out how to make their walls and their rooms gorgeous.  Their jobs is to pull houses together, evaluate a family’s lifestyle and recommend furniture/colors/accessories based on their  client’s taste and life.

Very rarely have I convinced someone to try a decorator and they be disappointed.

Trust me on this.

So, I’d love to know.  Have you used a decorator LATELY and what’s been your experience?





One Comment

  • Regina Schultz says:

    Hi Jennifer!
    We are getting ready to custom build a new house in Johnson County, just outside Gardner, KS. I would love to seek out some help from a decorator on kitchen configuration, island design and flooring flow. Also, would love some help with outside colors! Any tips on finding the right decorator in our area who would be great with a Craftsman style home??
    Thanks for any input you might have!!! 🙂

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