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Secrets of Working With a Decorator

Working with an interior decorator is more accessible then one would think! Here I dispel the rumors and myths!

When people first hear that I am an Interior Decorator, the most common response is "I wish you could come to my house!" To which I instantly reply, "I can!" I hand them my card, invite them to call and then, for some, that is where the conversation ends.

I know many of those people who don't call really would like some decorating intervention but just don't think it is accessible for their home or their budget. In fact, I think the number one reason people do not hire a decorator is the misguided notion that only wealthy people work with a decorator.

So this blog is my attempt to get my bull-horn, stand up on a milk crate (or an amazingly upholstered ottoman) and dispel some of the misnomers about working with a decorator. In fact, I'll give you a little glimpse of what I do when I take on a new client to take some of the mystery out of it and show that working with a decorator is more accessible then one would think!

Step One: The introductory phone call. When a new client first comes to me, they explain their project, their ideas, their wishes, their past experiences, their marital problems, troubles with their in-laws, etc....(I kid about the last few but truthfully, the relationship between client and decorator does get very personal after a while) In this phone call I also explain a bit about the decorating process and how I work with my clients and of course, the budget. If it seems like working together would be a good fit, I email the client a questionnaire and have the client send me some snapshots of the room in preparation for our first meeting.

Step Two: In the second step, I come to meet the home for the first time. (And I say 'meet the home' because the home and I become very, very close over the process of decorating!) I take measurements and photos of the space in question. At this point, I lay out a plan of action and share some introductory ideas of which direction we should head-in to achieve the desired outcome.

Steps Three, Four and Five: These usually include a series of shopping hours, in which I shop both retail and trade-only vendors to find pieces needed for your space. Here is where one big myth will be laid to rest: as a decorator- I don't ONLY shop at high-end vendors. I shop everywhere from Target, to Pier 1, to the Salvation Army, to get you the piece you need at the price that works within your budget. I also receive designer discounts which always translates into savings for my clients.

The Final Steps: Of course, there are many factors involved in determining how long the project lasts and how many steps are involved but the final step is usually when I add my "Wow Factor!" Once all the major players have been addressed (paint, flooring, furniture plans, window treatments, etc) I shop the market for some very special accessories (artwork, pillows, accessories, etc) and then I come into the space and arrange them. This is usually where we have a big Oprah-moment- as the client comes home and is over whelmed with emotion over their room. We cry, we hug and then we move on to the next space that needs decorating. (Ok, that might be an over-dramatization- but you get the idea)

So what does it cost? This varies greatly on the project. I charge either by the hour or I charge a flat fee per project. Some projects are very small: I come in and assess what they have, what they need and select a few paint colors. Some projects are much larger in scope: I work with clients over the course of a year moving from one room to the next.

I think the most important take-away in all of this is that everyone should live in a space that they love. If you have difficulty achieving it yourself- seek the help of a professional. Even just a one-hour consultation might set you on the right track. And it might be more reasonable than you think!

For more information about our decorating services, please call Joanne Palumbo of Homestyling101 at (914)420-6506 or email us at homestyling101@yahoo.com 

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