Jeff is a Certified Interior Decorator & Redesigner, Real Estate Stager and Color Specifier. His award-winning work has been featured in numerous publications including From House to Home™ & Home Improvement™ as well as other local and online media sources. He is a three time recipient of the Houzz.com 'Best in Service' Award. He lives in Crystal Lake, IL and has been serving the greater Chicago area since 2004.
Many calls we receive are from potential clients who admit they’ve never worked with an interior decorator and so, aren’t sure how it works or what to expect. Part of that initial conversation is explaining how we help & how we charge for our services, hopefully helping to alleviate some of their uncertainty.
Working with a design professional shouldn’t be intimidating or mysterious. Their help should elevate your design and bring a trained, experienced and valuable second opinion to the process, hopefully saving stress, time and money.
If you think you might need some design help, but are still on the fence about making the call, we’d like to share our process at Decor Designs, so you might better understand the steps we follow and how we collaborate with our clients on every project:
ONE- HELP DEFINE THE “PROBLEM”
Offer a Complimentary 15-20 Minute Phone Consultation
Determine our Client’s Wants & Needs
Answer Initial Questions
TWO- DISCOVER BY LISTENING
Meet & Greet/ In-Person Consultation
Determine if We are a Good Fit
Get to Know our Client, Their Family & Space
Budget & Time Frame
Brainstorm Initial Ideas
Complete Design Questionnaire (as needed)
THREE- DESIGN & OFFER SOLUTIONS
Discuss In-Depth Ideas & Concepts
Share Space Plans & Story Boards (as applicable)
Plan our Budget Allocation & Investment Strategy
FOUR- SOLICIT FEEDBACK
Improve Accuracy of Finished Design Concepts
Insure Meeting our Client’s Intended Goals
Review and Approve Plans
Complete Decorating Agreement
Accept a Deposit (if required)
FIVE- PLAN, SOURCE & ORDER
Begin Behind the Scenes WorK
Source & Order Materials
Track Orders & Deliveries (as needed)
SIX- IMPLEMENT PLANS & IMPROVEMENTS
Realize the Design Concept
Provide Guidance in Selection of Necessary Contractors
While every job is different, the process is essentially the same. From beginning to end, our clients are involved in the changes happening in their home. So, they continue to control the journey without any unexpected surprises at the end.
Don’t let the unknown or never having worked with a design professional keep you from enjoying a space that is everything you dreamed it could be. Beautifully-designed spaces aren’t reserved for the rich and famous. Our goal is and always has been to demystify the process and to help elevate our client’s decor to the next level.
Hopefully, by explaining what to expect, we’ll be getting a call from you very soon.
Happy Decorating from Decor Designs, Inc. 815-245-2433
The folks at HGTV have a new show, Life Under Renovation. According to their website, “Five extraordinary families… capture the real-life experience of renovating with all the struggles and successes that lead to breathtaking reveals.” Working on various renovations with clients over the years and having survived a few ourselves, we definitely understand the “struggles and successes” involved. Here are a few thoughts and pics from a recent bathroom renovation we helped design and implement.
NEED VS WANT…. that’s always the dilemma. Do you need a new kitchen or bathroom? In the strictest sense, probably not. “If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” is a common argument. But, as we often tell clients, kitchens and bathrooms are usually, “tired in 10 years, dated in 15 and dead after 20!”
Paint and other cosmetic touchups can definitely buy you some time. However, like you’d get rid of a 20-year-old sofa, there comes a time when you need to “re-furnish” your kitchens and baths. Current styles and your own taste will likely have changed in two decades. Keeping up with those changes is easier when you do it a little at a time. Everyone knows, renovated kitchens and baths help maintain your home’s value. Rather than waiting to renovate just before selling, why not do it sooner so you can enjoy the changes too?
Whether you’re just redecorating a room or doing a full-on renovation, it’s always “ugly before it’s pretty.” There’s no way around it. Here are some helpful tips:
Plan your work and work your plan. The more you think about and plan in advance, the more smoothly the entire process will go. Good planning helps speed up the renovation and minimize the amount of construction ‘ugly’ you endure.
Work with a contractor who communicates well, answers questions, listens to your concerns and who pays attention to detail. Put things in writing so there’s no misunderstanding.
Coordinate with your contractors and order every single element in advance so it’s on-hand BEFORE demo day. Yes, there are bound to be unexpected issues. But, the last thing you want is to get into your project only to realize you don’t have one little thing which brings your project to a protracted halt.
Assume you’ll be a little over time and budget. The unexpected happens. Job scope- creep happens. If you factor in a little wiggle room, you’ll take the unexpected in stride.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Construction is not an exact science. As much as you want it to be perfect, if you look closely enough, you’ll always find something that isn’t.
PLANS & PREP:
Now you’re ready to begin your life under renovation.
PHASE 1 – DEMO
As ugly as it sounds, demo is somehow therapeutic and goes surprisingly quickly. Like decorating a Christmas tree, it takes much longer to put up than take down. Depending on the scope of your renovation, a couple workers can have your space stripped down to the studs within a few hours. The raw potential of your space will be laid bare and any hidden issues will be exposed.
PHASE 2- INFRASTRUCTURE
With a clean slate, it’s time for any behind-the-scenes changes. Infrastructure isn’t pretty but it’s the necessary, next step. If you’re adding new walls, now they can be framed. Plumbing and electrical upgrades follow soon after. Once complete, drywall additions and repairs can happen along with surface prep for tiling and painting.
PHASE 3- FLOORING AND WALL TILE
Finally, the pretty can really get under way. Flooring changes and tile work are a time consuming and expensive part of any kitchen or bath project. Avoid the temptation to skip these changes. Both create a fresh new palette for everything that follows.
PHASE 4- PAINT
Now that your flooring and tile are done, fresh paint finishes the backdrop for the “furniture” phase of renovation. Light and bright paint colors contrast nicely with darker cabinets and other fixtures. While more saturated colors enhance white cabinets, appliances and trim.
PHASE 5- CABINETS & COUNTERTOPS
Time to add the “furniture”. Cabinets and countertops are the closest thing to furniture you have in a kitchen or bathroom. Custom cabinetry requires some planning to make sure you have the right combination of doors and drawers to suit your day-to-day use of the room. If you are making substantial changes, especially in a kitchen, working with a professional specializing in kitchen design can help you maximize every aspect of your new design.
It’s not uncommon to have a slight pause in your progress now. Custom countertops are measured once the base cabinets are installed. Depending on your source, fabrication can take 10 days or more before they’re ready to be installed. NOTE: Countertop suppliers are NOT plumbers. They will usually attach your new sink to the countertop. But, you’ll need a plumber to hook up the supply lines and drains.
PHASE 6- FIXTURES
By now, you should really be able to see your dream coming to life. And while you might think you can coast to the finish line, the last phase is just as important as the first. The fixtures and finishes bring function to your refreshed space. In addition to being useful, faucets, tub fillers, shower heads and controls, toilets, tubs, shower doors, lighting, cabinet hardware and more all bring personality and pizzazz to your space as well.
PHASE 7- FINISHING TOUCHES
Last, but not least, the finishing touches are the icing on the cake. As with any other space, accessories are a crucial add that give the room its unique personality. From artwork, to kitchen & bath accessories, towels and bath mats, to rugs and more, you finally have a chance to add softness, pops of color and cohesiveness to your creation. Repeating bedroom colors in an adjoining bath or family room colors in the kitchen will make your new space feel like it belongs to the rest of the home and has been there all along.
While renovations can be overwhelming, you can help by taking time to formulate a detailed plan and following it, step by step. Knowing what to expect, along the way, can help you avoid surprises. And before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful, new space to enjoy.
Here’s to new spaces and a happier life under renovation. Decor Designs, Inc. 815-245-2433
What do you call the biggest bedroom in your home? If you’re like me, you’ve always called it the “Master Bedroom”. Most of us use that label probably without even knowing how or when it became the go-to designation.
According to an article in the New York Times, “The first recorded usage of “master bedroom” seems to have been in a 1926 Modern Homes catalog by Sears, Roebuck and Co. The pamphlet offered potential buyers a kit they could use to build their own homes. A “master’s bedroom” was referenced in the second-floor description of the most expensive home in the catalog, but not in the floor plan itself. Before this reference, most floor plans used the word “chamber” when referring to bedrooms.”
As you might’ve heard, there’s been a lot of discussion of late, in both real estate and decorating circles, about the use of the term “Master” as it refers to the biggest bedroom in a home. Some feel the term “Master” has racist and/or sexist undertones and is, therefore, no longer appropriate.
So, the search is on for a more politically-correct term which respects those views. Some have chosen “Primary Bedroom” as the replacement. Others have opted for “Owner’s Bedroom”. Personally, I’m not convinced all the hubbub is necessary; especially since there’s no absolute correlation between the word “master” (in a pejorative sense) and its use to describe this space in a home.
However, as the writer Maya Angelou famously observed, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I’m sure time will tell whether this everyday label endures or evolves.
Speaking of “knowing better” and “doing better”, we wanted to share a few pictures of a Whatever-We’re-Going-To-Call-It Bedroom transformation we just finished in Woodstock. Over the last 10 years, we’ve done numerous projects in this home. From a new living room to a restyled family room, a new kitchen eating area to new light fixtures, flooring and more, we’ve helped update and keep the home stylish & current, all except for the biggest bedroom.
It’s actually funny how many homes we visit where most everything is relatively updated except for the Owner’s suite. Why? Since we spend almost a third of our lives in bed, it would stand to reason we’d want nice bedrooms. Of course, some might say, if your eyes are closed, it doesn’t matter. To that, we’d argue, at some point, you’re going to wake up! What view do you want when you open your eyes every day?
Over the years, we’ve gently coaxed this particular client into letting us get our hands on the Primary Bedroom. Finally, last Fall, we were given the go-ahead to work our magic on one of the last, untouched areas of the home. Needless to say, dated, oak furniture had to go as did the pink & purple walls. New carpet and paint provided a neutral, updated canvas for new furniture, window panels, artwork, lighting and accessories.
Now, this Master/Primary/Owner’s Bedroom isn’t just updated, but is also a great reflection on its owner AND something he’s happy to see first thing, every morning, when he wakes up.
So, regardless of what words we use to label the biggest bedroom in our homes, let’s all agree that words themselves are simply words. Actions always speak louder than words. And when we know better, we do better. In this case, our satisfied client and his faithful cat, knew better enough to finally give this bedroom the love and attention it deserved. And we’re happy they let us help in the process.
If you’ve overlooked your Biggest Bedroom for far too long, give us a call. Happy ” ? ” Bedroom Decorating from Decor Designs. 815-245-2433
Working with younger families is one our greatest joys. Most are first-time home buyers. Many have little experience decorating. And some are already busy raising children who can easily distract from home improvement projects. Two recent projects are perfect examples.
The first couple, from Crystal Lake, have lived in their beautiful, new home for several years. While the rooms were functional, they lacked the finishing touches which help any “house” feel more like “home”. The right furnishing, of course, are always the first step in building a space. And while it’s one of the most important elements, by itself, furniture can’t create a beautifully-styled and useful space with character and personality.
We were asked for help selecting a media cabinet & other storage solutions for the great room for their growing family. We were also charged with layering in finishing touches including repurposing and reusing their collection of artwork and a few, sentimental accessories.
As with all our clients, we met with them to discuss how they use the spaces. We asked what items felt missing as well as what they had and what they wanted to help finish them. After finding a new media cabinet and bookcases, a toy trunk, additional lighting, pillows, throws, artwork and accessories, we came to style the family room, kitchen, home office and foyer staircase.
GREAT ROOM BEFORE
GREAT ROOM AFTER
After a day of tweaking furniture placement, hanging artwork and adding layers, the owners came home for the “reveal”. They were amazed to see how we’d skillfully managed to reuse and merge their existing decor with the new items. They said they loved how everything felt new and different yet “them” all at the same time. They realized just how important the little details are in creating a cozy, finished space.
GREAT ROOM BEFORE
GREAT ROOM AFTER
HOME OFFICE BEFORE
HOME OFFICE AFTER
FOYER STAIRS BEFORE
Our second family, also with young children, was anxious to achieve similar results in their new home. They’d only lived in their Lake In The Hills residence a few months before giving us a call. Upsizing, they needed a lot more to fully furnish their new space. They also needed new window coverings, art and accessories to help finish them.
Between working from home and caring from young children, they knew it would be challenging to make real progress without professional help. Fortunately for us, a work colleague and former client of ours suggested they give us a call.
FAMILY ROOM BEFORE
FAMILY ROOM AFTER
HOME OFFICE BEFORE
HOME OFFICE AFTER
POWDER ROOM BEFORE
POWDER ROOM AFTER
While it might look fast & easy on TV, decorating an entire home takes time. Planning every detail is a critical part of the process and often happens behind the scenes. Each room has to be furnished to fit its various function(s) before other layers can be added. Taking enough time at the beginning helps ensure the perfect blend of form & function.
For younger families, our goal is to always give each space enough attention to feel finished. But we also like to leave enough room so the owner’s can personalize and make it even more “their own”, over time, if they choose.
Once we’d planned the spaces, ordered furniture and had it delivered, we were able to pick window treatments to coordinate with the new look. After the homeowners installed those, our team arrived with everything else. We worked almost an entire day on the living room and family room, foyer and powder room, dining room and kitchen, layering in artwork, rugs, lighting, greenery and accessories.
LIVING ROOM AFTER
DINING ROOM AFTER
Needless to say, our second family was equally happy with their completed spaces. From the bare minimum to fully furnished and decorated, they now have a more beautiful and functional first floor. With summer just around the corner, they can turn their attention to more important activities like enjoying their home and sharing it with family and friends.
As we said, decorating for young families is always a treat. Helping them fast forward on their decorating journey allows them be able to enjoy a beautiful home much sooner than might be the norm and also saves them money, time and frustration.
Happy Decorating from Decor Designs, 815-245-2433.
As a guy, in what most assume is a predominately female industry, it’s easy to find oneself competing against certain stereotypes. Fortunately, creativity isn’t limited to a single gender, anymore than every element of interior design is fundamentally “girly”.
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great family in Wauconda, IL to help pull together a brand new look in their Family Room. During their initial consultation, it was obvious these DIYers had already been hard at work. Customizing their primary living space, they’d already added a new, stacked-stone fireplace & mantel, built-in cabinetry and recessed lighting in the ceiling.
After New Fireplace & Built Ins
As I got to know them and their vision for the space, I made several additional “structural” suggestions including floating shelves on either side of the stacked stone to balance the fireplace and give us a place for “things”. I also suggested repainting the room, moving the dark, accent color from the window to the fireplace wall to help unify the focal point and accentuate the stone & shelving. I recommended black quartz for the cabinet tops as well as painting the cabinetry and mantel white to coordinate with the black tv and fireplace surround. Finally, to showcase their hard work, the homeowners wanted to replace all the furniture in the long, narrow space as well, keeping in mind it needed to be family and pet friendly.
After bouncing around a few ideas and creating a space plan to maximize seating, we decided on a new sectional sofa and console table, pair of swivel, club chairs and table, a leather ottoman as well as a new area rug, window treatments, lighting, botanicals, artwork and a few, new accessories.
Family Room Before
Family Room After
Family Room Before
Family Room After
Once all the furniture had been delivered, and we’d found every little detail we needed, I spent a few hours styling the space & layering in everything that gives a room personality and brings it to life. With tonal, greige neutrals and pops of warm white & blue, the end result is family (and family dog) approved.
While cleaning up, we were chatting about how nice everything looked and how we looked forward to working together on future projects. As I gathered my tools getting ready to leave, one of the owners added, “You’re the Queen”. Caught slightly off guard, but without thinking much about it, I replied, “Well, wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been called that!” We all died laughing when I realized she was talking about the dog, lounging like royalty on the nearby recliner, not me.
Family Room After
As I said before, stereotypes exist for a reason. The family pet might have been the “Queen” in this particular instance. But, if being called “the Queen” of decorating is the worst I’m ever called, I’ll take it!
In life, a good sense of humor is just as important as good decorating. Here’s to the best of both whether for a dog, a queen or anyone in between. Happy Regal Decorating from Decor Designs, Inc. 815-245-2433
A lot has changed in the last year. The world has been turned on end as we’ve adapted our modern way of life to the challenges of, what seems like, a medieval pandemic. Among other things, our patience has been tried as many of the things we thought we understood (and probably took for granted) have changed. Home improvements have always seemed to take twice as long and cost twice as much as we plan. But few, if any of us, have experience renovating during a pandemic.
Navy Pier in Winter
Chicago & Lake Shore Dr
We started this particular project last February, in downtown Chicago. Our new clients had purchased a 39th floor, 2-bedroom condo in historic Lake Point Tower. With gorgeous views and everything The Windy City has to offer at their feet, our clients planned a complete renovation of the condo during the Winter months of 2020 so they’d be ready in time to enjoy dinners out, museums, and concerts in the park by Summer. Then… along came Covid.
Kitchen Counter Before
Kitchen Counter After
Dining Room With Fractured Prism Wallpaper
The ink had barely dried on our contract before lockdowns went into effect. With the uncertainty of how long the closures would last, we used the time to work remotely, deciding on every detail from flooring to cabinets, fixtures, finishes and furnishings. That way, since construction was deemed “essential”, the trades could continue working while we planned and purchased the rest.
Guest Bath Before
Guest Bath After
Master Bath Before
Master Bath After
Fast forward a couple months as things slowly reopen. Having shopped exclusively online during the lockdown, we were finally able to meet our clients again, in person, to actually see specific pieces, test their comfort, verify fabrics, colors etc… and place orders.
Dramatically increased demand coupled with raw material & supply chain issues ensued. Fortunately, our clients weren’t selling another property; so they were able to stay in that home while construction continued and we waited on new furnishings. New flooring, kitchen cabinets, appliances, vanities, lighting and fixtures we gradually delivered and installed. And still, we waited on our custom furniture orders.
As stores slowly reopened, we could focus on the layers needed to give the space the “personality” our clients wanted. We’d planned our “look” around a few pieces of artwork our clients already owned and wanted to repurpose. Much of what our clients wanted to incorporate had been acquired from international travels. So, our challenge was to blend a more contemporary design and furnishings with more eclectic, colorful art and accessories.
We planned for neutral, greige walls throughout to highlight the unobstructed views of the lake and city as well as to serve as our backdrop for the pops of color in both artwork and accessories. Playing off of the primary & jewel tones, especially gold, we bought accent pillows and a few other key pieces to compliment the artwork and tie the space together. For a punch of visual interest a gold-veined, prism wallpaper accent wall was installed in the dining area.
Dining Room Corner Before
Dining Room Corner After
Dining Room & Living Room Before
Dining Room & Living Room After
In November, after months of waiting, and with some final construction still underway, we were finally able to see our progress and how closely the newly delivered furniture matched our plan. No matter how right things look on paper, the look and feel of a space is difficult to capture in two dimensions. On site, we could see the need for a few extra pieces to fine tune and finish the spaces.
Master Bedroom Before
Master Bedroom After
Master Bedroom Before
Master Bedroom After
Through the holidays, we took advantage of the downtime to order the remaining pieces & wait for them to be delivered. We also made sure we picked up all the small details that make a house a home so we’d be ready when “styling day” came after the New Year.
Boys Room Before
Boys Room After
Last week, almost exactly one year after we started, we spent a few hours working our magic to finally put the finishing touches on the renovations and decorating plans we started 12 months prior. To say our clients are relieved to have the lengthy project behind them would be an understatement. But, as they say, good things always come to those who wait. With any luck, their amazing patience and understanding while we were renovating during pandemic will be rewarded with many fun times and happy memories in their beautiful, new home away from home.
Happy Renovating from Decor Designs, 815-245-2433.
Decorating trends are ever-changing; that’s why we call them trends. From industry influencers to global events (like a pandemic) to new innovations, lots of factors influence them. As with life, it seems just when you’ve figured out all the (decorating) answers, they’re hell-bent to change the questions.
Thank goodness, trends in home decor change somewhat more slowly and less radically than those in fashion and other industries. But change they do. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that the look and feel of “home” are more important than ever. Keeping your home updated is good, not only for the ongoing health of your investment, but your mental health & happiness too!
As you’re planning goals for the New Year, keeping abreast of decorating trends and implementing a few will prove time & money well spent. Here are some of the top trends we’ve been seeing in 2020 and which appear to have lasting power well into the New Year:
DARK & MOODY, FULLY-SATURATED COLORS
Image Courtesy of Sherwin Williams
Image Courtesy of Pinterest
LIVE PLANTS & HERBS
Image Courtesy of Home Depot
BURLED WOOD ACCENTS
Image Courtesy of Pinterest
“LIFE AS ART” WALL HANGINGS
Image Courtesy of Homedit
HAND DRAWN IMAGES & PRINTS
Image Courtesy of World Market
ECLECTIC ACCENTS & CONVERSATION PIECES
Image Courtesy of Pinterest
BOLD TILE PATTERNS
Image Courtesy of Wayfair
NATURAL WOOD ACCENTS
Image Courtesy of Houzz
Image Courtesy of Citrus Sleep
The Covid pandemic and our stay-at-home efforts to slow it have forced us to re-envision our homes and how we use them. Trends have followed. Dark saturated colors give a much needed hug. Live plants and wood accents bring the outdoors inside and connect us with nature. Collectibles and statement accents stimulate conversation & evoke good memories. Hand-drawn art pieces channel the renewed creativity that has helped pass the time. And, of course, sustainable materials are ever-important as we chase trends yet do our part to help protect our environment.
So, as we look forward to 2021 and the promise of new, better beginnings, continue to think of your home as the sanctuary that it is. By staying somewhat on trend, your home not only maintains its visual and monetary health. Your mental health will get a boost as well. Both are great resolutions!
Happy New Year & Trendy Decorating from Decor Designs, Inc. 815-245-2433
It’s the end of October and another Halloween is just around the corner. Yea right… as if 2020 could get much scarier. From worldwide pandemics to out-of-control forest fires, invading murder hornets to nasty elections, this year has been pretty doggone terrifying even without our favorite, bone-chilling holiday.
Speaking of masked holidays, working in a client’s home can be a lot like trick-or-treat. Sometimes we’re treated to spaces which aren’t all that frightening. Others are so hair-raising, the Bates Motel would be a welcomed alternative. Of course, the truth is most really aren’t that bad. The good bones are there. They’re only hidden behind an all-to-familiar disguise.
Recently, we helped style a Crystal Lake couple’s master bedroom & en suite bath. This extra-large bedroom offered plenty of possibilities. As often happens, too many choices can actually be more frightening, making confident decorating decisions more difficult. All of the “bones”, from wall color to furnishings were already good. The problem was less-than-optimal furniture placement and a simple lack of finishing touches.
After the consultation, we started sourcing the “treats” we needed to help finish the space. For sure, we needed greenery, artwork, window treatments, rug, ottoman and a few other finishing touches to fill out the large space. While we were hunting, our homeowners got busy, following our recommendations, re-arranging furniture to make better use of the space and to make it feel more cozy. Finally, we were back to finish treating our clients to the tricks of the trade.
On one hand, it’s easy to think of bones as being scary. On the other, good bones are the foundation and building blocks for any improvements. Good decorating begins with good “bones”. Luckily for us, that’s just what our clients had.
After a few hours layering and mixing the old with the new, the master bedroom space came alive with more personality, polish and pizazz. Fleshing out the “bones” was all it took to make this master bedroom more masterful and our owners “loved it”.
As scary as 2020 has been, it’s always good to keep our fears and frustrations in perspective. For every negative, there’s a positive. That applies to decorating as well. So if the bones of your decorating project are giving you a fright, why not give us a call. It might just be a scary mask hiding the potential and good bones in your space.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN & HAPPY DECORATING FROM DECOR DESIGNS… 815-245-2433
They say, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” I’m not sure who they are, but they’re right! It’s definitely easier to assume things are better over there than they are over here. So, we drive ourselves crazy searching for perceived perfection whether it truly exists or not.
Interior design is an industry fraught with assumption, stigma and misinformation and it’s easy to see why. Homeowners are inundated with images of immaculate, perfectly-styled homes on tv and in print. Looking at those picture-perfect homes, one might be convinced the people living there have greener “grass” than most. One might also assume that “look” is only reserved for the rich & famous. One might even believe their stuff could never look as good as those peoples does. But, the worst assumption of all is that interior designers cost too much money for the “Average Joe”. Convincing everyday homeowners that they too can afford, benefit from and enjoy the services of an interior decorator is one of the biggest hurdles in the business.
The truth is, working with a decorator or designer can often save homeowners almost as much as they spend on design services. Whether it’s helping prevent costly mistakes or simply speeding up the process and affirming good choices, working with a decorating pro is no different than working with any other home improvement expert. If you don’t know how or simply don’t have the time, working with an interior designer is no different than hiring a painter, carpenter, electrician or any trade.
In an effort to demystify the process, we thought it might be fun to show you the behind the scenes of the interior design process and how it works for us at Decor Designs. Yes, every designer will do things a little differently. But, at the end of the day, we all get to the same finish line… the creation of a functional and beautifully-styled space our clients are proud to call home.
If you’ll indulge us for a few minutes more, we’ll show you what we call, “The Ugly Before It’s Pretty Of Interior Design.”
First and foremost, getting to know our clients helps insure success and satisfaction with our work. After all, we are decorating spaces for others, not ourselves. Understanding our client’s wants & needs helps create a strong foundation for everything that follows. We start that process with a FREE 15-Min phone consultation. While just the “tip of the iceberg” in many cases, we can quickly determine what services our potential clients are seeking and if we can provide them.
After the initial phone conversation, and if our clients feel comfortable moving forward, we dig a little deeper into the likes, dislikes, wants, needs and goals of the job. Sometimes, we email a Design Questionnaire to our clients. The survey not only gives us more detailed information but also inspires clients to give additional thought to their design choices and those we’ll eventually make together.
The last and most important step in our fact-finding mission is an on-site, face-to-face consultation with our clients. Pictures and floor plans are helpful. But nothing beats meeting our clients in their homes to get a true, first-hand sense of the family’s personality and lifestyle as well as a feel for the spaces we’ll be addressing.
Some people might be hesitant to work with a designer because of how intimate the process has to be. Having your home & decorating “probed”, in depth, can feeling a little violating for sure. But establishing a level of trust between us and our clients is important so honest opinions can be shared in both directions. In addition to the personal stuff, during the on-site consultation, we formulate a plan for the overall look of the space including our to-do list as well as homework for our clients. Finally, we discuss budget, contract details, a deposit for purchases if needed and an estimated completion date.
We often tell our clients, “It’s ugly before it’s pretty.” So begins the “ugly” part of the decorating process… planning. As tedious and boring as it can seem, good planning (like good tools) makes the job go faster, more smoothly and is a critical, albeit not-so-glamorous, part of the interior decorating process. A first step in planning is to draft floor plans, especially if we’re considering the addition of new furniture. Who hasn’t heard the horror stories of shoppers who’ve bought new furniture only to find it won’t fit in the space or sometimes even through the door? Good space planning helps us prevent this costly mistake.
As planning goes, story boards are the fun part. During this design phase of decorating, creating a story or mood board helps us and our clients clearly see how items in a space, whether old or new, will “play” together. As choices are made, samples of fabrics, rugs, flooring and other elements are pulled together to reinforce the story board vision and help finalize the plans.
Anyone who enjoys decorating or at least living vicariously through those who do, loves a good home improvement show. While the tv designers and their unseen minions make the transformations look easy-peasy, the “ugly” part of interior design goes on behind the scenes without much ado on screen.
Sourcing every little thing needed to create those stunning spaces you see at the end takes a lot of time and hunting. Truth be told, designers spend more time planning and sourcing than actually decorating. And while we have more experience and perhaps some different resources, the hunting game is still the same. We, like our clients, have to do the down and dirty part of decorating which is finding all the components. Without it, there’s simply no way to bring our vision to life.
One of the most frustrating parts for our homeowners (and us as well) is the “rush to wait.” Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same is true of most interior design projects. After weeks and weeks of planning and sourcing, orders are placed and the wait begins. It would certainly be wonderful if we could fast-forward through this step like they do on tv. But, the waiting game is an all-too-real, not so pretty part of the decorating process.
While we’re busy sourcing other details and homeowners are waiting for deliveries, however, it’s a perfect time to take care of projects. During the consultation, we may have decided it’s time for a fresh coat of paint, to update flooring, switch out a few light fixtures etc… With our input on colors, styles and more, our clients can then coordinate and schedule these improvements while we’re waiting for items to arrive. Making changes to the backdrop or canvas of the space now helps sets the stage for decorating once everything is available.
Anyone who decorates, whether homeowner or professional, knows just how much schlepping is involved. Multiple trips to the store hunting every detail for a space is time consuming, can be frustrating and requires a lot of patience. Most designers don’t have a warehouse of goodies just waiting to be shopped. We, too, are going door to door, store to store trying to find the perfect elements to really give a space personality and bring it to life. Embracing our inner “bag lady” is part of every designer’s journey to help their clients.
Finally, after all the behind-the scenes work is done, the next step is the actual decorating or styling. With the end in sight, it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get down to it. This usually involves more schlepping including smaller items which might not have already been delivered like window treatments, artwork and accessories. Once everything is on site, and following a multi-step process, the rooms are transformed, layer upon layer, until they’re finally ready for the “reveal”.
While decorating is a lot of fun, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not a LOT of work too. From moving furniture, to installing window treatments, hanging artwork and more takes hours. Depending on the size of the project, it can take several people a full day or more to decorate an entire home. With good planning and coordination, however, we’re able to complete most jobs in a day or less. And while it’s nice to finally see everything coming together, that doesn’t mean we don’ t get a little sweaty along the way.
Finally, reveal time is here! The most enjoyable part of the job, in our opinion, is the reveal. Our clients have patiently waited for this day and, for one more day, they’ve graciously left us while we take care of “the ugly before it’s pretty part” of interior design. Opening the door for and giving them their own while you were out moment is so satisfying. With every detail in place and seeing the stunned and proud look on their faces is what makes moving through all the “ugly” worthwhile.
And there you have it… the ugly before it’s pretty of interior design. Interior design is all about creating beauty in the world. Creating beauty often means fixing ugly (thus the license plates)! And as glam as they make it seem on tv, there’s an awful lot of ugly work behind the scenes to create spaces that are polished, personalized and perfect!
So if you’ve ever wondered how they make it look so easy on tv, it’s largely smoke and mirrors. And while we may not be digging ditches, any design professional will tell you it’s truly a lot of work doing what we do. At the end of the day however, we’ve left the world a little prettier, a little more polished and our client’s a whole lot happier. There’s nothing ugly about that!