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!