Help! I Hired the Decorator From Hell!

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hey Guys,

Some of you have already heard this (and I have just removed my services page.) I have made the leap from full-time interior designer to full-time blogger. I have a couple of clients that I am still working with, but otherwise, I can’t handle any more at this time.

 

*However, there is some good news which I will tell you about at the end of the post.

(no fair peeking) ;]

 

We’ve all heard of the so-called “client from hell.”  A while back I wrote a post about an interior designer who fired her client.

Oftentimes, it’s not that the person is difficult. It’s that their expectations are not in line with their designer and that’s when conflict can arise.

To be fair, while not the majority of my colleagues, there is such a thing as the decorator from hell.

The note below is based on an amalgam of stories I have heard over the years.

 

Dear Laurel,

I hired a decorator to help me furnish our living, dining  and family room. I gave her a budget of no more than 75k for everything. She said that was no problem. Well… it’s six months later. I have already paid her nearly 20k in design fees and in the way of furnishings, all we have are drapes, a couple of sofas, pillows, coffee table and a rug. Quite frankly, it all looks rather bland. It isn’t what we wanted. She talked us into this expensive fringe on the hideously expensive silk Roman shades. Oh, and the clincher? All of that so far, has cost us with shipping and tax $35,791.31!!!  The shipping alone on all of that was over 3k! What? With the fees, we have already spent almost 56k of our 75k budget!

In addition, she often foists her assistant on us. Well, this woman is as thick as mud and horrendous about returning phone calls. When we ask to speak to her boss, she is ALWAYS in a meeting. (I’m sure) and never calls us back or returns emails.

I’m so upset.  I found her through ASID, so I was positive that since she was a professional member that she would behave professionally and at the very least, give us what we asked for? Then, I found out that she’s really only “allied” ASID whatever the hell that means. I don’t know. All I know is that we’ve gotten royally ripped off and I’m hopping mad! Lucky me. I found the decorator from hell!

sincerely,

Deb

 

Oh dear… Could Deb have avoided the interior designer from Hell? Yes, I think so. This interior designer mislead Deb and whether she realized it or not, took the job under false pretenses.

Obviously, she could not stay within budget and she was inaccessible. However, unless this designer is an out-and-out lying sociopathic freak, Deb does bear some responsibility as it appeared that she did not properly qualify the designer.

 

 **********

interior-decorator-from-hell

 

 

 

So, let’s say that you’re planning on furnishing your first home or maybe it’s your fifth.

 

You realize that you’re in over your head. You wisely seek out the help of a professional interior designer/decorator
(***note*** I feel that the terms are largely interchangeable which you can read more about here.)

 

However, you’ve heard some stories about the possibility of hiring the decorator from hell and you’re leery.

 

Well, you should be!

 

There are all kinds of people in the world. Right? Working with an interior designer is a lot like a marriage and above all else, both you and the designer need to feel extremely comfortable working together.

 

Laurel’s Ultimate Guide To Avoid Getting Stuck With The Sucky Decorator From Hell

(or how to find your perfect interior designer)

 

  1. Ask your friends or friends of friends if they know of anyone. Realtors can sometimes be another great resource.
  2. Google the interior designers in your area. You do not have to work with someone in your immediate area, but often-times, closer is better.
  3. Look at their websites and portfolios online. Are the websites professional with pleasing colors and images that you like? Does it look like they should be selling plumbing parts instead of exquisite draperies? There are lots of great clues  in the designer’s website.

 

The portfolio.

 

christmas decorations that don

bronxville-dining-room-buffet-mirror copy

bronxville-kitchen-canopy-designs-custom-sconce

Above images by Laurel Bern Interiors.

 

Can you see yourself living in any of the designer’s rooms? You don’t have to like all of the interiors, but there must be something this person is producing that resonates with you.

 

More info about portfolios

 

 

Some designers work in different styles and some do not. If you don’t see anything that floats your boat, don’t expect your designer to bend her aesthetic too far off of her norm; even IF she says otherwise. You need proof of this!

 

Look at the services provided.

 

Some designers specialize in certain aspects such as construction. While others only do things like upholstery and drapes. Some do it all. Look at her background, education, years in business. There should be lots of great information which can help you make an informed choice.

 

All right. You’ve narrowed down the field to six interior designers that have made the referral/google/website cut.

 

Time to get on the horn. I say that because you can certainly email them, but you are going to have to speak to them eventually. If they do not have their phone number listed. Move on. That’s no good.

  • Make a page in a notebook for each designer and take notes.
  • Did they respond in a timely fashion?
  • Were any employees who answered the phone friendly and helpful?

 

Once you have the interior designer on the phone, now comes the qualifying round.

 

Of course, she will be qualifying you too! How do you feel talking to her?  Nervous? That’s alright. Take a deep breath. You have a list of questions all ready to go so you won’t forget any pertinent points. You’re in control!

 

Laurel’s List of Questions Every Client Needs to Have to Grill Ask Her Potential Interior Designer/Decorator

 

  • How much does a client spend on average for a living room?

If the designer says between 80-100k+ (and many do) and your budget is no more than 30k, it’s time for… oops. sorry. gotta go. Nice speaking with you, but I forgot I have a cake in the oven. bye, bye.

There is no need to go any further. It could be the other way too. You might have a John Rosselli or Holly Hunt budget, but your designer gets all of her furnishings at Crate and Barrel.

  • What  types of services do you  provide?

Actually, this should already be on her website, but if not, you need to ask because not all designers handle everything you might be needing.

  • What is your fee structure like?

All right, this is such a sticky, icky subject and there’s a right way to do this and the wrong way.

Please do not ask her how much her mark up is. Please. Do you go into Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s and pick up a blouse and ask them how much did they pay for it? No. of course not. Don’t put your designer on the spot because it’s an unfair question and impossible to answer.

Designers usually purchase products from a wide variety of sources and as our discount varies, so does the cost to clients. As a consumer, however, it behooves you to know generally how much things cost.

(however, please do not “shop” your interior designer/decorator. If you don’t trust that you’re getting good value for her expertise and product, then it’s not going to work out.)

 

What you need to know is if they sell products in your PRICE RANGE.

 

In addition to markup from wholesale on product, some interior designers do charge an hourly fee.

 

This is another sticky subject.

 

How Do Interior Designers Charge For Their Services?

 

It’s not an easy question to answer. A big part of the problem is that there is no regulation or standard way of doing things in this industry. And because of the way that vendors also have no consistency with how they bill us, I’m afraid it’s not going to happen.

But… and this is very important. What I’ve discovered in talking with colleagues who charge in different ways, is that in the end, we are all about the same give or take 10%.

As an aside for folks that are young designers or those getting into this business later in life; many don’t realize that they can get a lot of their product at stocking dealer prices or at least at a better discount than if they went through a showroom or store.

This is not to say that showrooms are bad. Not at all! And the designer does have to accept more responsibility. In addition, many vendors will not sell directly to designers.

So, if you are working with a designer who only uses show rooms, that is not a bad thing. Some designers only charge an hourly fee, for instance.

But it’s one reason why I created Laurel’s Rolodex. It’s an insider’s guide to over 500 vendors and brands and features over 150 who are designer friendly. I went years not realizing I could buy direct. Subsequently, I put thousands of dollars in someone else’s pocket that could’ve been in mine. AND, I could’ve sold the same product to my clients for less money.

This guide is for designers and design enthusiasts. It does not divulge pricing or any professional confidence. In fact, it is designed to help both designer and client.

 

Another great question which will give you lots of clues

 

Please tell me what are the price ranges for things like sofas, chairs, (especially dining chairs!), fabrics, etc? Maybe you’ll even see something you like in her portfolio and I think it’s fine to ask for a ball park price on how much it cost.

An experienced designer will also have her spiel down as well. And some of these things she should be divulging without your asking. I sometimes ask a client where did she buy her current furniture, to get an idea of her price range or I will say that sofas start as low as about 2,000 on up.

Most designers also have an initial design fee and some will ask for a retainer which will be applied to the final bill.

Do you have a letter of agreement?

It is highly unprofessional to not have a letter of agreement.  If there are any questions on it, you need to be able to discuss them as well.

How will I be able to see the items that I’m going to be purchasing? 

Obviously, that has to be presented and it’s good to know how. I would not order fabric from just seeing it online for instance.

What if I don’t like what you’re showing me?

We’ll find something else that you love! Look at her very carefully while she’s answering this one. Some designers welcome their client’s input and some don’t. Oh, she might be going along with you kinda sorta. See her squirming ever so slightly? That’s the tell. ;]

Some clients do want their designer to take over, but if you’re one who doesn’t, it’s very important to suss this one out in the beginning.

Will you do space planning and a room layout?

Yes, they better!

Are you able to incorporate some of my current furnishings?

If that is important to you, I would ask.

Are you expecting to furnish my entire home? What if I want to handle certain areas on my own.

Every designer works differently. Some are open to you handling certain rooms or parts of a room and some are not.

This is also a good time to divulge stuff that she needs to know about like:

  • the 3k credit you have with Thomasville.
  • Or the fact that you have a friend who sews.
  • Or your sister/mother/aunt/BFF is a decorator.

 

Okay. I think we’ve covered the pertinent qualifying issues. How’d she sound? If you feel good and like you’d like to have coffee with her, then make an appointment to meet!


Is there a charge for this appointment? I mean, I don’t know if I want to hire the designer yet or not. So, why should I pay?

 

Well, you want to have coffee with her so you’re probably at least 90% sure that you do.

My feeling is that designers should charge for that first visit. She has already qualified you on the phone and you, her. But when she shows up, she’s most likely going to be far more helpful if she’s getting paid than if not and you will be able to see her in action.

Therefore, expect to pay for this service, but use it to the max for your benefit!

more questions.


Can I use my painter or contractor/tradespeople?

YES, YES, YES! In fact, my clients MUST have a completely separate contract with these people. The money is not filtered through my company. That is between you and them. Of course, your designer should work with them to help solve any problems that may crop up.

My rule has always been, if it moves, it goes through me, but if it’s not moveable (like a floor or paint) it goes through an outside contractor.

Do you have time in your schedule for my project?

I realize that might sound obvious, however some designers will take anything that comes their way whether they have time for it or not.

Work this one in, somewhere, if you can…

What is the worst problem you’ve ever had and what was the outcome?

This is a question that no one ever asks me, but they should. I have had a few doozies over the many years.

IF she’s cagey or says something like, well, nothing really bad has ever happened.

  • She’s only been in business for a few months.
  • She’s lying.

May I have a list of client references?

Yes! Absolutely!

*********

Questions for the designer’s clients


Did the designer stay on budget?

Were there any major problems and how were they solved?

*********


May I speak with a couple of your trade references?

No one has ever asked me that either. But it’s a great question and I would have no problem giving someone a contractor and/or a trade rep to speak with. No. She’s not going to give you the name and phone number of her custom workroom, but a contractor is perfectly reasonable; especially if you are paying her for her time! If she seems insulted or gets huffy, you do not want to work with this person.

You know what to say…

Thank you so much! I need to speak to my husband and I’ll get back to you. ;]

(sometime in the next century)

 

Trust your instincts. If you think that you’re smelling a whiff of eau de snake oil, you’ll most likely be right.

However, if everything checks out; you have asked all the right questions and gotten great enthusiastic responses.

And you love her work and she’s fun to be around. You most likely have yourself a winner!

Decorating your home should be a fun, fulfilling activity. As James Swan says… Here’s to making the world more beautiful.

********

Now, for the good news I was talking about.

While I’m not doing paid consultations, I have decided to have a mid-summer SPECIAL OFFER.

For those of you who’ve bought either Laurel’s Rolodex and/or The Laurel Home Essential Paint Color Collection – you will be eligible to possibly win one of the following (your choice):

A FREE Interior Design Consultation (45 minute phone sesh with me)

or

The Next Paint Collection Product for FREE. (coming out late September)

I will be giving out THREE of these so your chances aren’t bad for winning and there is nothing you have to do in order to win one of those two prizes.

But, if you want to be in the running, and you do not have yet a rolodex and/or a paint collection, you will be eligible if you order one or both by 11:59PM California Time on August 7th, 2016.


Again, too enter, all you need to do is order the rolodex and/or the paint collection, or both! If you already own either of those, you will automatically be in the running.

To find out more and to access the secure payment gateway, please click:

Laurel’s Rolodex

The Laurel Home Essential Paint Color Collection

(there are also banners in the sidebar that work the same)

Please note that these are downloadable PDF files that you save to your device(s). However, many people have sent them off to be bound into a tangible book if you prefer. And if interested, I can send you info about how you can do that after your purchase.

For this time period–only, I am sorry, but cannot honor returns for the odd one who decides to return in the event they don’t win. Returns are very rare in any case.

Good luck and please let me know if you have any questions.

xo,

Laurel-e1443573876689

 

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  • Naomi Mann - July 17, 2017 - 4:43 PM

    Dear Laurel,

    I hired the archetypal Decorator from Hell. Worst of all, it was a fabulous opportunity– total renovation of a high end art deco apartment with amazing views in a small co-op building on San Francisco’s Russian Hill, with no need to incorporate rugs or furniture from the last residence.

    I am not new to this — have renovated almost a dozen houses and apartments, several of them true “gut renovations, have worked with designers and architects over several decades, and I am of course kicking myself because I should have known better. The cost in dollars as well as emotional energy has been great. (I could have sent one of my grandchildren to Harvard for a year and then some for the dollar amount I will get back on what I have to deaccession from this decorating disaster.
    .
    I’m happy to send you a longer version of this sad tale, step by sorry step, if you’re interested, but in the meantime, what professional advice do you have for hiring another designer who is really good, but also willing to step in to help save the day by cleaning up the mess?
    ThanksReplyCancel

  • Nancy - September 3, 2016 - 6:05 PM

    Could I please ask your advice? I hired a decorator that happens to be huge on instagram and is close to my house. I loved her style and asked her to help with my foyer, kitchen and family room. I was looking for help “finishing” my home. To make it look “different’ and “interesting”. AKA not from the usual PB, RH, etc. I can do that myself. 125 bucks an hour. So far it’s been almost 6 months since I first contacted her, she forgot about me for over 6 weeks and all I have to show for the time and a 2,000 dollar bill are 6 design boards (pdf’s) of almost the exact stuff she has done in her own home! I could have looked at her instagram page and done that myself for free! I feel let down, disappointed and mad at myself. Should I discuss why I feel that she really hasn’t done anything? Or just pay the bill and cut my losses? I am upset and I feel that even if I talk to her she will say she provided me with what I asked for and too bad, pay up. I really hate confrontation of this sort and it has been keeping me up for 5 nights (since I received my last bill for 1250.00) Just an example, she charged me for 3 hours for my foyer and all I got was a picture of one light fixture, two carpet runner ideas and a foyer table idea! (The room is 15×15 and is open to the entire house) She forgot that I have 4 sconces in my foyer, two other light fixtures, I need paint color for the walls. What she gave me quite possibly took her all of 15 minutes. Ugh, I’m so sad.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 3, 2016 - 8:11 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      I feel for you. And I understand how frustrating it must be to not get what you want and still have to pay for it.

      This is the primary reason why I have never charged an hourly for most jobs. But even if I were and I knew the client wasn’t happy, I wouldn’t keep charging her! A good designer should be able to hone in on exactly what you would like and/or give you at least three viable options.

      However, that’s not helping you very much with your current situation. The problem is that if you don’t like what she’s doing then she’s going to keep charging you to continue.

      I would say that it’s not going to work out with this designer. It sounds like she’s taken on more work than she can handle or else has something else going on in her life. (instagram?) Six weeks in the design phase for her to go crickets isn’t right.

      The only other thing I have to say from experience is that it’s easy to think that she only spent 15 minutes and maybe she did, but maybe she spent far longer than that. It’s impossible to know but if it feels like she just slapped something together, she probably did.

      Confrontation is a tough thing and this is what I’ve learned in my 60 years. Everyone thinks they are right even if they are wrong. So, if you tell someone they’re wrong, then they will get all defensive and weird which will just make things worse.

      People don’t generally change their spots. So, I would pay the bill and then fire her. Just politely tell her that you’re not comfortable going forward. It’s not a good fit. She’ll get it.

      Or… you could tell her that you’ll have to get back to her after speaking with your husband… ;]

      That’s code in this business for “so long, have a nice life.”

      Again, I’m sorry for this experience. And please know not all designers are like that!ReplyCancel

      • Nancy - September 3, 2016 - 9:36 PM

        Thank you so much for your quick reply! The thing that you said that makes so much sense (all of it!) “Everyone thinks they are right even if they are wrong” you are so right. There is no point in confronting her about the charges. I will tell her I am not comfortable going forward and just leave it at that. I definitely feel like she just slapped something together without much thought and that isn’t the kind of designer I would like to work with. I am sure she feels like she is doing a great job. We would both think we were right… You have been so helpful, thank you so much!! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Martina (from France) - August 14, 2016 - 8:19 AM

    Hi Laurel, I have juste discovered your gorgeous blog, full of such good advice and … humour. I’ll come back to your articles as often as possible. Thanks for sharing your expérience, tastes and precious discernement. MartinaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - August 14, 2016 - 12:19 PM

      Hi Martina (from France!)

      I’m very honored! Merci beaucoup! A bientot!ReplyCancel

  • carol - July 29, 2016 - 12:13 PM

    Really good post. My only experience with a designer was when I was fairly young and inexperienced. There was a furniture store nearby with an in-house designer and I needed some help with a couple of rooms in my home. My pain in the neck living room (and still is) which had 5 door openings and has only one wall that you could put a sofa on to create a conversational area, you have a direct site-line into the main bathroom. To me, this is like having a bathroom door right off of a kitchen ugh. So she comes out, we talk about what I’m wanting to do etc. So we go into the bathroom, I told her I wasn’t able to redo tile or fixtures at that time and was looking for some updating i.e.: paint, wallpaper or whatever to make it fresh. Tile was mostly white and pink trim. Now mind you we have 5 kids ranging from toddler to high school and only 1 bathroom. When she suggested PINK carpeting in the Bathroom, I’m thinking are you nuts?? This was in the 70″s and they were carpeting bathroom, but with 5 kids OMG. So thanked for her time and never back to that store. Love reading your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - July 29, 2016 - 11:58 AM

    Congratulations on the career change! I am so glad to have found your blog and watched it grow! Your help has been invaluable to me and I feel so much more sure of myself and my instincts since I started following you! I feel like I understand better why a room works (or doesn’t). I look forward to reading your future entries and will cross my fingers I might win and get to talk to you!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 29, 2016 - 12:17 PM

      Hi Megan,

      Thanks so much and glad that the blog is helpful to you.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - July 29, 2016 - 7:07 AM

    Congratulations on your new endeavor. Those of us who NEED your insightful blog applaud. I echo others who say yours is the one blog we never miss. Your Essential Paint Collection is spectacular and a wonderful investment. Thank you, thank you, Laurel. I hope I win that consultation, because I have a very bossy…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 29, 2016 - 12:17 PM

      Hi Jane,

      Thanks so much! It’s not actually new but I haven’t voiced it. But I’m getting so many requests for help, felt it important to make it clear that I’m most likely not going to be able to do that. ReplyCancel

  • Betty - July 28, 2016 - 8:47 PM

    Oh snap! I wrote this awe inspiring comment and the cyber monsters must have eaten it. I just wanted to congratulate you on going full time blogging. Yours is the only blog I faithfully read and enjoy every Sunday morning with coffee. So many blogs are … you know what I mean (sigh). Yours are uplifting, filled with extraordinary insights and wonderful comments. I look forward to your wonderful outlook on colors, placement, and all the other things that drive the common folks to drink. I thank you for giving me the guts to paint my kitchen and living room Van Deusen Blue with white trim and to tackle the bedroom with Tropical Dusk.

    I still struggle with furniture placement to try and avoid the bowling alley affect but some day the light bulb above my head will get turned on and I’ll say Ah Ha.

    Have a wonderful evening.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 28, 2016 - 10:40 PM

      Hi Betty,

      Thank you for that darling comment and sorry about the cyber beast eating your first one. That’s happened to me too and it’s so upsetting.ReplyCancel

  • mollie duvall - July 28, 2016 - 5:14 PM

    Laurel, this question is not specific to this post. Hope it’s ok to ask this question here.

    How can I source décor I have seen on TV shows? I have fallen in love with a picture I saw on Devious Maids. It is beautiful and I am lusting after it but have NO IDEA how to start my search. Any advice?ReplyCancel

  • Karen - July 28, 2016 - 11:44 AM

    Thanks for the great offer Laurel. I love my Rolodex and paint guide. There is so much available to the public at retail that I had NO CLUE about, especially regarding furniture. I though I was forever going to be stuck in the Lamps Plus, Pottery Barn, RH rut. These tools you have worked so hard on are a super value and I think all your readers should buy them!! COngrats on moving to full-time blogging. You went out with a bang I would say, and more accolades are coming your way I am sure.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 28, 2016 - 5:32 PM

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks so much and for the lovely testimonial too.

      Actually, nothing has changed as I think I mentioned. I haven’t taken on a new job in nearly a year. And it doesn’t mean that it’s an absolute if the right thing comes along.

      But I’ve found that it’s very difficult to do both–well and I need to look out for my future. ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - July 28, 2016 - 10:01 AM

    In a rush without time to read all of this, but can’t wait to get back to it! This I know, I would LOVE for you to do a TV show. You have real knowledge and a wonderfully compelling personality. That would be one HGTV show I would watch …..faithfully! Congratulations on your leap. Good for you!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 28, 2016 - 5:30 PM

      Hi Cathy,

      Oh, that is so sweet. The irony is that in my late teens and throughout my 20’s I was in show business. Dancing, singing, acting– every medium. But really didn’t make much money doing it and it’s the most BS business ever! ReplyCancel

  • Betty - July 28, 2016 - 7:47 AM

    Good for you and your continuing adventure into the cyber world. Your blog is the only one I read, so many are just fluff and silly things they make me … excuse me … barf. The information I have taken away from this blog is impressive. “We” have coffee every Sunday morning together, even though you aren’t here I feel that we are friends sharing a laugh and a nod of the head, yep been there and unfortunately done that Ha Ha. I’ve alerted my niece to your blog because she is doing some renovating in her 100 yr old house especially the kitchen, but I still have dibs on that gorgeous Chef with the dark gray kitchen ahhhhh. She loves it too.

    Here’s a question, I have furniture and do not want new BUT and it is a huge BUT I am having a horrible time trying to put it in my new house. I can’t tell you how many times this stuff has been moved and yet I am still unhappy with placement. I can’t “get that cozy feeling” I had in my small condo (sigh) no matter what I do it just isn’t right. Is there someone to hire that does this? Placement of furniture with existing items.

    As always, thank you for your insight and laughter you provide.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 28, 2016 - 10:45 PM

      Hi again Betty

      Oh hooray! I guess the beast spat the comment back, because I just found it! It sounds like you could use a consultation with a designer. There are definitely those that will help you work with what you have.

      And thank you again for your lovely words!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Porkovich - July 28, 2016 - 3:28 AM

    I’m so excited for you in your new venture! My best wishes for your continued success.

    This may sound odd but yours is the only blog I read or subscribe to. I was big into Youtube when it first burst on the scene, but it really sucks time so I’ve given it up.

    I’m also happy that we will benefit from your expert advice to an even greater extent now that you are writing full-time.

    One topic I don’t think I’ve seen addressed is how to ‘scale’ furnishings to the space. I have seem a great many articles about spacing and size but no real help with furniture scale for a particular space. Many of us in Europe have to deal with a too small space and I know I’ve made so many mistakes with scale as well as the overall dimensions.

    I’m going to be investing in a new sofa soon (5K) and I want it to be perfect-meaning the exact right height, depth, and length for my small living area and my large husband.

    I hope you will have the opportunity to cover this topic in the same great way you have with the window furnishings posts-I really learned a great deal from those!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 28, 2016 - 5:27 PM

      Hi Susan,

      Thanks so much! That’s a great topic and one I’d like to cover.ReplyCancel

  • Ann W. - July 27, 2016 - 11:11 PM

    Good luck! It’s been wonderful to watch your hard work, knowledge, and sense of humor bring you to a new adventure– can’t wait to see what’s next!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 11:19 PM

      Thanks so much Ann. Hopefully, more of the same! I have a lot to say!ReplyCancel

  • Shelley Baum - July 27, 2016 - 10:34 PM

    I adore your blog and try to internalize all of your wonderful advice! I’ve learned so much and continue to learn. My address is Paradise Peak and I always have to tell people on the phone: It’s spelled P-e-a-k like a mountain not P-e-e-k like peeking at something! Just want to pass that on in case you want to “peek” at your spelling! Please keep up your great work so we can all keep benefiting!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 11:19 PM

      oops! Thanks for calling that out in a discreet way. That’s discreet, not discrete. English suks. ;]ReplyCancel

  • Leigh Scott - July 27, 2016 - 9:53 PM

    Hi Laurel: Great blog post! I once asked you about BM’s Quiet Moments in a living room that can get dark and you told me if I decided to use it, to be sure not to mix it with white to make it lighter. I took your advice and it is GORGEOUS! It looks different colors from early morning to night, from pale blue to dove gray to pale green. There is one wall at an entry that currently has old Laura Ashley wallpaper. I know you don’t like accent walls but I was thinking of some shade that would be either a bit lighter or darker. Or should I just remove the paper and do it the same. It almost screams out for a complementary wallpaper. The trim in the room is White Dove and the ceiling is Simply White. Any ideas? You can also see the kitchen from this living room and that is Guilford Green and the Quiet Moments half wall looks great against the Guilford Green on the far wall. Thanks for any ideas.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 10:05 PM

      Hi Leigh,

      Thank you, thank you for being the echo of one of my messages. It always carries more weight when someone has experienced it first hand for themselves.

      As for your accent wall. There are times when they DO work and they do make sense. And if you have a wall that’s screaming for something, well… I would listen to it! lolReplyCancel

  • Christine V - July 27, 2016 - 9:40 PM

    Laurel, it’s so exciting how the journey of life evolves. Don’t they say, life is what happens when your busy making plans. It’s truly amazing how decisions and goal can blossom into different opportunities.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 10:02 PM

      It really is… and it’s been a wild ride. But one thing I can say is something my mother used to say many times. “There isn’t some ill wind that doesn’t blow in some good.”

      And the lesson is that even when life throws some low blows, there is usually something that comes out of it that wouldn’t have happened if that bad thing hadn’t happened first. ReplyCancel

  • Libby - July 27, 2016 - 8:57 PM

    Hi Laurel, that is very generous of you to offer the giveaway. It is also generous of you to provide this guide to vetting and hiring a decorator. Plus, you’ve told us exactly how a potential client is sized up. Thanks for the tools and inspiration delivered in your delightful style.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 9:19 PM

      Thanks so much Libby. And it’s true. It does go both ways or it should. One mistake some young designers make is to take every job that comes their way even if it’s not a good fit.

      It’s not personal; it’s just that not every designer is right for every client.ReplyCancel

  • Christine V - July 27, 2016 - 8:57 PM

    OMG – my life. I felt like I had already made so many decisions and choices with our new build. I love our new little home and wanted the open concept great room to be a blend of comfy and lovely (it’s open for all to see but also our only lounging space). I was afraid of making a mistake. I looked on Yelp and Houzz and asked for referrals. I interviewed 3 and went with one. It turned into a bad experience – all the things she said she could changed after she cashed my $1000 deposit and came for our first meeting (post consultation). Price ranges increased (doubled) my colors were “out” and my peices that were staying needed expensive faux finishing or needed to move to another room! I shared my concerns and they were met with more samples of the same. I lost trust and that led to exactly what Laurel said not to do. I had a feeling one of the items she showed me was uttermost. It all was except the upholstery! One of them was less than Half her price on wayfair (eww)!!! If I wanted to furnish at Target I can do that myself!
    After some polite emails and some unpleasant replies, she agreed to a refund less her time for the meeting. I was wrong here too, I didn’t get things in writing to start and missed some of Laurel’s great points.
    I ordered the Rolodex this weekend and really hope I can use it to help me. Maybe I will win a consultation :]

    Thanks as always for a great post. Congrats on moving fully to blogging. How exciting!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 9:17 PM

      Oh gosh Christine. That sounds horrible! And it should not be less than half her price on Wayfair! That’s gross! Her prices should be in line with them unless for some reason, it’s some random close-out, but I doubt that was the case.

      However, I have had that happen to me on Joss and Main with that rug ho Surya. They sell their over-runs and returns for pennies, but they are still selling them for a lot more to designers. I don’t agree with that practice. In other words, I was selling below retail, but J&M was selling BELOW wholesale to the general public! It was a small rug and I let the clients get it. ReplyCancel

  • Celeste - July 27, 2016 - 8:56 PM

    Congratulations on your new adventure!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 27, 2016 - 9:08 PM

      Hi Celeste,

      Actually, it’s not new but this week, I’ve gotten so many requests that I thought I better make a more formal announcement and take the services page down.

      Have to say it feels a little weird. Even though I haven’t taken on a new client in 11 months!

      I began to the blog in order to get more clients, but in the process, discovered a completely different path. ReplyCancel