Interior Design Isn’t For The Faint of Heart

Today was day-one of a two-day installation.

It doesn’t always work out that way, but this time it did.

I was a bit apprehensive because the home, built in the 30’s while reeking of charm, is full of anomalies and sometimes that can mean a problem or two.

But no matter, I figure whatever happens can get fixed.

C and H showed up to begin the window installation.

Old home + Old windows = Weirdness. (sometimes)

Laurel made a mistake and gave the wrong measurements for the MBR windows. It’s getting fixed. I just looked at the wrong column; not the end of the world.

The shades for the sunroom/family room went up like a dream.



The wood blinds were a little temperamental. They really would’ve preferred a deeper inset, but we worked it out. They are secure.

While we were putting up the blinds in the two tiny back bedrooms, I noticed an interesting phenomenon.


Both rooms are painted the SAME color. We love it in both rooms but it looks different in each room. It is definitely darker and greener in the north facing room. (on the right, duh) This is why I say, “test, test, test” and do not test on the wall! Paint it (two coats) on poster board and move it around.

Oh, you want to know the color?

Sure. It’s Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter hc-172

During all of this, downstairs J and J, rug and carpet installers extraordinaire showed up to lay the three big area rugs. The first is the wonderful Bunny Williams Jute rug for Dash and Albert. (first photo) Easy as can be and the 10 x 13 is the perfect size for the room!

Next. The living room. Because the fireplace juts out so far into the room, I decided to do a cut-out.

I measured three times. Yes, three times. That is not unusual.

The head J called me in from the next room.

“Laurel, the rug doesn’t fit.”

I gulped. I see money hemorrhaging out of my bank account. Then, I looked at the fireplace. I asked them if they realized that there is a cutout? No, they did not. Phew!


Here are the J’s hard at work laying down the sea grass over a luxurious felt padding.

It is perfect!

However, here is why Interior Design Isn’t For the Faint of Heart

The dining room.

For some reason the contractor’s guy decided to fix the fireplace hearth—TODAY– and not just today, but at the exact same time that we’re trying to lay the rug down! The mason-guy had just started but he needed to stop which he did, (reluctantly) Great. Now we had wet cement in way too close proximity for our brand new rug! (yes, we covered it up!)

But there’s more.

While the living room is perfect, the dining room rug was not. Another cutout for the corner fireplace. I measured VERY carefully. My lovely clients helped me. We CAREFULLY calculated  and accounted for every inch. As careful, careful as I am, the situation is not straight forward, but this one isn’t a huge deal. I’ve had a lot worse!


Here ya go. Difficult to see here, but it doesn’t fall the line properly of the fireplace.

After 25 years, I learned something new. You can have wide binding sewn on site! Next time, that’s what I’ll do!

This morning, one of my favorite interior designers, Meredith Heron had this to say on social media.

“Sometimes not everything goes as planned but they don’t necessarily turn out badly… Other times mind you it can be a total train derailment. Be prepared for everything in this biz….”

and then she said…

“ became clear that one half of the couple violated our strict no asshole policy…We tell all new clients, new trades etc that it is a firm policy.”

hahaha! And aside from her insane talent, that is why I love her! Too funny!

Well, I need to scadoodle. Have to repaint the rod for the guest-room. That one wasn’t a mistake. The bed got changed and the rod needs to go from pewter to antique gold. Terrific clients! It’s the least I can do.

Tonight the reupholstered pieces arrived and tomorrow all of the new furniture and more window treatments featuring some fabulous draperies and lots of pale blues, creams and beige.

Please stay tuned!



18 Responses

  1. Beautiful work as always, Laurel, and I agree, it’s terrific to see any designer, let alone the top ones like you, ‘fess up to mistakes. But they do happen, and no one is going to love working with a designer who tries to foist them off on the workmen.

    That said, yes, you certainly can have rugs edge-bound and custom-fitted on-site. There are actually companies that specialize in doing so, at least in San Francisco; I mean edge-binding in general, but also specifically on the job. If you haven’t already found one, check with your Stark vendor; they will know who there is in your general area.

    And all of *that* said, would you mind telling us what that lovely pale green in the first photo is?

    1. Hi Wendy,

      Yes! I found out that my installers can do the binding on-site. They’re terrific! So, all worked out well. In all of my years had never done an irregular shape before. It never came up and this home had two rooms with cutouts. One was perfect. The one I was the most worried about ironically.

      The paint color is BM Healing Aloe 1562. It looks different on every wall! Sometimes, more green and sometimes quite blue-gray!

  2. Excellent post Laurel. It is a rarity for well known designers to admit mistakes….so refreshing! Also clicked on link to Dash/Albert Rugs and fibers to avoid. Soooo helpful. Another issue w foam backed sisal rugs…with any humidity like we have on LI the foam stuck to the hardwood floors. Ugh. Re: colors looking sooo different in different rooms or worse in the same rooms I once used Shaker Beige in a DR. It got sooo green( which is the undertone ) on the east facing wall that I painted it another warmer beige just on that wall. I recently broke my client rule about only using blues or aquas toned with gray by painting my own SW facing Kitchen walls SW Tidewater. OMG….it went bright Tiffany Blue on exterior wall..which is lovely but doesn’t work with DR or LR palette….back to BM Palladian Blue, Woodlawn blue or Wedgewood Gray. Tried and true. I often do experiment w new colors in my own home/laboratory. This is why I have like 100 quarts of paint in my basement! Lol. Keep the faith and your sense of humor. I love your blog and Maria Killams the BEST!

    1. Hi Betsy, What a darling comment! I’m completely honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as Maria Killam. She’s amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences too!

  3. I appreciate your honesty about all of this! When I first started my color consulting business, I had a few exterior color schemes that didn’t turn out the way I planned. I was horrified, and sure that I was ruined. Luckily, my clients were all happy anyway, it was just me freaking out that the siding colors brought out more yellow than I had anticipated. I learned to be wary of sneaky yellow undertones that increase with square footage. I now carefully curate the colors ahead of time, and don’t have anything in my book that will be a surprise.

    1. Hi Diane… Oh, those undertones! They seem to pop up out of nowhere! But I too have on occasion not been 100% happy with a color but the client loved it. (rule. if a client is happy. I am too!) We all do see color a little differently! I think those of us who do this for a living are more sensitive to subtleties that not everyone can see!

    1. Hi Leslie, My client said that she’s calm because I’m calm. I’m glad it appears that way! haha. I have a son with special needs and it’s been half a lifetime of advocating for him. And then years of stuff going very wrong has taught me that eventually it all gets worked out.

  4. Laurel – Oh how I love thee! It’s so true that design is not for the faint of heart. I’ve been doing it for many years, and EVERY installation – either a single component of a room or a large, multi-step install like yours – my heart is in my throat just hoping it all comes together the way I had it planned.

    I saw the movie ‘Dior & I’ over the weekend – right before the show, you see Raf Simmons start crying and say “I just hope it’s good.” And his show was beyond good – it was wonderful.

    That’s why I love your blog – you keep it real. Interior design is not some sort of magic; it’s inspiration balanced with a lot of measurements, attention to detail, angst and sometimes even tears. But in the end, hopefully we create something exceptional.

    Can’t wait to read about the rest!


    1. Hi Christine, I think that a lot of people try to put on a pretense that everything is under control. They are perfect. If something goes wrong, it’s not their fault! Well, that’s more on the extreme end. But a lot of what looks perfect is anything but and “control” doesn’t exist! haha!

      The job is coming along nicely. More soon, but he client is very happy and that’s what matters the most!

  5. Laurel, Enjoyed reading every word, your clients home has great bones and your attention to detail is beautiful. Can relate to being tired and working through it – I recently painted a clients open living first floor plan with the BM Revere Pewter and every direction I turned it looked a different shade, and in the morning with fresh eyes everything was flipped – what was dark was light and visa versa. Agreed, the bumps along the way usually generate new design solutions that are even better than planned. Look forward to the outcome tomorrow…

    1. Hi Theresa,

      I know. That is one chameleon color which is also probably one reason it’s so well… “Revered” It is easy on the eyes too, that’s for sure. Thanks so much for the support!

  6. Nice! I love the cut out of the rug around the fireplace! I never thought of cutting a rug and sewing a binding on myself. And yes, paint colors look different on each square foot of a wall. I painted the kitchen den area which all face east with BM chantilly lace for a bright white in rooms that get no more sun after about 10 am. Well, it looks great but the bottom part of the walls reflect the floor color which is wood, the mid area is white as should be, and going towards the ceiling, which is also painted chantilly, gets a grayish hue from the reflection of the trees outside. So there are virtually 3 colors …layered horizontally on the walls. Pretty psychedelic looking right now, but I am hoping that once we put furniture in the room, it may even it out again. Moral of the story that I need to learn is not to panic until everything is done…because the “huge” problem may just go away as things developed. Thanks again Laurel, I always look forward to your posts!

    1. Thanks Chris! Well… as they say… it’s only paint. But you are right. Having furniture in the room, stuff on the walls, etc makes a huge difference! I always focus on the one new thing as well. I once had a very nice client who would often call me as soon as something was delivered in a slight (but always very nice) panic. I would tell her to give it a few days. Then, she would call me back a week later to say… “I love it!” Too funny, but often and I’m this way too, it takes time to get used to something new and different from what was there before.

  7. Oh, you have no idea how much I needed to read your blog tonight. I live in a 113 year old home and this kitchen remodel has me on edge with something new everyday. Today I had the measurements taken for the counter top template. There are so many oddities that all I can do is cross my fingers and hope that everything got communicated correctly to a workman who walked in with a bit of an attitude. I believe you are doing a great service by sharing the trials and heart stopping moments with your projects. Anyone who does this for a living or has attempted it for themselves will relate to your stories and maybe cut themselves some slack when things derail.

    1. Hi Tricia,
      I realize that I’m going out a bit on a limb, but I’m just as human as the next. I do many jobs fortunately where there’s nothing wrong. Everything goes perfectly smoothly. But those are usually smaller jobs. The majority have at least one thing that goes awry. If I make a mistake, I own up to it. Nothing is worse than someone who tries to put the blame on everyone else. Occasionally, however, I’ve had to take a hit when a vendor doesn’t make good on their booboo. Of course, if that happens, they’re gone for good!

      Good luck on your job and please allow me to cyber-bitch-slap that dude with an attitude. lol I have less than zero patience for that sort of behavior. Every tradesperson, workroom, contractor that I work with or recommend is super-duper nice or they’re out!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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