What To Expect From Your Interior Design Consultation

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Charging a consultation fee has become a common practice in the interior design industry. However; from time to time I have encountered potential clients that will inquire why I charge a fee when Suzy Q down the street does not.

This is a fair question. In the past, I’ve made countless assumptions that people understand what I do and didn’t explain things in a way that made sense to consumers. One of my current goals is to educate folks as much as possible about interior design and show the value that we bring when working with us.

This post will provide guidance on what to expect and what not to expect during the design consultation. It will also provide an understanding of why it’s such an important part of the interior design process.

So back to the original question; why do we charge a fee for the design consultation? In the first few months of my journey, I actually offered free design consultations. With this, I quickly discovered that people didn’t value my services when there wasn’t an investment attached to it. I would encounter no shows or people really being unprepared for the appointment.

Once a fee was involved, I noticed a commitment to the process; an inherent value was placed on the consultation. I saw that people now had a vested interest. Imagine that!

Besides, the hours spent riding around in your car with no reimbursement for your gas or time for no shows was a hard pill to swallow. This is time being taken away from other billable activities and that. was. not. cool.

What To Expect: the interior Design Consultation

The interior design consultation is an opportunity to see your home first hand and start the conceptual process. It’s a time to listen to your decor dilemmas, learn more about your vision for the space, how it fits in with your lifestyle, etc.

This means that we will take a tour of your home together; we will discuss what is working for you in each space and what is not. We will hone in on those problem areas you want to address for the scope of work we will embark upon.

Once we have narrowed down the problem areas to address, we then provide our best and grandest ideas. These ideas may include best ways for space layout, the addition of millwork and other architectural elements, furnishings, lighting, art, window coverings, and decor pieces. We may also look at online resources to help you visualize what we have in mind.

The next step in the interior design consultation is discussing the budget. Most times clients do not know what their budget should be. So we will do a budget exercise; this includes completing a worksheet to help clients determine a good range to consider. You can read a previous post I wrote here about the expenses associated with decorating a space along with a sample budget planning tool.

The final step in the design consultation is discussing how we work. We will go over possible challenges like delays, back orders, and damages. We discuss how we can solve them for you. We may touch on our 3 phase process and next steps to get started. We will also answer any questions you have.

Clients are always encouraged to write down possible questions ahead of the consultation to make sure you are prepared. It may also be helpful to take notes during the meeting to ensure you understand what is being presented since this can be an overwhelming time.

What Not To Expect: The Interior Design Consultation

While we may suggest our grandest ideas, they are not the actual selections. Good design is about considering the space overall and how each element relates to each other. Its about layering pieces. This often takes some thought and time to develop. This could include pulling fabric and color swatches together or creating a concept board that shows how each piece relates to each other.

In other words; design takes time and an actual design cannot be achieved in a 2 hour consultation. While interior designer/decorators can instinctively stand in a room and feel what it needs, we also can turn that initial concept into something more brilliant if given the time. You deserve our best designs and we need time to make sure those ideas work for you.

There is no physical altering of the space during the design consultation. This means we don’t hang art or re-arrange any furniture. We also do not provide any notes, paint color suggestions, etc.

Lastly, the consultation fee is not applied to the design fee or any future project should you decide to hire us. The paid fees for the consultation is strictly for our time to travel to your home and provide you with expertise. This fee is collected ahead of time (prior to the meeting) to ensure that our focus is on the design work we are there for.

The interior design consultation plays an important part in the design process. It essentially allows you to gain ideas, guidance, resources and expertise to help you make decisions and move towards the next step.

Want to schedule a design consultation? Go to my Contact Me page and let’s get you set up!

3 Myths & Misconceptions Consumers Have About Interior Design

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Whenever I mention to someone that I’m an interior decorator, I’m generally hit with a bevy of questions. Some good, some bad. Over time, I’ve found that there are a lot of misconceptions about interior design professionals and the process behind what we do.

With the invention of HGTV and all the other home decor reality shows; I can understand how these myths were created. There is so much information out there that creates a false concept of how this all works. Compound that with the fact that every interior designer has a different business model that may or may not be explained in a manner that promotes trust among consumers.

With all the myths and misconceptions out there, I’ve found that there are 3 that reign supreme. What are they, you ask? Let’s dive in!

Interior design Myth #1: Interior Design is Too Expensive

This is a biggie and I can understand why. When most folks think about interior design, your mind conjures up images of the rich and famous. However, this service doesn’t have to seem elusive and non-accessible to the masses.

When you really get down to it, interior design require consumers to put together a budget. However; most never do this. Instead, consumers will buy things over a long time to decorate a space. When done this way, you don’t have a true grasp of how much was actually spent. Additionally, consideration is not given to the many layers that’s needed to bring a space to its full potential; resulting in costly mistakes because the room constantly feels “unfinished”.

When you work with designers, a budget is established at the very beginning. Our job as professionals is to see all the necessary details to bring YOUR room to a state of fabulousness. This means creating our very best design concepts; which usually comes as a sticker shock to consumers. However; the alternative may result in you spending more on your own.

interior design Myth #2: Internet Pricing is Better

The internet has done a great job of duping consumers into believing that it’s the best place to get a good deal. However; this just isn’t accurate. Sure, you may have found that “to die for” item at rock bottom pricing however; here’s a behind the scenes look of what’s going on.

  • Cheaper products equate to end of stock, defective, damaged or knock-off goods. Manufacturers will make a look-a-like product compared to a higher end to the trade product. Consumers then purchase these online items thinking that are getting the exact same product for less.

  • Online retailers are able to purchase products from manufacturers at a lower cost due to volume. No problem with that. However; with this volume comes an inventory full of bland products that lack customization. This means products that are stocked in colors like beige, grays, and whites that will appeal to the masses. However; when you purchase the same product through a design professional, we’re able to offer some customization.

  • The goal of online retailers are to sell you a product. So you aren’t getting any professional service outside of the sale. An interior designer on the other hand, has a vested interest in your project. We want to do an amazing job designing a unique space for you! As I mentioned above, we take into account all the details to ensure you have a finished space that truly reflects you. All of this is non-existent with online retailers. So even if designers sell you a product that’s more than what you see online, you are getting much more value and satisfaction.

interior design Myth #3: Retail Store Designers & Interior Designers Are the Same

I think retail designers are very knowledgeable about their products and do a great job of educating consumers when they make a purchase. However; retail designers and interior designers are not one and the same. Just because a store offers in-home design services does not mean you are gaining access to good interior design.

Of course there are always exceptions to this however; most retail designers are sales people and they’re only requirement is to sell you furniture. They have not been to your home to create a design layout. They don’t consider scale, proportion and balance of the other elements that occupy your space. In other words, they don’t have the bigger picture in mind for your project. The are only interested in seeing an open area in your home where their furnishings will work. There is nothing wrong with this however; consumers need to be aware of the differences so the right expectations can be set.

Designers are able to create unique designs for your home. We have a plethora of to the trade vendors to choose from so you don’t have to worry about furniture from the same catalog. It’s truly all about the customization!

in a nutshell…

I hope this post has been insightful. I believe communication is the key to clearing up these interior design myths and misconceptions. Having a set of systems and processes in place that you can explain to potential clients is also important. Decor By Demi has created a 3 phase process that’s easy for clients to follow and allows them to understand what they’re getting. Creating a thoughtfully designed space is not as easy as it looks on TV!

Decor By Demi would be more than happy to help you with your design needs. We offer full service and DIY friendly services. You can contact me here. Let’s create a space you love!

How To Mix and Match Color and Patterns

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Dammit!! That “ooh” moment you visualized in your head turned into a bust once you implemented your color and pattern scheme. You scratch your head and wonder to yourself where you went wrong.

I get it. Learning to mix and match color and patterns is harder than it seems. Between colors and scale and pattern, there’s a lot to consider. And let’s not forget how these “simple” decorating mistakes can end up being expensive. But there is hope.

Below I’ll share some common tips to consider when mixing and matching color and patterns.

mixing color & pattern-balance

Balance is the key to a successful mix & match color story! If you decide to start with a bold pattern, consider using a couple of tone on tone or solid patterns on a smaller scale in the space. This will help to create harmony and balance.

Another thing to consider when using a bold pattern is the location of the print. Perhaps if you’re using a bold pattern on a sofa, you’ll want to use the same print on a smaller scale with accent chair pillows on the opposite wall. Again, balance is important to keep in mind not just in the colors but in the locations of the bold prints.

mixing color & pattern-Monotone mixing

If you’re not quite ready to dive into the world of bold patterns, you could always start with a more simple strategy: monotone mixing. Start with one shade and choose 3-4 tones of that shade to incorporate into the space.

Another take on this concept is to choose one shade and then incorporate 2-3 subtle patterns in that shade. Think a shade of grey and then bringing in a stripe and geometric print pattern in that same grey shade. This is a sure fire strategy when mixing color and patterns!

mixing color & pattern-tried & true formula

A final tip to consider when mixing pattern and colors with accent pillows, is the tried and true formula of using one of each of the four: a floral fabric, a stripe, a geometric, and a solid. As long as each of these fabrics are within the same color family, you’re guaranteed to create a fabulous mix of color and patterns!

Do you need help creating your own color story by mixing color and patterns? If so, my Decor Sessions would be the perfect solution. Click the link here and let’s get started!

How To Mix & Match Dining Room Chairs

If you take a scroll through Pinterest or any retail furniture catalog, you’ll see the ever popular look of head dining chairs not matching side chairs. Although the chairs don’t match, they do coordinate with one other and manage to pull off an effortlessly chic design.

I absolutely love this look! This style lends itself to creating a more curated design and showcases a homeowner’s personality. I’m also glad this means the dreaded “dining set” look is starting to fade to black.

While there may be people who are digging this style, I realize there may also be folks who have a hard time re-creating this look in their homes.

So below, I want to share 3 simple tips when mixing and matching dining room chairs.

mix & match tip #1-consider the “feel”

Are you going for a more casual or formal look? This will be contingent upon the feel you want to evoke in your dining room. The style of the head chair may be different from the side chairs but you’ll still want them to carry the same feel of the room.

In other words, you wouldn’t want to mix a wingback head chair with a wicker chair. The wingback gives off a more stately, formal feel while the wicker chair will give off a casual and laid-back feel.

mix & match tip #2- consider materials

A great way to bring cohesion into this design is through the fabrics chosen. Perhaps the same color story can be woven throughout the space but you use different fabrics to illustrate that.

For example, you could use a patterned fabric for the head chairs. And then pull a color used in that pattern to select a solid fabric for your side chairs. Its a great way to show contrast while still highlighting a common thread.

Choosing the same finish for the legs is another material to think about when trying to tie elements together.

mix & match tip #3-consider shapes

The final tip focuses on the chair shape. No way am I recommending that the actual shape of the chairs should match; remember we are trying to get away from the dining set look! It’s all about encouraging a mix that makes sense.

What I suggest instead is to consider the silhouette of the head chairs and try to incorporate that element with the side chairs. For example, if your head chair is curvy; you could select side chairs that have rounded edges.

That’s a wrap! Hopefully these tips help you feel a little more confident with creating this look.

So, do you love this look? Would you try it in your home?

Decorating 101: How Much Does it Cost to Furnish a Room?

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One of the most important questions I ask clients during the consultation is, “what’s your budget”? The responses I often receive are, “I don’t know” or I’m generally given a random number that the client blurts out on the spot.

The budget is always a factor when it comes to furnishing a room. Most clients aren’t shopping for furniture on a regular basis so they really have no idea of the costs associated with creating the magic.

As a result, the client gets sticker shock once you begin to tally up the costs associated with their project. An undefined budget is truly a disaster waiting to happen. Creating a clearly defined budget will help manage the client’s expectations and is essential to the success of your decorating project.

So, how do you create a clearly defined budget based on real numbers?

There are 3 important things to consider when developing a realistic budget.

PRIORITIES

Which room in your home will you tackle first? How much should you spend in that first room to achieve completion while leaving money for subsequent rooms?

These are questions you will have to ask yourself and be honest with your responses! You definitely don’t want to run into a situation where you run out of money before you cross the finish line.

EXPECTATIONS

It’s all about managing your expectations. This will be determined by the level of quality you expect from each item in your project. This consideration will also require you to be honest with yourself.

If your budget dictates that most of your furnishings are from retail and mass produced; that’s fine. However; the expectations should match the level of quality of the products. In essence, you can’t expect the same level of detail and quality from a Pottery Barn sofa that you would receive from a custom, to the trade sofa.

BUDGET PLANNING TOOL

The final consideration is to develop a budget planning tool that will assist you with creating a realistic budget. Luckily, I’ve created one for you that you can download below…

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The “Good, Better, Best” Budget Planning Tool will help you create realistic numbers for furnishing your space and will allow you to be strategic and purposeful throughout your decorating project.

Splurge vs. Save Series: Key Investment Pieces for the Home

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Many times people are in a rush to fill up a space and miss the mark with buying quality furnishings. They quickly want to decorate a room to make it look nice, skipping the chance of curating a space that’s filled with quality pieces that will stand the test of time.

This leads to less than ideal furnishings that will only last a season or two. So now you’re annoyed because you realize you should have been patient initially AND now you have to buy new stuff.

However; all is not lost. If you’re in the market to purchase new furnishings, this series is for you. Throughout this series I’ll discuss key investments pieces that you should focus on for each room. These are pieces that are transitional in nature that can follow you throughout different homes and design styles.

key investment for living room: upholstery

Upholstery pieces include your sofas and chairs. With upholstery its all about the bones of the sofa. Check out my Sofa Series post here and here to learn all about what goes into making a quality sofa.

The idea behind upholstery pieces being a key investment is that you can have them for years to come. A sofa or chair that was built with quality construction materials can be made new again by simply re-upholstering it with new fabric. Think about your grandmother’s 20 year old living room furniture that doesn’t seem to be falling apart any time soon.

A quality upholstery sofa will cost you around $3,000. And this is on the lower end of the spectrum. If this price tag makes you gag, perhaps a slightly more affordable alternative would be purchasing a vintage/antique sofa and having it re-upholstered.

Your local antique stores are a great place to source quality made furnishings. Additionally, websites like Chairish and FB Martketplace are also great options; if you don’t mind the shipping costs. Antique pieces are a wonderful option especially if you prefer a certain style of sofa. Again, think of your grandmother’s camel back sofa or settee; these styles may have been replicated but they don’t come close to the original!

Now some things to consider with an antique sofa is the actual cost of the furnishing and then the cost to re-upholster. Certain brands (i.e., Henredon, Chippendale) may be more expensive than others. Add to this the type of fabric you select for re-upholstering your piece. Obviously, you want to make sure you are covering your sofa with a fabric that is going to protect both the inside and outside from any damage. Couple that with the labor involved and you may or may not be at the cost to purchase new. However; nothing beats the reassurance in knowing that your sofa is built like a brick house; or Ford tough if you prefer cars over song analogies.

If your goal is a timeless look, opt for a neutral fabric that can transition throughout your different decor moods and experiment with color and patterns through accent pillows and other low cost items.

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key investment for bedroom: bed

So last week we talked about upholstery pieces being key investments. The next investment piece to consider is the bed. So many people skimp on this furnishing because they only use it for 8 hours a day. Well, those 8 hours are pretty important and its necessary to splurge in this area!

First off, let’s discuss its function. Your bed helps support you in getting a good night’s rest. You’re supposed to wake up feeling energized and ready to concur your day! You can’t do that if you’re sleeping on a crappy mattress and bed frame.

When picking out your bed, select the best that your money can buy. Style is secondary to quality. You should pick a mattress and frame that will support your body throughout the night. There are too many options to name, so I’ll leave the research to you. Just make sure you take your time testing and laying on those that appeal to you.

Once you’ve narrowed this down, its time to determine a style. Again, there is no right or wrong choice in this department. If however, you are wanting to go with a timeless look, try to stay away from those 3 piece combo bedroom sets. In my opinion, these combos lack style and personality. I would suggest to mix and match your pieces to create a more curated look.

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key investment for dining room: dining table

The third and final room to explore is the dining room. The obvious splurge item in this space is the dining table and chairs; especially if this area is used to entertain guests or where you have daily meals.

You’ll want to find a quality wood table and chairs that you can have restored or refinished time and time again. This goes back to finding an antique piece or the best retail quality that your money can afford.

If the chair seating is upholstered, its so easy to change out the fabric when you get bored or if the current selection is worn down.

Save options

As for items that you can skimp on, they are pretty much the same regardless of the interior space. These items include:

  • Rugs

  • Decor pillows

  • Wall art

  • Decor accessories

These items are more forgiving and way easier to swap out than your bigger pieces. Classic and timeless design will always be en vogue. Make sure to keep this in mind when purchasing those key investments for your home!

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Navy is the New Neutral

So if you haven’t received the memo; greys, beige and tans are great but they aren’t the only popular girl on the block. It’s all about color. Yes, that’s right it appears color is making a comeback in a big way (yay)!

One color in particular that seems to be the new neutral is navy blue. I seriously believe that navy blue goes with everything. It’s such a rich color that makes both warm and cool hues look incredible. For example, if you pair it with golds and browns, it gives off such a sophisticated, mature feel. While coordinating it with greys and whites exude a timeless and classic feel.

One of the hardest parts with choosing a dark paint color and in particular navy blue, is ensuring that the color represents its truest form. That is, making sure the color looks the same throughout different times of the day. How dreadful would it be to have navy blue walls in the morning and then see navy/green walls or navy blue with purple undertones in the evening. Ugh!

Luckily, I’ve taken some of the stress out of this situation by rounding up some of the prettiest navy blue paint colors. However; you’re still responsible for slapping these colors up on your wall to make sure they are a perfect fit for your space!

benjamin moore hale navy

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This is a classic blue with grey undertones. This is a very popular color that has been used by many. It would look gorgeous with almost any color trim and flooring selections.

Benjamin moore old navy

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This is a deep and bold blue that is similar to Hale Navy in that it has greyish undertones.

benjamin moore blue note

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This color may not look like much but it definitely packs a punch when used in a space. This bold blue has a bit of green undertones.

benjamin moore polo blue

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This blue is rich, deep, and moody! It would work well in a masculine space or any interior where you want to evoke subdued drama.

benjamin moore gentleman’s gray

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This is a pretty blue gray with juuusst a smidge of green. It would look great in a kitchen, kids bedroom or bathroom.

benjamin moore admiral blue

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A very nautical blue with purple undertones. This hue is lighter and brighter than your typical navy; it would look wonderful in a playroom.

ralph lauren club navy

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This is a perfect deep rich blue that reads neither too warm or too cool. It would look great in both a traditional or modern space.

sherwin williams naval

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This blue is very popular among Sherwin Williams lovers. This is a rich blue and like BM Hale Navy, looks good with both warm and cool hues.

farrow and ball drawing room blue

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This is more of a cobalt blue but is beautiful nonetheless. It would compliment green, yellow and tan accent colors.

So there you have it. You can’t go wrong with any of these blues. And just in case you need to reference this later, be sure to “Pin It” for easy access!

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My Top Decor Accessories When Styling Vignettes

Designed by: Decor By Demi

Designed by: Decor By Demi

Do you sometimes look over at your bookcase or coffee table and let out a huge sigh? Let me guess, is it because the knick-knacks that are currently resting on those table tops feel boring? Yes, you may have several décor accessories filling up those shelves but the impact on the room is non-existent, am I right?

Decorating and styling vignettes is one of those finishing touches that people either love or hate. (What’s a finishing touch you say? Click the link here to read all about it). It involves a bit of skill and a lot of trial and error. You literally must keep moving things around until they “feel right”.

Styling vignettes are one of my favorite things when designing a space! It’s such a great feeling to watch a room come alive once you incorporate and style with décor accessories. Yes MacGyver-like skills are involved but I’m going to let you in on a little secret; it doesn’t have to be that hard!

And the reason why is because there are staple pieces that can be used to help accessorize vignettes time and time again. Wanna know what they are? Of course, you do!

decor accessories #1: books

I’m an avid reader and love to use books when styling vignettes. I generally like to stack about 3-4 books and anchor it with a little decor trinket on top. When styling bookshelves and coffee tables, try to collect hardcover books to create a high end look. If you’re not an avid reader, Amazon or second hand book stores are a great place to find fairly inexpensive hardcover books.

decor accessories #2: ginger jars 

Ginger jars add such a classic touch when decorating vignettes. These blue and white beauties are timeless and complement just about any color palette. I generally like to display them in a grouping to create a statement look.

decor accessories #3: trays

Trays are great for corralling objects and organizing your decor display. They are a great way to incorporate color or pattern to your space as well. Consider mixing shapes when styling; for example I like to use round trays with rectangle coffee tables and vice versa.

decor accessories #4: flowers

I’m not good at keeping plants and flowers alive; so my go to is faux flowers. I invest in high end florals because they are a better quality and look more real. Using floral arrangements and plants add greenery and a softness to your home. They are also helpful in providing a splash of color and an organic feel to your space.

decor accessories #5: something gold

I love brass and gold finishes. They bring a classic feel and such warmth to a space! The gold decor accents allow me to incorporate a bit of whimsy as well. I suggest choosing a finish that has an aged or dull sheen. The shiny gold is a bit cheap and off putting in my opinion.

These decor accessories are tried and true and can be used for any vignette. The key is to pick accessories that you love and to try different arrangements that work for you.

As for rules, there are a few that are important when styling vignettes. When these rules are applied in conjunction with the staple pieces; you’ll have your friends wondering if you’ve been moonlighting as an interior decorator in your spare time.

Learn all about these rules in my FREE Vignette Style Guide here.