Posted in Life

Working With an Interior Designer

Since I lived in one home the last 15 years, it hadn’t occurred to me that my furniture might not ‘work’ in a new home. Our rugs were the wrong size, we went from two living room type spaces to one, and I realized just how much of what we had came out of my parent’s house.

I never thought we’d want to work with an interior designer. I think I have a pretty good eye and decent taste. But, I found after we moved into a new place together that Jordan and I couldn’t agree on anything. In addition to not liking the same things, I learned Jordan couldn’t “see” something. I.E. I bought home two chairs to be reupholstered, and he was solely focused on how ugly the fabric was. He just could not see the lines. I realized I got totally overwhelmed by choice and was best when given parameters of what to look for or limited options. I also just really dislike trying to mix prints, patterns and colors. I don’t think it’s my forte. I like how things look when it’s all done, but I don’t’ find it interesting to put together for myself (or quite frankly with other people).

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I decided to blog this process because I had NO idea what to expect and thought it might be helpful for others who are considering hiring a designer. Originally, I thought interior designers were for rich people in fancy houses. But, I asked what people on Instagram and got a lot of support for working with a designer at any budget, that I decided to go for it.

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Listing Photo of Living Room

Enter our **designer. I selected our designer for a couple of reasons. I wanted to work with someone local, she had a great eye from what I saw on her IG, she had an actual working website that was extremely well written, she was very responsive to my initial email, and we got along well. Full disclosure: I went out of my way to make sure African Americans were heavily represented in the pool of people I reached out to and hopefully also lived in Baltimore City limits. I can talk more about that in another post.

 

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What came with us after our moving purge

First Steps:

The Designer had Jordan and I create a joint Pinterest board with rooms and details we liked. As expected, we were all over the place. He liked dark rooms I’d liken to a wooden clad games room. I liked bright colors and prints and a LOT of pink.

Before we started working with our designer, I replaced the dining room light with that modern sputnik influenced fixture. I also bought the Acacia wood table (seats up to 10) and china cabinet, but the dining chairs belonged to my parents. Rugs are 30+ years old from my parents, sectional was in our basement and belonged to Jordan’s aunt from 1976, yellow floral chairs from a second hand shop.

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Current state of living / dining room

Our main goal is to get our living room and dining room set up. We wanted to reuse as much furniture as possible, buy vintage and recover whenever we could and keep costs under budget. We can’t afford to do EVERYTHING decorwise we want in these spaces, so we had to focus this year on what the most important things were: recovering furniture, and getting rugs that fit– with the right size and scale. Yes, we need to paint, get new dining room chairs, and do ‘something’ about our mirror heavy / dated fireplace unit. But, those things will have to wait until 2020 or even 2021.

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So, I’ll stop here. Next update — picking rugs or what I call, “The one thing I knew I needed help with.”

**I’m choosing not to use our Designer’s name until after the project is completed.

24 thoughts on “Working With an Interior Designer

  1. Anxiously awaiting next post! I really enjoyed doing this at your age. Now, not so much. It’s exciting to make a new house your home. I hope you enjoy the journey.

    1. This whole thing made me realize that my last house kind of designed itself, because I just used what I was handed down. I weirdly realized I liked finished spaces, but not the process of getting there. It has been a real learning experience about my marriage and how we want our home to look.

      On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 7:47 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  2. I’ve worked with interior designers twice . . . the first time, in Northern Virginia, when I totally renovated my small condo and needed expert advice on furnishing my small space. Worked out very well, especially when it came to picking textiles for the sofa/chairs and window treatments. Yes, I have a good color sense and so do you . .. but when you are confronted with all the possible choices, your eyes glaze over! Same with paint colors. It was really helpful to have a professional do all the legwork and homework to figure out the best choices for my space. Your new home looks terrific, will enjoy seeing how you transform it into YOUR home.

    1. You have this exactly right, Allyn! I totally glaze over when presented with 25 options. Give me three and I’ll tell you which one I want. I’ve had friends start to animatedly talk about paint colors, and I just zone out. If you’re ever back up north, let me know. I’ll give you a tour or the sewing loft!

      On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 8:59 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  3. I’m looking forward to your redecorating project. I have a mismash of ideas in our house also, from 40 years of making due and then developing blind spots to it. A word of warning – the cost to reupholster furniture can be shocking. I had a small camel back sofa done and it cost as much as it would have to buy new :-O I can do small chair cushions myself, but that sofa was beyond my time and confidence resources.

    1. You’re not kidding about reupholstery! I’ll write more about this when we actually finalise our fabric choices. But, it is a conscious decision to spend what it would be to buy new. The sofa was in our basement and we loved it. It seats a lot of people and is structurally sound and well made. To get that kind of quality new today would be outside of our range. So, we can recover it for the cost of a new West Elm sofa, but hopefully it will last a bit longer and not end up in a landfill. I totally developed a blind spot about our old cream furniture. When we moved it to this house (not pictured) we both looked at it and said, ‘this actually looks 20 years old’. Luckilly, I was able to donate some to a refugee family relocating to Baltimore.

      On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 11:03 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  4. I am redecorating my living and dining room space. I’ve thought about using a decorator to help guide my ideas. Thanks for posting this. It’s very encouraging.

    1. My grandmother and aunt in laws both used decorators and it showed. Their homes weren’t my style AT ALL, but it all looked seamless and put together. Far bolder and smarter choices than I would have made. Possibly if Jordan and I agreed on taste, we might have just done it on our own. But, we both feel much better having someone weed through options and giving us a coherent plan. I kind of balked at the additional expense at first, but she’s saved us a lot of time and frustration already with options. Also, she really just thought of things I wouldn’t have considered. Not sure if that helps, lol!

      On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 2:35 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  5. I am so looking forward to reading about the rest of your experience, and your tips for choosing someone to work with. We’re not in quite the same situation, been in the same house for years, but I’m just feeling stymied with what I really want to do next. I’m just down the road in DC, but know it will be a whole different pool of people for me to choose from, but I know your experiences will be very helpful to follow.

    1. What I can’t quite wrap my mind around is once this is ‘done’, how often do you really update to keep things fresh, but not go broke? My old home didn’t change all that much. I’m hoping the same is true here! But, we’ve all been in homes where we could see a refresh would be helpful. I love DC, but for this project, I’m very much enjoying Baltimore prices 😁

      On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 3:17 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  6. I agree that you will have a home that looks and feels like your family home years sooner with a good expert’s help.
    You are at the ideal stage to enjoy reading Decorating Your Home With Love by Mary Crowley. Don’t be concerned about the dated illustrations. It isn’t mostly about trying to get you to buy her Home Interiors products sold via house parties in her peak years of 70’s and 80’s. Rather, she gives some timeless advice and some good stories about doing little things with love that make a house a home. It won’t change your style but I feel sure you’ll enjoy the read, and it’s a quick read.

    1. Thank you for the recommendation! I’ll check it out. Dated illustrations make it more fun!

      On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 5:25 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  7. Every time I watch one of those HGTV shows with a couple who have totally opposite style and taste I thank goodness Seth and I have very similar tastes. I also get to pick the colors. You made a smart choice deciding to use a designer. Hopefully fewer headaches

  8. I’m really interested in seeing how you progress! I can see the challenge of moving into an even slightly different style of home and having things look not quite the same. My parter makes almost all the decor choices in our place, I contribute to layout, but not so much to style. I would leave the walls bare for years and don’t have a coherent style at all! If we were to move to a different type of home, I’m sure it would be a huge challenge. Hope you’re having some fun with it all!

  9. Can’t wait to see more. I love that sofa!!! It reminds me of Rob and Laura’s from the Dick Van Dyke Show. With a facelift it will be a better sofa than a modern one and you’ll be able to make it something really special.

    I had to laugh when you talked about Jordan fixating on the upholstery of the chairs. My husband and I have this problem all the time. I am constantly putting together pictures on the computer to help him get past a specific feature he’s stuck on, and sometimes it’s just a lost cause.

    1. I started teaching myself Photoshop for JUST THIS REASON! My favorite was when I showed him a chandelier photo in a room. His response, “I like it, but that room has a lot of angles. Our house isn’t like that.” Me: “ANGLES? DO YOU MEAN WALLS? BECAUCASE WE HAVE THOSE TOO.” That’s when I knew it was time for an intervention. I love that sofa too! It’s got fun lines and is kind of groovy. I have high hopes for something velvety.

      On Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 11:38 AM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  10. Can’t wait to hear more about this process! I can totally relate to having different taste from your partner- it makes every decision that much more complicated. I weighed a thousand options before finally settling on a rug for our bedroom, which was swiftly rejected by Blake and is currently rolled up in my closet (1000 eyerolls!). I hadn’t considered working with a decorator as I’m so stubborn about my taste, but I’ve been stumped for a couple of YEARS now over what to do with the living room- I want to tie the couch reupholstery to the art on the wall behind it, and then reupholster a chair to compliment those two, but I can’t seem settle on one of those so I can decide on the other two! It’s so paralyzing!

    1. I was all set to try tackling upholstery myself, but Jasika told me it’s incredibly rough on your hands. With my tendonitis, that’s going to a pass for me. What you’ve described about what you want to do is EXACTLY what I need out of my designer. I like so many things. I need someone to help me streamline, but tie it all together. I am honestly nervous about ‘getting it wrong’ and having to live with something for years. But, yeah! I found it just paralyzing.

      On Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 12:12 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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  11. Here’s something I learned when doing my reno (half house demo and rebuild, half restoration), which is ongoing and has been in the works for 3 years: My husband and I are both extremely opinionated and bossy and we know what we like (for ex. my extremely design-forward mother was an interior designer for years and I did consult with her but routinely told her she was wrong and went the opposite way :-)). What I realized, in a bolt of near-genius, dare i say it, is that we don’t need to like all of the same things. We just need to agree on one option. So I came up with all of the options I could be entirely happy with and then presented them to him and he ruled them out until we could agree on one. It was surprisingly effective and didn’t take any longer than fighting. I now use this approach with practically everything and everyone. This is one of the greatest lessons my reno taught me. Note: I’d have been happy to forgo most of the lessons. 🙂

    1. LOL! I definitely learned that for picking out fixtures. Here are five I can live with, and he ended up picking the one I liked the most. Jordan has been surprisingly opinionated in telling me EXACTLY what he hates in what I show him!

      On Wed, Jun 26, 2019 at 4:12 PM Miss Celie's Pants wrote:

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      1. The one other thing I’d add is that, when you go your own way, you do end up having those who may capitulate (the husbands) and those you seek advice from (the mother) tell you that your final choice is crazy and it’s gonna be a total disaster. That is until they see it done and then they have to mea culpa. Cuz I won’t settle for anything less 🙂 OMG – if I had not had the conviction of Mies van der Rohe, I would have rolled over a zillion times and I’d be hating things!!

  12. And PS – it’s great to know yourself (as you do)! I knew that hiring a designer was not my path, that I needed to create the vision of my home entirely for myself. I have worked with designers in the past and I, personally, didn’t enjoy the process. But a friend of mine was horror-struck at the thought of redecorating her home (she knows what she likes but she doesn’t know it till she sees it, and she doesn’t like constant online/in shop leg work). For her, it was a great way to proceed and she’s super pleased. My one piece of advice is that, if you feel at any time like your vision isn’t being captured in the process, don’t linger. You should never have to “fight” with a designer to get what you want.

  13. I’m interested to see how this plays out. I am actually considering doing the same thing. My kitchen needs some updates . I’m not sure how it would be working with a designer.

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