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Here’s my first attempt in a very long time to share something with you that I feel is worth your time.  So let’s get right to it!

Thinking of Hiring a Decorator?  Here are some things to keep in mind when considering using professional decorating services:

I have found, in my experience with starting my own decorating and Staging business, that more times than not, the general public is unaware of what to expect when considering to use a professional decorator or Stager, (not to mention a licensed designer.)  I’ve written this article to give people a better idea of that expectation when hiring someone to help with a decorating dilemma.

First of all, I want to point out that a decorator, designer, Stager, or whatever professional you choose, is not just someone with artistic abilities, that person is also a problem solver.  When you choose the right person, you are choosing someone who will be using experience, talent, and hopefully education, to help you get exactly the result you want, whether you know what you want or will be figuring it out as you go.  That professional’s job is also one of a psychologist, someone who will have to help you sort through all your indecisiveness and eccentricity to steer you in the direction in which you want to be.

To begin with, it will help to know what kind of budget you are willing to spend on professional services.  Someone put it to me in this perspective:  Unless you are hiring a Stager, you are hiring a decorating professional as a personal luxury.  You do not need a professional decorator to help you live your life.  This is not a service you can’t live without.  You should expect to pay accordingly.  Not all decorators charge outrageous fees, but don’t expect to pay someone minimum wage for the services they will be providing.  Most decorators probably start their hourly fees at $75.00, and some may not charge hourly at all.  Some decorators may charge per job, square footage, or another method they’ve found works for them.  You’ll want to keep this in mind when figuring out an initial budget.  If you don’t know where to begin when creating a budget, think of a figure you definitely would not want to spend, and then you can work backwards with the help of your designer.  That also works well for those of you who think money is no object…  When it comes down to it, everyone has a limit.

When you make the decision to start interviewing decorators, Stagers, etc., you want to find out certain things over the phone or through email before taking the next step towards meeting in person.  This will save both your time as well as the designer’s.  First, you want to make sure that the person you hire has both talent and education.  Find out what kinds of jobs they have worked on, where they may have received education, and if they are members of any professional organizations.  Do they have any certifications or specialties?  You want to be sure that this person keeps up to date on all building codes (if working with a designer) and is up to speed on all the latest trends.  This will help when deciding if you want to go with the what’s-in-now or tried-and-true classic style of décor.  Being a member of at least one organization (such as ASID, IIDA, or IFDA) can help a decorator stay informed.  Check to be sure the professional is licensed to do business and also has insurance.  Don’t feel shy about asking for proof.  You can even ask for personal and professional references.  You may want to make a list of questions to ask before you place the first call.  The decorator will have questions for you as well, so be prepared to answer questions about the job you’ll be hiring them to do, as well as what your budget may be (yes, they will ask this).  They will probably ask you a few personal questions, too, such as: are you married, who will be the final decision makers, do you have kids, pets, etc.  (Some of these questions may not come up until a face-to-face interview.)  Also, it never hurts to let someone know if you decide to go with another designer or firm, or if you just decide not to use a professional at all.  This is more for someone who comes out for a face-to-face interview as opposed to a telephone interview.  If a designer takes the time to come meet with you and you decide not to hire them, a simple phone call or email letting them know is appreciated.  You don’t have to go into detail as to your reasons, unless you are comfortable doing so.

And finally, you want to feel comfortable with the person you decide to hire.  After all, many friendships are formed between a decorator and a client.  You tend to learn a lot about each other throughout the whole design process so you want to be able to trust this person.  But you also need to realize that this is a professional relationship first.  Don’t take advantage of your decorator just because you’ve become friends.  This person has worked very hard for the knowledge and experience they’ve gained, so try not to ask for free favors or opinions.

Good luck in your search for the perfect decorator.  I hope this article has helped shed some light on the process!