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Hiring a Decorator

Many people can furnish a room to meet their basic needs, but to really create a look with taste and polish, even many do-it-yourselfers may need the services of a decorator. A good decorator can help you pick appropriate flooring, choose wall finishes that sooth or add drama, devise workable and attractive window treatments, and maximize the floor space and storage possibilities. Professional decorators have access to showrooms that carry materials not available on the regular retail market, and they usually are aware of craftsmen and fabricators that are normally hard to find. Hiring a decorator can save you a great deal of time and can keep you from making costly mistakes.

If you are thinking of hiring a decorator, consider the following:

  • Professionals can title themselves either decorators or designers. Designers usually have a degree awarded by a credited teaching institution. They are frequently members of professional associations such as the American Society of Interior Designers. Keep in mind, though, that many of the most famous and successful decorators have had no classroom training but rather are often individuals with a natural flair and eye. So donít let a lack of academic credentials stop you from using someone whose work you admire.
  • The best way to find a decorator is first hand experience. There is no replacement for viewing a decoratorís completed rooms in the homes of friends or family. Word of mouth is another good approach, since it is reassuring to know that a decorator has pleased customers. Decorating and furniture stores often make recommendations or have designers on staff. Websites are another resource. Collect magazine pictures of rooms you want to emulate and show them to a decorator you are interviewing, so that you can determine if that person can successfully work in your desired style. As when working with any artist, you should see the decoratorís portfolio and get references from former clients.
  • Make sure you know exactly how you will be billed. Some decorators charge a flat fee for a particular project and others bill by the hour. Be aware that the decorator usually gets a markup on the services of tradesmen such as upholsterers and those who make window treatments and from the sale of fabrics, wallpapers, rugs, furniture, and accessories. As a result, decorators have a preference for the expensive.

The best way to guarantee that you are hiring a decorator you will be happy with is to take the time to define your own goals for the project first. That way, no matter what approach the designer takes, you will be in agreement with the end result.
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