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Thread: Who is Your Favorite Decorator?

  1. #1
    Sarah Guest

    Default Who is Your Favorite Decorator?

    If you had an unlimited budget, who (if anyone) would you hire as an interior designer for your home?

    I were a billionaire, I would have Bunny Williams decorate my house. I absolutely love her eclectic / English country style. Right now I'm reading "Point of View" by Bunny Williams and pouring over every picture in it. I love how she mixes different styles & eras. So many of her pieces have great "patina" on them that she embraces. Unfortunately, my standard suburban home lacks character and will never have the ambiance that her rooms are so full of. Sigh . . . a girl can dream, right?!?

  2. #2
    dr56 Guest

    Default I don't think so....

    Hi Sarah,

    I don't think I'd use and interior decorator as I have gone that route and it has left a bad taste in my mouth for "decorators". I do know there are truly talented decorations eg Candice Olsen and I know many others. If I could afford Candice, yes but I'd have to do much, much research, etc. on any other decorator as we had an alleged "decorator/designer" for a kitchen remodel that ended up costing us much more than our budget and we ended up ending our relationship with her mid through the remodel. We were misled and I'd be hesitant to go that route again. I think with an unlimited budget I can do just fine on my own and buy so much more! Like I said I do have respect for true decorators/designers but I have not come across any as of yet. Just my .02

  3. #3
    organic_smallhome Guest


    I love Bunny Williams, too. If I could find a decorator who was a cross between Bunny Williams and Sarah Richardson, I'd be happy.

  4. #4
    Riddle Guest


    Since unlimited funding is a fantasy for me, I'll go all out and raise Billy Baldwin from the dead to decorate for me!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Alexandria VA


    You know who I would pick? One of our list members...."Artielange". She has the spirit of decorating better than almost all professional decorators I've met in the past 25 years. She works hard at it, and takes chances - and her look comes together very well. She my not have a C.I.D. certificate hanging on the wall, but that's not always a sign of a successful job.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  6. #6
    artielange Guest

    Red face Thank you for the compliment!

    Duane, for some reason I had not seen this comment of yours until today. I'm blushing! I had so much fun choosing everything for the new house and it really was quite a luxury be able to purchase so many Hancock & Moore pieces for the house. You made everything so seamless even with the little hitches that we had with out of stock leathers or confused deliveries. While I in no way feel like a professional decorator, I would like to offer a few of the key points that made my house come together--

    1. There is SO much information available on this forum, Gardenweb, and the internet as a whole. Take the time to study it. The good, the bad, the high priced, the lesser... Develop a keen eye for the "look" that appeals to you.

    2. Have an overall theme in mind for your project. In my case I imagined that our house had been my grandparents lake house and I was updating it while still remaining true to it's roots. Sometimes I would find an individual item that I liked but careful editing kept me on track! I was also careful to keep our lake home truly decorated like a "home" instead of a theme park.

    3. Appreciate quality and use it for the major pieces. I also think it's better to buy preowned American casegoods rather than new imported pieces. Craigslist and Ebay can be perfect for this!

    4. Accessories can be found anywhere -- T.J. Maxx, Ebay, local artisans, outdoors...

    5. Study the decor in Architectural Digest. While the design may not be your particular taste, it will aid in developing an eye for putting things together. Then you can find these small accents in many locations.

    6. Work with the best people. Do not give your business to companies with poor responsiveness. Customer service may be of great importance later on.

    7. Give local stores a chance but do not be afraid to purchase major items from distant sources.

    8. LOVE everything that you choose!
    Last edited by artielange; 08-26-2009 at 06:15 PM.

  7. #7
    Nancy Guest

    Smile What a fun question!

    There's so much to enjoy in the fantasy of working with a favorite interior designer. My favorite magazine is Architectural Digest. I've enjoyed the magazine for 20 years and have sticky notes marking various issues. The June issue every year is devoted to American Country Houses. It is always my favorite. Choosing one interior designer is hard, but I'd have to say Elissa Cullman, Mariette Himes Gomez and Thad Hayes I love the most. Each designer has published books recently, too, which is a big treat when I want to sit down with a morning cup of coffee and dream about great design. What good advice from Artie Lange. Since we have not the budget for a designer, I can say the years of my devotion to AD, really the best magazine for interior design have helped me develop and appreciate my own eye. Even in the realm of architectural landscape, the magazine has taught me so much. Being a visual learner, the photography is a joy to study. I live in rural northern California on 4 acres, with my husband and two sons, in a manufactured home where I enjoy dreaming about good design and slowly applying it's principles as budget allows. My dream home is a Tedd Benson timberframe.

  8. #8
    carmela39 Guest


    I love Vern Yip from Design Star on HGTV and of course Candice Olson does a great job on all her projects. But let's face it, who decorates wthout a budget...when I experimented with a "designer" from a retailer in NJ, I wound up with several subpar pieces of furniture and a sofa that broke down after two years. What junk! and it wasn't cheap. My favorite room in my house is my dining room which I did myself. I bought Henkel Harris and then followed Artilange's lead on accessories from TJMaxx, Home goods etc. Somet imes you would be surprised at your own talent once you have some great ideas from a magazine etc...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Alexandria VA


    There's a trick to using a Decorator's services, and I'll tell you what it is.

    Decorator's are in business to make money. Surprise! They can do that one of two ways:

    1) You pay them hourly or contract basis for the job. $ 80 to $ 100 per hour is not out of line.

    2) They are 'free' (or only charge a nominal small fee) and you get your pieces from them. They do the buying for you.

    TIME IS MONEY. Your Decorator is not your friend, not your pal, nor your coffee-drinking, story-telling buddy. Don't be chatty with them, tell them the job and let them do the work. Like hiring an attorney, the clock is ticking when you use them on an hourly or contract basis. If I were to hire a pro Decorator, I would only do it on Option 1. Why? Its Fee for Service and then I am free to purchase the pieces from the best source and of the quality I want. Either hourly of for the full job (such as $ 1,500 to do the room) and they do ZERO buying.

    If you use option 2, then the Decorator must make money buy buying the pieces at a trade discount and selling them to you for a profit. The problem with that is Decorators can't always source the best piece for the room, and secondly they cannot get the discounts a stocking dealer can obtain. For example, lets say a particular H&M Sofa has an MSRP of $ 5,000. The Decorator is going to get you a discount on it and sell it to you for $ 4,000. However, a store like mine is going to sell it to you for $ 2,800. You can save $ 1,200 sourcing it yourself. Add that up by 10 pieces in a room and savings can be considerable.

    If the Decorator knows you like a tiger maple chippendale chest of drawers by Mark Emirzian that you saw at The Keeping Room, and that Decorator is working 'free', then guess what? That piece gets written out of the proposal because the Decorator cannot source it at any discount. So they take you - the Client - in a different direction to install pieces they can buy at wholesale. End result can be when the Decorator is long gone, you have a house full of pieces you don't like. In some cases cheap substitutions for the quality items you originally wanted.

    Decorators are not mind readers. Don't give them a blank slate. You should tell them the look you like and give them photos of things you have in mind to work from, not only of your room, but of things you have seen that you liked (out of a magazine, etc). The goal is to get help with the look you like, not to say "Fix the room" and take a backseat to the project. The more information you give them, the shorter the project time (less expensive) and more likely you are to enjoy the end result.

    You are going to pay for the services of a Decorator, one way or the other. Think about how you wish to contract for those services before you start down that road. I know most Pro Decorators would much prefer to work 'fee for service', but that seems to not be how most consumers want to engage with them.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  10. #10
    thefurnitureman Guest

    Default Re: Who is Your Favorite Decorator?

    If I had an unlimited budget, I would go for any designers at ethan allen. I love their chick look. But again, like drcollie said, designer's are in business to make money.

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