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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Decorator: A Frugal Choice?

Amy Dacyczyn says it thus: Where we live has a marked effect on our sense of well-being. If we are happy in our home we have less need to leave it and spend money. As tightwads, how we feel about where we live is important.

So true. Unlike Amy, with the sense of neatness and order common to graphic designers, not to mention patience and a handy-streak, I remain a messy klutz,always yearning for beauty. I do live in a very pretty house, with high ceilings, tall windows, and old wood floors. That's 75%, if not more.

But the last bit always eluded me. I can almost, but not quite, get things the way I want. Once, when we visited my mother, I marveled at a pillow. How, I asked, did you find that fabric. It is perfect. Oh, Susan did it for me, was the reply. This scenario was repeated--with other pillows, a valance or two, and some upholstered stools. Susan has a color sense equal to any I have seen featured in glossy magazines.

Since my mother helped Susan leave the furniture store where she used to work, by recommending her to friends who needed home beautification, Susan is immensely grateful to my mother. That is why she is willing to give me three hours of her services for $250.00.

Does that seem like a lot? I don't make that much per hour, that's for sure. What do I get? I get an envelope filled with swatches, from which I can select and either order myself or have her send me yardage. I get some paint chips.

Even thinking about finding fabric and the right paint color makes me start to sweat. What would take me many hours that would most likely end in failure and remorse takes Susan perhaps 30 minutes.

With the rest of the time, she drew pictures of various things on print outs of the living room--showing me where to put things for maximum effect.

When she suggested fabric and paint for my kitchen/great room (how I loath that large ungainly space), the room was transformed. I never would have picked yellow bisque as a wall color--not liking yellow--but it is the perfect color. The fabrics are as beautiful in the space as the ones she picked for my mother.

Now my living room may stay a version of the color it is now--terracotta--or it may end up a blue--another color not on my radar. Here is my estimate of costs:

Susan: $250.00
paint: $40.00 (painting done by Mr. FS)
fabric: $200.00
sewing of several pillows and ottoman slipcover: $200.00
burlap drapes: $250.00
this and that: $200.00

Total: $1140.00.

That sounds like a lot for a frugal girl like me, but this is my treat for the year. I feel so lucky to have someone of her caliber work for so little. I know many people who hire decorators, and I never like what they do. I see lots of things I like in fancy magazines, but somehow I don't think Mario Buatta, the Prince of Chintz, would work for me.

Mario and Amy: As John Donne put it contraries meet in one.


Deja Pseu said...

I really wish we'd spent on some interior decorating help at various points in home renovations. We've ended up with a bland mish-mash of decor, most of which isn't up to the rigors of our lives (small house, more human hours spent in each space).

Frugal Scholar said...

@Deja--It's not too late! Susan is just adding the final touches--her choices pull everything together. Maybe you can find someone at a fabric or paint store...

Duchesse said...

Interior designers save you money on both ends. They can get you discounts on what you need and save money, time and heartache by rescuing you from wrong choices.

I recently used a colour consultant, she does paint colour/wallpaper only, $250/hr. (But she is well known, has written a book.) She saved me times over that amount in wrong turns. There *are* levels of skill and talent.

You can choose the wrong designer, then you end up with a house that looks like the designer, or someone other than you. A great one "gets" you and your needs and does not push his or her taste on you.

SewingLibrarian said...

I agree with you, Frugal. With me, it's spending money to fix our backyard. We live in one of the best climates in North America, but our yard is a mess. I know that if I could enjoy sitting there, I would be so much more content. I haven't found the right person yet. But I will!

Anonymous said...

My sister recently hired an interior decorator for her place. She's definitely getting discounts on things like reupholstery that really needed to be done. I don't know how much she's spending on it total though

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--The saving through discounts is kind of true, but decorators generally buy "to the trade" stuff at very inflated prices. Much is custom, also. Would love to see your consultant's book!

@sewing--Interestingly, Mr. FS is just fine on the outside of the house. I can fix writing. You can sew. It's hard when we have to go outside our talents.

@nm--You probably don't want to know how much she's spending!