December 31, 2012

How Does This Work?

The most common question I get from potential clients during our first conversation is "how does this work?".  Honestly, I'm happy to hear it so I can explain to them how easy it is to become my client.  I think one of the main reasons people don't hire (or even call) an interior designer is because they are afraid it will be too expensive or intimidating.  I'm here to tell you that most designers are neither, including me!

Let's tackle the money issue first.  Every designer is different, but most work one of three ways - hourly fee, flat fee or a mark-up on goods.  Some even employ two of these methods for the same project.

Hourly Fee is probably the most common way designers charge.  Since most of what we provide is a service (not actual materials), we have to charge for our time.  Same as an attorney, accountant or even a hair dresser would.  The average hourly rate is $75.00.  Some designers charge less, but most charge a lot more.  You would be amazed at how much I can get done in an hour and I'm very honest with my clients on how my time is spent.

Flat Fee is similar to the hourly fee as it's based on how much time the designer estimates your project will take or they base it on a percentage of the overall project budget.  Most clients prefer this method as they know exactly what their fee will be.  I've been happy to provide my clients with a flat fee as long as our agreement includes a very detailed list of what services I provide for that fee.  

Mark-Up is how most furniture stores can offer free design services.  Their fee is included in the 100% to 200% mark-up they have on the products they are selling.  Some designers, including myself, will come to an agreed upon percentage and add that to all purchases they make on their client's behalf.  This can work out really well for a client who needs a lot of furniture, art or accessories as they can be assured they are getting a much better price than from their local furniture store.  

Please let me assure you that any good designer will be up front and honest with their fee structure and will create a design agreement where everything is laid out.  Never proceed with a large project without getting a signed agreement.  That would be my biggest piece of advice!

I also want you to understand that most designers pay for themselves in helping you not make costly mistakes.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I wish I had called you sooner" from clients.  It's never too early to consult with a designer.  Not only can we offer advice on your design plan, but also suggest tradespeople who will treat you fairly.  

Now, onto the intimidating aspect of calling a designer.  My best advice when looking for a designer is to ask your friends.  Post a question on Facebook and wait to see what kind of responses you get back.  If that doesn't work, get on the Internet and look at web sites.  Another great source I've found for not only great ideas, but designers is Houzz.  I have a profile on their site that not only features some of my work, but allows users to ask questions about photos.  

Most designers will take on any size project, big or small.  I have clients who just call me to help with some window treatments, while others are building a new house from scratch.  I've never turned down a job because it was small!  Small jobs usually turn into larger ones and establish a life long relationship with a client.

If you still want some more advice on this, here are some great links I've found that would be worth reading:

Insider Tips on Working with an Interior Decorator

5 Tips for Hiring an Interior Designer 

How to Work with an Interior Designer 

I hope this post helps clear up any misconceptions you may have and if you need help on a project, big or small, please call me.

Thanks for Reading,
Jennifer







December 26, 2012

{Purge}...to remove by cleansing

I admit it, I'm a purger.  My house isn't the cleanest around, but very rarely do you find a pile of unread mail, old papers from school or stacks of magazines.  If I don't need it, I'll toss it.  I love having garage sales and selling my used clothes on eBay.  Just don't go into my garage as it currently has become a "dumping ground" for everything that doesn't have a dedicated place in my house.  I can still park my car in there, so that's definitely a plus!

I spent a weekend cleaning out my closet a few weeks ago and I'm finally getting around to write about it.  I have a HUGE master closet and it's all mine!  All of that extra space can be a negative though as I tend to store things in there that really didn't belong.  Here is what my closet looked like before I started.  


 
I know, right?  It's a HOT mess.  To be honest, it mainly just needed a good cleaning up, but it also needed to be rearranged and more organized.  It had good bones, so I only needed to purchase a few new things to get started.  I bought a great basket, a set of pant hangers and a hanging shoe organizer.  I got all of this for less than $15 bucks.  Love Tuesday Morning!


My first step was to create piles on my bedroom floor...trash, donate and sell.  Isn't that what they taught us on all those hoarding shows?  I also had a pile of "it doesn't belong in my closet" stuff that quickly made it back to their correct home.  This process was super helpful and allowed me to quickly sort what needed to go.  These were my piles when I was done.  As you can see, I shop way too much at Loft to have that many bags for donations.


My plan of attack was to first remove all the clothes that I no longer wore to either donate or sell.  I've had really good luck selling my nicer clothes on eBay.  It's time consuming, but it's better than getting only $5.00 for something at a consignment store.  As you can see, I donated way more clothes than I plan on selling.  Unless it's in excellent condition, it goes into donate.  I also have to admit, my donate items looked pretty good to me!

I also decided to go through the dreaded underwear, sock and t-shirt drawers.  Most of those unwanted items ended up in the trash pile.  I can't believe how many white t-shirts I owned or single socks.  I also found a few bras that I know were from college and I'm happy to say they were way too small! :)

Once I got all the unwanted items out of the closet, it was time to organize.  I started with my shoes.  I'm so glad I hung onto those old shoe boxes as they came in handy for my out of season shoes and I didn't have to go out and buy anything.  I needed to store my summer shoes, so I made labels for all the boxes and stacked them on a higher shelf.  When it's time to store my winter shoes, I'll just turn the boxes around and make new labels.  I also used my larger cardboard boxes (the blue and white print) for other items like flip flops and summer purses.  I bought these boxes a few years ago from Ikea and they are the best things ever.  They make the top shelf of my closet look so organized. 

  
I found a great, hanging shoe organizer that I used for all my flats and then I neatly organized everything the rest of my shoes on the floor.  I do need to invest in some of those plastic boot inserts so they stay upright and keep their shape better.
 
Then it was onto the clothes.  I like to organize my shirts by sleeve length and try my best to keep them together by color, but that doesn't always work.  Sweaters have an area of their own as well as my workout clothes (aka lounge wear since I never work out).  I also put all my pants together - jeans separated from my dressier pants.  Then coats and dresses.  

Most of my folded clothing is also stored in my closet.  I've had a wire drawer unit for about 20 years and I love it.  The only clothing that I store in my bedroom dresser are my pajamas.  Everything else is in my closet and it makes getting dressed so much easier.  

One of my other closet loves is a rolling laundry cart with three canvas bags.  I use this daily to sort my dirty laundry into whites/colors/darks.  It makes laundry day so much easier and keeps my dirty clothes off the floor (most days).  


So here is the AFTER shot from my doorway.  There are more detailed photos coming, but this one gives you an overall viewIf you didn't catch it in the BEFORE shots, I had my wedding dress hanging in the back corner.  I could ever justify having my dress preserved as I knew my children would never wear it and it was also so dirty from having my wedding outside.  My dress is now in its final resting place inside one of those blue and white Ikea boxes.  May she rest in peace.  My granddaughters can get it out one day and play dress up.  I still needed to store some lamps I wasn't using as well as some art, but overall I'm pretty stoked with how it turned out.

Dresses, scarves and shoes are here.
So happy to have a place for my luggage.
My closet chest of drawers with the cute basket on top.
If you have an eye for detail, you may notice in the photo above the one place I can enjoy the view of my new closet the best.  I'm super proud of how it turned out and it pretty much looks the same a month later.  Take some time over this holiday break to tackle a project you may have been putting off and if you wear a size 8/10, let me know as I may have some clothes for you to buy as I still have not found time to list them on eBay.

If you need some help with an organizing project, let me know.

Thanks for reading,
Jennifer   

December 13, 2012

Let's Get Cozy

With the cooler weather finally making it to Tallahassee, I'm loving that I can light a fire and get all cozy in the evenings and watch mindless television shows that I'm too embarassed to name here.

So, with "cozy" on the brain, I'm always amazed at what designers can do in small spaces.  I love little desk areas tucked away or reading nooks in places you would never think to use.  Here are some great ideas of how designers made great use of a small space.  Hopefully this will inspire you to look around your own home and see if you might find just the right place for a little hide-a-way of your own.
 
What a great wet bar tucked under these stairs.  Functional and beautiful.  Photo via In the Studio.

Now this is a small space!  Photo via Tumbleweed Houses.

What child wouldn't love to be able to call this cozy space their playroom?  Photo via Bamkapowxo.

 I know this is a bad photo, but I can't believe how tiny this bathroom isPhoto via Relaxshacks.

Great use of space at the front door using floating shelves and storage boxes.  Photo via Decor Pad.

A reading nook is one of many ideas you can do under the stairs.  Photo via Southern Living.

This coat closet has been turned into a reading nook with great attention to detailPhoto via Mashable.
 
Great desk space tucked into a standard size bedroom closet.  Very simple to recreate especially in a guest bedroom that doesn't get used very often.  Photo from Blisstree.
 
If you need help designing your own small space, or any size space.  Give me a call!  I'd love to help you.

Thanks for reading,
Jennifer 

December 9, 2012

Christmas is Coming {Like It or Not}

I'm beginning to feel that holiday stress that I've been trying to avoid.  It started yesterday when I read a post on Facebook about it being "almost two weeks until Christmas".  What!? I don't even have one gift under my tree, much less Christmas cards ordered or even a clue what to get my son for Christmas morningBut honestly, gifts and cards are not what the holidays are about and I know I'll get those done.  What I need to concentrate on are the important things...my son, my family, my health and remembering to say thank you on a daily basis.

Wes and I spent some time yesterday volunteering at The Christmas Connection sorting donations that have come in for local families in need.  We then hit Walmart with a list of needed items and was able to contribute to their store as well.  I struggle with trying to make Wes understand how many children don't even get presents for Christmas, much less toys.  I know he understands, but I want him to REALLY get it.  One thing I plan to purchase for him is a special bank that is divided into 4 categories - spend, save, donate and invest.  I'm hoping to encourage him to save and donate money he earns from his allowance or receives as gifts by matching it in 2013.  More on that in a future blog.


The one thing I'm proud of is that I do have my Christmas gift list done, I just need to get everything purchased and wrapped.  I have a large immediate family - mom, dad, step mom, two sisters, three brothers, niece, nephew and brother-in-law.  We discovered Amazon Wish Lists about five years ago and they have made our gift exchanges so much easier.  

I do need to add that I don't use Amazon for all my gifts.  I believe in shopping LOCAL when you can and supporting small business.  About half my gifts are purchased from other small businesses and I make a conscious effort to do that every year.  I encourage you to do the same.



Thanks for reading,
Jennifer 


November 24, 2012

They Fell In Love

I've been a little slow with the blogging this week.  Between the shower I hosted last weekend, a quick trip out of town, Wes' 9th birthday and Thanksgiving lunch at my house for 12, things were a little crazy.  I know, excuses, excuses!

So, last Saturday my sister and I hosted a couples shower for my brother and his fiance.  You can read about my ideas on this previous post.  It was a lot of fun and as promised, here are some photos from the night.  I tried my best to get more shots, but between my duties as caterer, bartender and hostess, my time was limited.

The cute couple!


The centerpiece on the food table.  I used those candles again at Thanksgiving.





Some of the yummy food.


The Coffee Bar (one of three by the way)


The Popcorn Bar

All the fixins for the yummy s'mores!

Debby, Cindi and Mickey (he loved the popcorn)

Spencer and Katie (with Big Daddy) enjoying the cocktails.

It was a great night filled with family and friends.  We can't wait until we get to celebrate this couple again in February, when they get married!

Thanks for reading,
Jennifer

November 12, 2012

Decorating 101 - Window Treatment Ideas

I love window treatments!  I think they are one of the best things you can add to your room and get the most impact.  If I've heard it once, I've heard it a million times from my clients "I never realized what window treatments could do for my room!".  As the world of interior design changes, I've noticed a lot more ready-made window treatment choices out there in cyberspace.  Some good and some not so good.  With that, I've decided to share a few of my designer secrets about window treatments with my readers.

Draperies
I didn't learn a lot in college about window treatments, but I'll never forget this tidbit from one of my professors..."Drapes are a verb, not a noun.  Draperies drape."  So I always refer to my curtains as draperies, never drapes.  But I digress.  One of the most common window treatments out there are draperies.  You can do stationary ones that just frame your window, or you can do functioning ones that actually open and close as needed to control either light and/or give you privacy.
  • Never mount your draperies right at the top your window.  Go as high as you can or at least half-way between the top of your window and the ceiling.  
  • If you want to be able to open and close your draperies, use metal hardware.  Wood hardware does not work well for functioning draperies.
  • Make sure your draperies are lined, unless you are using a sheer fabric.




One trick I like to use for my clients who are on a budget, is to purchase ready-made panels and add a little trim detail to them.  Ribbon, trims and even buttons are a great way to add a little of your own personality to rather plain draperies.



Valances
I consider any fabric treatment going across the top of a window a valance.  I find myself doing less and less of these, but there are definitely rooms that need "hat" and not a full dress.  Some of the biggest mistakes I see with valances are they are mounted right across the top of the window - go up as high as you can to make your window appear taller.  I also see valances way too long.  I like to use the proportion of 1/4 of the window height and go up or down a little.  For example, your window is 72" long, your valance should be about 18" long.  




Shades
Finally, I find that clients are preferring fabric shades instead of wood blinds or shutters.  I like them because they serve a dual purpose - they function like a blind to give you privacy and light control, but they also bring in fabric on the window.  My best advice about these is to have these made by someone who uses a lifting system instead of a traditional cord control.  Believe me, this extra cost will save you a ton of frustration.



All photos can be found on my Pinterest Board or my website.
 

November 4, 2012

The Color Blue

{Blue is the color of the clear sky and the deep sea} as defined by Wikipedia.  It also happens to be the "it" color in the world of interior design this season.  I personally have always loved blue, especially the darker shades.  

Here are some beautiful fabrics I am loving a little more at the moment...


















If you are ready to add a little color in your world, give me a call!

Thanks for reading,
Jennifer


 

November 1, 2012

The First

November 1st already?  Where did October go?  Actually, where has this year gone?  I've been thinking about all that has happened this past year and I'm so thankful.  I have an amazing son who keeps me on my toes every day.  I have a job that I love.  Most of all, I have an amazing family.


This time last year, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.  In a blink of an eye, our world was literally turned upside downBut between all the prayers, the doctors and my mom's strength she is still here with us - fighting this war that is raging inside her body.  When I look at her, I realize how quickly this year has gone by and how many opportunities I've missed with her.  

One of her favorite holidays is Halloween with her grandchildren.  Last night we had another amazing Halloween with my mom.  We all gathered at my sister's house, ate some chili, then battled with the kids to sit on the front porch for their annual photo.  Here are some photos from years past... 

2009

2010

2012
 
I hope this post will encourage everyone to take a minute and appreciate all the little things in life.  Now, to take my own advice...

Thanks for reading!
Jennifer
 

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