Some interior decorators come in, take charge, and tell you everything to do, and some people want that. I’d much rather be the consultative type who works in partnership with you.
Most importantly, our relationship begins with good communication. Together we discuss vision, style, preferences, budget, and timeline.
Many times, the client cannot articulate her vision or may have not fully formed it. Style and preferred colors and materials are usually easier to express. Budget talks can be tricky if the client isn’t familiar with costs of labor and materials, while timeline may require some flexibility unless workers are lined up and materials have been ordered. In all these instances, then the decorator steps up to educate the client.
Many believe that a decorator is too expensive yet do not realize that I can actually save you money with my professional discounts, knowledge on where to shop, experience in similar situations, and general tricks of the trade. For example, I’m working with a Quincy client right now sewing window treatments for her dining room. I offered an alternative to fully custom work that would reduce labor charges. She was thrilled to be saving money – who wouldn’t?!
To be professional, an interior decorator needs to accommodate her clients. The customer is always correct. I recently worked with a middle-aged woman who purchased a small condo. She was able to clearly articulate her bohemian style, the furniture and colors she wanted, the need to display her antique clocks, and her very tight budget. Before I could suggest we go shopping together for furniture and window treatments, she started buying things online. These items fit her tiny budget and SHE LIKED THEM. In the end, that’s all that matters.
Working with clients is a balancing act at times. Successful decorators listen intently, inspire, educate, at times gently push a client out of their comfort zone (and graciously step back when the suggestion is not taken!) and, above all make sure the client is happy – which brings more word-of-mouth referrals for future clients.
With many satisfied clients since 2008, Barbara Graceffa owns and operates Secretary of the Interior in Quincy, MA offering decorating services at reasonable rates. If you want to suggest a blog topic or have a decorating, downsizing/decluttering or home staging project needing professional help or are interested in hosting a workshop or quilt show, please contact her via her website www.sec-interior.com or phone 617.921.6033.