7 tips for working with a decorator

Ellen Miller
Written by Ellen Miller
Updated April 4, 2013
The owner of this Baltimore row house helped cut decorating costs by shopping for some items, including a hot pink table and pair of slipper chairs. (Photo courtesy of Mary Yeager)

Do you want to hire help for a redecorating project? Two of seven tips for working with a designer include: Have a budget but be flexible. Also, be realistic about how much time the process will require.

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Considering an interior decorating project, or hiring an interior decorator? Take these tips into account:

Don’t fear decorators. “A good interior decorator will work with you,” says Mary Yeager, a highly rated decorator in the Baltimore area. “Designers are not snobby people who are going to come in and rip your house apart. These are people who want to work with you."

Have a budget, but be flexible. Yeager says she works hard to respect clients’ cost constraints. “But almost always people go over budget some, because they start going online and into stores and fall in love with something.”

Start small. “I can choose colors for a whole house in less than two hours,” Yeager says.“For some projects, I’ll provide an overall scheme and you do parts of it as you get the time, energy and money."

Be realistic about how much time a project requires. “HGTV spoiled me to think that everything is instant,” says Angie’s List member Lindsay Porter, one of Yeager’s clients. From initial consultation to arrival of the final accessory, her project took about four months. A custom chaise was available after almost 10 weeks, and a chandelier was on back order for several weeks.

Be wary of buying some things online. “If you’re going to sit on it, it’s really important that you try it out, to make sure the back is comfortable or your legs don’t dangle,” Yeager says.

Make sure all who are affected participate. “If a couple is involved, it’s important to start the process with everybody who will have input, at least for the initial consultation,” Yeager says.

Be willing to withhold judgment until a room comes together. Yeager says she needed Porter's trust that chairs with a bold turquoise design would work with a gray, patterned rug. “Once everything came together, she loved it all,” Yeager says. “But the middle of the process is not a good point to make major decisions. You really need to wait to see it as a whole.”

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