As you consider what your home improvement budget will allow, we’re taking the opportunity to explain what the benefits are to engaging an interior designer early on.  And while this may seem a bit self serving, we think you’ll be glad to establish continuity in your space, follow a logical sequence for your projects, save money, and have fresh ideas for your project.  Want to know more?  Read last week’s post that explains all of this in detail.

This week, I’ll be explaining how you can prepare to work with an interior designer.  Read on:
Settle on a budget.  We know that talking about money makes people nervous and that you haven’t remodeled in the last five years, so maybe you don’t know what things cost in this market.  Perhaps you aren’t sure what you’ll spend yet and your priority is loving it–so you’ll spend a little bit more if you can assure you’ll love the end result.  Bottom line, though, everyone has a budget…they usually just have a difficult time articulating it.  If you can’t quite put a number to your budget, ask your self what number would make you nervous or keep you from doing the project.  If you aren’t sure what would be reasonable, ask your designer to give a general ballpark as to what she thinks the project can be done for.  If you can communicate a budget, Eheart’s designers will get you there.  We have a creative trick or two up our sleeves and can help you get creative about your materials, decide where to spend more and where to spend less, and ultimately balance your budget with a beautiful design.

Get ideas.  Walk through your home and make a list of the things that you really do like.  Page through magazines at a book store and buy the ones that have pictures of things you think are stunning.  You don’t have to like the whole magazine picture to flag it–maybe you just like the paint color, or just like the way it feels, or the lighting…  Once you have a pile of clippings, your designer can page through and probably name your style.  Most people have a fair amount of consistency in what they pick initially and it usually communicates enough that a designer can get a feel for your taste.  Every designer is different, but I like to walk my client’s homes before pulling together finishes for them.  If I see their space, I can pull together what I think would make sense for what they have and what they love more quickly and more acurately.  Coming into our showroom can also help.  We’ve got bathroom and kitchen vignettes, so you can get a feel for how knotty alder cabinets might look in your space, or how a mosaic tub face would feel, etc.

Here’s a letter I recently received from a happy client who came in skeptical about using a designer:

We’d just like to thank you again for all you’ve done for us over the past month or so.  When Bob and I first decided we were going to remodel our master bathroom, I was really excited.  I had a vision of what the bathroom would look like, and couldn’t wait to jump in and get started.  I searched store upon store, but couldn’t find what I was looking for.  Either the quality of the products was sub-standard, or the products were outrageously expensive.  I even spent hours looking on the internet, but to no avail. 

On a whim, we stopped by Ehearts.  We had been there before, but never worked with a designer.  We assumed we wouldn’t be able to “afford” a designer, or that they would never be able to work within our budget.  But then we met you, Emily.  You said you would definitely be able to work within our budget.  The first time you came to our home, I took you on a whirlwind tour, showing you what I liked and didn’t like about our house.  Then I took you upstairs to the master bathroom.  Immediately, you knew exactly what it was I was hoping to achieve, without my even talking about it.  But more than that, you had design ideas that I never would have thought of.  You envisioned much, much more than I ever could have, and I absolutely fell in love with your design.

On our way to Ehearts to see what products and finishes you pulled together for us, I prepared Bob in the car.  I told him not to fall over when you presented the design and how much it was going to cost us.  As we approached the table with the design layed out, I gasped.  Everything was STUNNING!  Better than I ever could have imagined!  But in my mind, it was not do-able within our budget.  I was so disappointed.  When you told us the price range for the design you presented, it was my turn to fall over.  It was within our budget!  How could this be possible? 

As we worked to iron out all the details, we very much appreciated all you did to help us remain within our budget.  You worked extra hard to provide us with products that met all our needs — stunningly beautiful, yet reasonably priced. 

–Bob and Mary Kay Meininger

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