This week I’m celebrating my business’ Sweet Sixteen! Sure, due to the pandemic it’s a party with myself…but I wanted to share so that you can celebrate with me as well! The podcast has also been around for over six years, so that feels like a win too. But really, the thing that makes these events so special is that you’re here with us, supporting us, and getting value. That’s what makes it all worth it.
To help me celebrate, if you would send a question to the mailbag at affordableinteriordesign.com/podcast , I would greatly appreciate it! I’m always excited to help you!
This episode, I answer questions about…
[5:22] How to handle it when you feel disappointed with interior design services (Lydia)
My husband and I signed a contract with an interior designer for her to provide us with existing plans of our house as well as renovation plans. They’ve so far provided inaccurate existing plans (twice!) and the renovation plans are based on these inaccurate existing plans. We blew the plans up to the same size and laid them on top of each other and there are major differences between them (the renovation is all interior and will not include any exterior changes).
Basically we’ve paid 6k for nothing we can actually use. The inaccuracies are off by a foot here, two feet there and some measurements are so off that the renovation design of an entire wing of our house is not possible because of the discrepancies. We’ve given them the chance to make this right, and we now have a final set of plans from them that are grossly wrong. How should we proceed? In our contract it says that the designer will not refund the client if the designer is in breach of contract. The designer has a great reputation and only glowing 5 star reviews. Do we just have to eat this cost? We’re so sad that we’ve gone through this whole ordeal and paid so much $ and now have nothing to show for it. We don’t want to spend any more time and energy with this designer and we’d really like our money back.
I’m so sorry to hear about this. In a service-based business, there are good providers and bad providers – just like with a product based business. There are good toasters and there are bad toasters, right? When somebody is inaccurate, and when there are problems, you want to first let them know. It always bugs me when a client comes to me because a different designer at our firm didn’t understand the vision or didn’t give them what they were hoping for. Instead of going to the designer, they come to me. The first step, however, should always be to share your concerns with the direct interior design service provider and give them a chance to fix it.
Now, it sounds like Lydia has done that. They revised and produced a new draft, but it’s still inaccurate. In this case, this is not just a matter of taste. It’s not a misunderstanding of style. These are technical inaccuracies. These are numbers that are wrong. If these drawings are so inaccurate that you have nothing to work with, I would circle back and give them another opportunity. You may need to bring in someone else like the architect, the contractor, or whoever is saying that these are not workable plans. That way, all the interested parties are having the same conversation.
If the designer refuses to revise, the last recourse in my mind is small claims court. At least in the state of New York, small claims court only covers you up to $5,000. You will also want to get a third party, like a contractor, to sign off and say that the plans are unusable and they cannot do work based on the plans.
It would also be important to let the interior designer know that those are the steps you will be taking, so they have an opportunity to course correct – because you really don’t want it to go there. Small claims court is very affordable, but it’s tough. It’s time spent filing, time going to the courthouse, time speaking with a mediator, and more. It’s lengthy and drawn out, so you really have to pick your battles. If you give them that third opportunity and it’s still incorrect, however, then that’s where I would go with it.
You can also let them know that you will be leaving them negative reviews to alert others to this situation. I would give them time to respond, and if they don’t do so in a satisfactory way then I would move forward with those steps. It’s not going to be pretty, and it’s not going to be fun. You did your due diligence, you tried your best, and it’s unfortunate. It doesn’t feel good, and I’m sorry you’re going through this.
[15:01] Feeling empowered to have a beautiful home on a reasonable budget (Emily)
My husband and I have been living in Africa for five years and are transitioning back to the USA. Styling this next home is daunting: I’ll still be on a nonprofit salary and it’s been a LONG time since I lived in a home for more than one year and in a country where I don’t have to cross an ocean to bring back suitcases of goods from IKEA. Lots of long-term decisions to make on a budget!
You’ve given me not just a wealth of practical tips but also confidence and enthusiasm to style our home. I’m not a creative person so I never imagined I would be passionate or good at interior design. Thanks to you that’s changed. I’m so grateful for your time, your attitude towards coziness and budget realities that is far more realistic for normal people than other podcasts on interior design, and I can’t wait to put it all into practice.
I bought your book for my sister and recommended your podcast to my sisters-in-law who now are all excited to be learning from you too 🙂 I’ve also added a review on iTunes. Thanks again, and keep up the amazing work changing people’s lives through what you do.
It was so heartwarming to read this note! I really appreciate the feedback, and I’m glad that my tips were helpful. I think it’s such a faulty way of thinking when people feel like they can’t be an interior designer because they just don’t have a knack for it. It makes me upset that so many people give up, when I know that good design is just a matter of proportions, standard sizes, rules you can memorize, and formulas you can follow. It really opens things up and takes it from some kind of exclusive, where only a select few can do this – only a select few can have a nice home – into something that anyone can do. Everyone deserves to have a beautiful home that feels good and reflects who they are.
[18:06] Unifying spaces after building an addition (Sarah)
We have a cabin that has a lot of wood in the interior. We recently did a large addition and the existing cabin and addition are connected by a breezeway. There is currently a door that can be shut between the two spaces (previous exterior door), but it will typically be open and live like one large space. I would prefer to keep the new space feeling less rustic/woodsy, but afraid the spaces will look too disjointed if I stray too far. Currently, the new space has Sherwin Williams Alabaster White on the walls. We are planning on a white wood ceiling with medium tone stained wood beams, stained wood windows and white trim around the windows and doors. The floors are a charcoal polished concrete and we’ll add rugs to help soften the look. We also have one wall where the TV will go that we plan on doing brick or stone veneer. Any thoughts on this plan or how to unify the spaces while keeping the new space a bit more modern? I’ve included an image of the living space in the existing cabin and a few images of the new space – along with the tentative layout for the ceiling beams.
To see the accompanying pictures, make sure you head over to affordableinteriordesign.com/links and check out the YouTube channel or our social media pages.
Yes, the existing cabin has a lot of wood: wood-paneled sides, wood frame trim around the windows, wood windows, wood ceilings, and gray-stained wood floors. The new addition is very different looking. While the floors have a similar gray tone, they’re obviously concrete. There is not as much wood paneling. Based on the pictures, I can understand the concern that it may not feel cohesive or have a natural flow.
One thing I would definitely do is bring in more of the wood from the main room into the addition. I would consider doing a wall of wood that matches the main room, maybe on the wall behind the TV. That would tie it together while keeping it confined to that one accent (yes, every now and again we can use an accent wall and keep it sophisticated). When we’re thinking about making the spaces more cohesive, I’m talking about bringing in elements from one space and using them in a slightly different way in the other space.
So we’ve talked about the wood, now let’s talk about the color palette. Looking at the existing cabin, there is not a lot of really big color to go off of. Certainly there are a lot of tans, browns, taupes, but I’m not seeing color. So I’d want to ask you about that, and since the door is going to be open into the addition, I would want to use similar colors in a different way. I’m totally just making this up, but if the main house is 60% navy, 30% purple, and 10% red, maybe we would want to do the addition in 60% purple, 30% blue, and 10% red. They would share a color palette, so when I pass through one space to the other I feel like I’m in a similar room but that one is not a copy of the other.
It’s not going to share the same finishes, and it’s always going to look different. But the question is, how do we make it harmonious? How do we carry elements through without just copying the elements? We’re not going to install a wood floor in the addition, or panel all the walls. We are going to bring in elements that are used in the other space, but apply them differently. I think that will create a lot of coziness. Then we want to look back at that main cabin and consider whether all the change needs to take place in the addition. Maybe we could paint the trim around the cabin windows alabaster. In the corner, there is a bit of sheet rock that might lead to the kitchen. Could we make that alabaster? We can carry the same paint color, but use it in a slightly different way.
I love answering your questions, so please keep them coming! There’s a handy dandy form HERE. Thanks in advance, and I can’t wait to talk to you again next week!
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