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Five Ways to Work with a Decorator on a Budget


Window - Valance Floral
Photo C. Nafie

Many homeowners express a desire to work with an interior decorator, yet few actually make the call. Why? Perhaps they've heard about opinionated designers or projects that went over budget.

Yet hiring a designer is the best way for many people to get the home of their dreams. After all, most busy people may be more than happy to turn over the legwork and details to a professional.

If your first thought is, "I can't afford a decorator," then this article is for you. There are actually many ways to work with a professional when you're on a budget.

1. Visit an online design advice website
While this option may have the most haphazard results, the expense is generally minimal. You need to provide room measurements and/or a photograph of the room. In addition you'll fill out a detailed questionnaire. Designers will send back a floorplan and perhaps even color suggestions.

2. Use the free design advice at retail stores
Many large furniture stores have in-house designers who stand ready to assist customers with their decorating dilemmas. Though the advice is free, the designers may be on commission for each item they sell. Of course, they'll come up with a plan that includes their products. You may actually end up paying a high price for their help.

3. Hire an Interior Designer By the Hour
Just need a few ideas, color guidance, or furniture arranging help? A designer can come into your home, listen to your needs and desires, and leave you with ideas, sketches, and even color swatches. Call local design firms to find one with designers who work on an hourly basis. Get the most from your money by writing out questions and a list of your top priorities for a room.

4. Visit a Design Center near you
Residents of major cities across the U.S. (Los Angeles, Chicago, and others) have ready access to large design centers normally available "to the trade" only. This means that only registered buyers and designers have access to the resources. However, many of these centers now offer "designers on call" who can assist the public with these exclusive sources.

5. Do some of the work yourself
When a designer specifies painting, sewing, or minor construction, you can save a lot of money by doing some of the work yourself. Though it may take longer, it can be a rewarding experience to work on these project. Be sure to express your desires to do this when you first begin working with a decorator.

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Hire an Interior Decorator on a Budget

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