#interior design calgary
I hate my interior designer
A friend interviewed prospective interior designers to help her move into her new home.
“Only one of them said I could bring any of my old furniture with me,” she explained. “The rest said my stuff was all wrong. One was emphatic it would cause a design conflict for her – whatever that is.” My advice to my friend: Dump the brand-name designers who insisted she had to live in a world of their creation with all new furniture.
It was an amusing anecdote – in a perverse way – because my friend has beautiful antiques, both inherited and bought over 30 years in London and Paris, as well as Toronto. This wasn’t junk she was being asked to jettison, as if she were a hillbilly lottery winner moving from an Ozark trailer to Beverly Hills. I did venture that some of her upholstered pieces, such as sofas and chairs, were large scale and better suited to the high-ceilinged rooms of her former house than where she was moving.
“Well, of course I wasn’t planning to take those with me,” she said. “I get that!”
Why do some designers want to start with a clean slate and not bring the owner’s personality, as represented by the furniture they’d kept for decades? A client’s furniture could be ugly, or legitimately the wrong scale to work in a new location, but this means editing, not getting rid of everything. It could be a designer has one style, and trying to meld “their look” with anything foreign to it reveals their lack of ability, or is simply too much trouble. Or they could want a client to spend more money with them, and a client bringing furniture to a job cuts into profits.
What else upsets clients? When I canvassed friends, “not listening,” was a frequent answer, with many examples of a designer’s lifestyle choices dominating those of his or her clients.
Then there was lack of disclosure: “She never told me the sun would destroy silk sheers in less than a year. And then she said that was the price you paid to get the look when I questioned her about it.” How about: “I wanted colour, not a lot but some, and he said he didn’t do colour. Didn’t and won’t.”
There were quite a few complaints about general competence, not knowing the difference between Regency and Georgian periods, or other design basics.
There were issues with juniors. “I saw him once when he pitched the job, but that was the last time,” said one disgruntled client. “If the juniors were talented it might not have been so bad, but they couldn’t even measure accurately. I’m paying for him!”
There was a particularly sad group of disaffected clients who hired designers because they needed a friend. The logic was that designers “all do about the same thing, and it’s all equally expensive, so you might as well have fun.” After riotously amusing shopping trips and hours of friendly lunches, the “fun” decorators can produce fabulously banal results.
Billing practices was the top category of issues. Massive retainers that disappear because of an unfathomable number of consulting hours and shopping time billed against them, for instance. Extras often inflated budgets, some very odd such as hinges on kitchen cabinets that must have been thought non-essential and hence not mentioned in the initial quote.
I’ve always assumed that being a designer was hell. You confronted idiot clients daily with no taste, who change their minds constantly who weren’t interested in quality, and quibbled over estimates or didn’t pay their bills. I’ve broadened my horizon. Now I think it can be hellish to be a client, and more expensive too.
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