Frequently Asked Questions
Designer… Decorator… Stylist…I’m confused! What’s the difference?
All three titles are design professionals who can help you decorate your home. The three terms are often used interchangeably, but there are differences in their definitions. An interior designer is generally a person who has a two or four year degree in interior design and focuses on the functionality of the space, technical aspects, and the structural elements. In some states, in order to use the designation “interior designer”, you must be licensed by the state or a professional board. As of this writing in Florida, there is a distinction between residential interior designers and commercial interior designers. Anyone who performs interior design for commercial properties, including restaurants, hospitals, and even multi-dwelling common areas like clubhouses, needs to be licensed. Interior designers who work on residential projects do not need a license to practice in Florida and anyone can use the designation.
An interior decorator is someone who adorns the space with beautiful things like furniture, window treatments, and area rugs. Decorators generally focus on colors, textures, and patterns to create a finished, polished looking room.
While much of what I do includes interior design and decorating, I enjoy the work of an interior stylist because a stylist creates a mood in a space using elements that are already there. Interior stylist often work with photographers to stage a space for a magazine shoot or with set designers for film and tv. A stylist can work with existing furniture and breathe life into a space with art, accessories or a new arrangement of furniture. Just like a fashion stylist pulls together a great outfit for the red carpet, so does an interior stylist pull together all the elements needed for a great looking and feeling room.
What should I expect when working with a design professional?
Working with a design professional is similar to working with any professional like architects, general contractors, attorneys, or financial advisors. Your designer will schedule a time to meet with you at your home or their place of business to discuss your project and learn about your goals and budgets. No design work happens on this first visit, it’s an opportunity to get to know each other. Be sure you have a budget in mind before you meet with the designer. Talking about money and budgets can be tough at the first meeting, you might not want to share that much information with someone you’ve just met! But, it’s critical for the designer to be able to understand the scope of the project and what types of expectations you have. We understand your trepidation and concern. You may worry that if you tell the designer you want to spend $20,000, the designer will spend the entire amount. But that is the point. The designer will give you the absolute best design they can for $20,000. If you really wanted to spend $15,000 but you’d splurge on an exceptional piece, then tell the designer that. Say, “I was thinking about spending about $15,000, so please target that amount. However if you find a really special piece that would be perfect for the room, show me that as an option for up to an additional $5,000.” Being up front and setting clear expectations is the best way to start any relationship.
You should ask your designer a lot of questions about how they work, how they charge for their time and products, who will be your contact while working with their firm, how long they think the project will take, and how will they be communicating with you (weekly via e-mails, bi-weekly calls, etc.). You should review the designer’s portfolio and be sure you like their style. That doesn’t mean you have to love every project they’ve every done, but if you are looking for rustic country charm and the designer only does urban modern, you may not be a good fit. Most design professionals can work in a variety of styles, but working with someone who has a similar aesthetic to yours will make the project much smoother. And lastly, you should feel comfortable with your designer and feel like you can trust them. You will likely be working with them on a very intimate level for several months and they will be learning all about how you live and what is important to you. If you don’t feel a connection, you should interview other designers to find the one that you feel understands you and you click with.
Once you’ve found the designer that’s right for you and your project, your designer should give you a schedule for the design phase, the procurement phase, and the installation phase. You should receive regular status updates so that you know how the project is progressing. It can be a bit unnerving to hand over a large check and then have to wait for several months for the project to be completed. That’s why communication is so important and is a top priority for our firm. Rest assured that the design team is hard at work placing all the orders, coordinating the receiving and inspections, correcting any problems and making sure everything is satisfactory before it arrives at your home.
When the happy day finally arrives to deliver and set up all your new furnishings, what the designers call “installation”, at our firm, we coordinate with the delivery service and the professionals to install all your new window treatments, hang pictures, install lighting and other services. This can take one day for a small project and a week or more for large projects. It might be very tempting to stay and watch all the commotion, but it is best, and much more exciting, to step back and allow the professionals to complete the project before your see the final result. Once you get your big reveal, if you’d like to make any changes you can work that out with the designer after everything is set up.
What if I have a problem with something I purchased from a designer?
Each designer has different policies for warranties, so be sure you understand those policies before you make purchases. For our firm, we transfer the manufacturer’s warranty to the client since they are the owner of the item. However, if our client has a problem with any item we purchased for them, they should contact us first to allow us to assist them in the process. We definitely want to be aware of any issues the client has because we want to source the best products and we want our clients to be completely satisfied with not only the look, but the performance as well. We do everything in our power to make it right for the client as quickly as possible. So while the warranty is officially with the client, we don’t just tell you to call the manufacturer. You call us and we work on your behalf.
How long does it take to complete my projects?
The length of time it takes to complete a project depends on how complex it is and how purchasing is done. For our firm, after our initial meeting and agreements have been signed, it takes about 1 month to complete the design for a one to three room project that doesn’t include construction. Whole house projects take a bit longer depending on the number of rooms.
When the design is approved and if the client is continuing on with procurement, custom furniture typically takes 8 to 12 weeks to be delivered. Some items, like custom rugs can take many months. If all the items are being purchased locally, assuming everything is in stock, delivery can happen in a few weeks.
How much does it cost to make my space look like one I’d see in a magazine?
That depends on the magazines you read! It also depends on what you are trying to accomplish in your space. To start from scratch with an empty room, it might cost $150 – $200 per square foot for design fees and good quality furnishings and it can go up from there depending on what materials and sources you prefer.
Why does custom furniture cost more than furniture I can buy at a local store? And what’s the difference?
Custom furniture versus mass produced furniture is similar to the difference in generic packaged cookies and a dessert prepared by a pastry chef. Custom furniture is built specifically for you by a craftsperson with skills in woodwork and upholstery. With custom furniture you get to decide on the style, dimensions, how firm the cushions are, what type of springs and frame you have, what color stains and finishes are used, what type of material it’s covered with, and you get to add details like contrasting piping or trim. Because each item is made by hand and is unique, there is a greater investment required and it will take longer to deliver. You may choose not to have every item in your room custom made, but the pieces that are used the most are the ones where you will get the most satisfaction from your investment.
What if I need contractors like plumbers, carpenters, and electricians? Can you refer me to someone?
Why should I hire Resort At Home when I can get design plans really cheap online or do it myself?
Hiring an interior designer is not for everyone. Our ideal clients want to work with a professional because they either don’t have the time or the inclination to do it themselves. They are also more likely to work with professionals for other services like financial investing, accounting, travel, and real estate because they value the expertise that a professional can provide. Professionals know the most effective and efficient ways to solve a problem. They free their clients up to enjoy doing what they love doing whether that is traveling, golfing, fishing, running a business or spending time with their families.
Why do you focus on just resort-inspired style? Why not do whatever the client wants like American Traditional or Old World European?
We focus on resort-inspired design because it’s what we love. If you’ve ever had a complete a task that didn’t inspire you, you might get it done and even do it well, but did you enjoy it? If you enjoy something, you generally do it well. That’s us. We do the coastal, beachy, tropical, resort look really well. Can we apply the same general design principles to other styles? Sure. But wouldn’t you rather work with a designer who specializes in the area you like the best and really gets you? So please be sure you’ve visited our portfolio pages. We don’t do cookie cutter design, so don’t expect the exact same look in your home. Every design is created especially for you to help you live your best resort-inspired life.