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Five Things to Know About Interior Designers

Five Things to Know About Interior Designers

Do you feel like your home has never quite lived up to its potential? Are there choices you’ve made that aren’t quite right, and you’re not sure how to fix them? What you need is an interior designer, but what’s the first step?

We spoke with dozens of Calico designers across the country, and asked them five frequently-asked questions:

A lot of people know what they like, but they don’t know how to create it for themselves. They’re unsure of where to start, and don’t have the experience or the confidence to make decisions on their own.

“Everybody would like their home to express their true personality,” says Calico’s Curtis Pew. “But, a lot of people settle for conservative looks in the few colors that big box furniture stores offer, or settle for basic window treatments, never realizing what they could have had.”

Why do people engage interior designers?

Another big reason people hire interior designers has to do with access to exclusive furnishings. People want their homes to stand out from those of their neighbors, particularly in developments where architectural details may be pretty homogenous. To provide something unique, professional designers can take you into exclusive marketplaces – trade-only showrooms filled with fabrics and home goods that aren’t available to the general public. The catch is that most of these materials are very high-end, and you’re paying the designer on top of that, which can make the cost quite expensive. Want to get around that problem and still get the goods? Calico personnel are quick to point to their Luxe Collection, which includes 200+ selections from the exclusive fabrics you usually see at to-the-trade only showrooms, available at Calico for prices that are remarkable values.

What can you expect an interior designer to do?

First, they should listen to you. The skill of an interior designer is in understanding the style of the client, not offering a designer-dictated solution, no matter how beautiful.

“Any designer or decorator can go into a room and create a space that looks great,” says Suzanne Sus, a Calico in-home consultant who works out of the Deerfield store in suburban Chicago. “But if your client can’t live in the space and feel comfortable, there’s no success in that. It has to be who they are and they have to feel good in that space.”

What helps an interior designer define your style?

Do your homework by pinning pictures on Pinterest or cut out examples of things you like from home décor magazines. If there’s something in the room you’re trying to coordinate with, bring the physical object if it’s easy to do – a cushion from a chair, an arm cover, a pillow, a paint or wallpaper swatch.

“If they call and make an appointment, I will ask them to bring me some photos,” says Laguna Hills in-home consultant Terri Barnum. “I have them go on Houzz or go through shelter magazines and come up with looks that they like so I’m able to then assess ‘Oh, she likes beachy, or she likes modern, or whatever the style is,’” adds Tanisha Johnson from Torrance, CA.

Calico consultants find it useful to take first-time visitors on a little tour of the store so they can see what catches their eye among the thousands of fabrics on display, many of which are presented on attractive mini-bolts throughout the store.

“The way I try to help someone who can’t decide is to find out what colors they like first,” says Terry Lamont of the Pasadena, CA store. Most designers find it helpful if you invite them into your home, so they can gauge your taste from things you already own and like… or own and now regret. “Usually, at the first appointment I will bring many different kinds of fabric and different colors,” says Kate Ainsworth Bowles, a Calico in-home consultant in Richmond, VA. “By spending time talking to them and getting a sense of what they like and dislike, that really gives me the information I need to get started on their project.”

Calico In-home consultant Katie Ainsworth Bowles talks about what it’s like to work with Calico

What services can a Calico interior designer provide?

Obviously, interior designers can put together complete floor plans, but if you aren’t in the market for a total makeover, don’t worry.

“We can measure a whole room and decide how your existing furniture will fit in, what needs to be reupholstered, or what new piece we can add to a room to make it work,” says Kate. “We can help you decide what style of window treatments would work best and help find the perfect fabrics to pull the whole room together.”

What should I spend for an interior designer?

Interior design services range greatly in price. At the very highest end, retainer fees can total tens of thousands of dollars before you buy anything for your home itself. The people who are willing to spend this kind of money are looking for bespoke – custom looks that are truly one-of-a-kind – and are often willing to spend five figures on a sofa.

If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind at a more reasonable price point, the Calico designers are a good alternative. They offer free design services, and in-home consultants will even come to your home to give design advice. Calico stores (there are 70 around the country) have a collection of over 5,000 high-quality curated fabrics, so you have many more choices than most other retailers offer. Many Calico in-home consultants are former interior designers themselves, so you get the expertise without the fee. Calico may be best-known for fabric and window treatments (they’re particularly good for unusually shaped or challenging windows) but they also offer new furniture, reupholstery, wallpaper, bedding and a great selection of Hunter Douglas shades.

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