I was recently consulting with a client from Upstate New York. We were finalizing the colours and finishes for her kitchen renovation. As one last piece of advice, I told her to make sure she did not install the 4" slab of granite on the backsplash so commonly found in kitchens.
She said "I am so glad you mentioned that, because my countertop guy said that my walls were crooked and I had to have it but I don't like the look at all".
One of my designer friends was looking for a new home in the suburbs last year and after touring house after house she said:
"The combination of finishes (tile/countertops/floors/stone fireplace) in 99% of the homes we have seen are so ugly and so bad, it amazes me that it doesn't occur to people to hire a designer even to consult on what they are ABOUT to install. They would save all kinds of money because they'd be doing it right the first time and actually be happy with the result instead of upset once they see how it all looks together."
In all fairness, a good designer is hard to find but once you actually find one, hire them, if even for a single consultation.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer, a consultation is even more critical because your ideas will usually be based on the current trends and have little to do with what is appropriate and will actually coordinate with your existing house (maybe).
If you want free design advice, you'll definitely get it, but it will be from all the salespeople or trades who do not have the entire picture of your renovation in their head.
Your builder or contractor will say 'It can't be done' because they don't want to do it or they don't know how, or worse, they'll tell you to do something unnecessary because they will make more money in the process.
The hardwood floor installer will declare 'That room wasn't square' so that's why you now have a transition strip at the doorway where there should not be one.
Your painter tells you he uses that colour 'All the time, and it works in every house'.
The salesperson assures you that the colour of the tile or carpet you are buying 'Is definitely perfect'.
The person selling you a product should be relied upon for their expertise regarding quality and availability. Conducting a poll with anyone who does not have the design plan for your home is simply foolish.
I recently had a client who purchased all new living room furniture from a high-end furniture store. 'The designer was free', she said. What she ended up with was a sofa that was the wrong scale for her living room, chairs that did not coordinate, clashing undertones, the list goes on. The designers job in a furniture store is to specify the furniture, in their store, not anyone else's (maybe).
Add all this to the free advice you'll receive from your family and friends and the renovation you were so excited about from the beginning might just turn into a mess that's too expensive to re-do and will bother you much more than the old finishes you inherited from the previous homeowner because YOU paid for it.
Are you depressed from reading this now?
I'm trying to jolt you into understanding that a beautiful house, kitchen, bathroom or living room takes a big picture plan and cannot possibly ever happen with 50 different opinions and points of view.
Oh and by the way, there might have been one or more people in all the above possible scenarios who was right and had the correct answer to your design dilemma, but by now you'll be too confused to be able to see the YOU ARE HERE neon flashing sign.
If your renovation was not expensive but you end up with finishes you don't like, NOW it's expensive because either you or the next homeowner will take it out again as soon as possible.
So either stick to your guns on keeping it simple and beautiful or find someone who can help you get to where you want to be. Only then can you have a house that fills you with happiness when you walk in the door.
If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.
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