Vancouver Interior Decorator talks about Atmosphere; The one thing you cannot Buy

The talented ladies at The Skirted Roundtable recently interviewed Charlotte Moss and I loved her answer to the question: What is the most essential element of a room?

“Atmosphere. It’s the one thing you cannot buy, it’s not about an object; it’s about the end result.”

Interior by Charlotte Moss

Atmosphere is the reason I always encourage my clients to just skim right past the cost of a custom toss cushion or pillow sham and rather, look at the total cost of the entire project.

Why a toss cushion you ask?

Because the cost difference between an off-the-shelf cushion and a custom made throw pillow is so big, clients always question it. And the difference between a store-bought cushion and a custom made–specifically chosen for your home–is of course the look and feel that is being created.

Charlotte Moss Interiors

Elle Decor interviewed Charlotte in their November issue and one of the questions they asked was; ‘Clients are becoming increasingly design-savvy and sophisticated. Has that influenced your work?’

It’s a double-edged sword, because possessing a lot of information doesn’t necessarily connote knowledge. At the end of the day all that information is good for people to know, because it means they are taking an interest in their surroundings. But I’m the one who has to put it all together and make A plus B equal C.

This week a client called and asked if she could pay me for half an hour to come and choose a colour for her living room. I said “You just need one colour?” Her response was “Well no, I need you to come and tell me what other furniture I need to buy, and help me create the look and feel for the room as well”. Exactly. Which [by the way] takes longer than half an hour 🙂

Charlotte Moss Interior

When [with a designers help] you have created the look and feel that you want, you’ll get happy just walking into your home!

And, if you are spending money anyway, a designer will save you their fee many times over because you will be buying the right furniture, because the space planning has been done in the first place, etc, etc. I explored this at length in my post; Hiring a Designer; Luxury or Necessity. If you don’t have the money to hire a designer for everything, one day of shopping will get you all the basics and a little extra.

Charlotte Moss is famous for her canopy beds! Now how much are those cushions 🙂

It’s funny, the money saving aspect of hiring a designer is mostly lost on people. Can someone enlighten me here? Why does it always seem like it would cost more? You are spending money anyway (if you are buying new furniture, etc) doesn’t it just seem like it would make sense to have everything you place in your home including the colour be absolutely perfect (or certainly as perfect as your budget will allow)? It costs exactly the same to paint the right colour as it does the wrong one, but if it’s wrong. . . well now it costs you even more.

To make sure you pick the right colours download my eBook, How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous email consultation packages here.

To make sure the undertones in your home are right, get some large samples!

If you would like to learn to how choose the right colours for your home or for your clients, become a True Colour Expert.

Related posts:

Interior Design may look Easy; It’s not

The Three most important Words in a Colour Consultation

10 Ways to save money Now by Creating a Focal Point

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  1. Ruthie's Renewed Treasures

    I'm a decorator and was inspired to start my business because so many are intimidated by designer's. We have so many decorator's/designer's that aren't open to sharing their ideas, they cost a fortune and make client's feel like their houses need to be totally gutted before they can even start. My philosophy is to offer my services to clients no matter what budget they have. Sometimes it's what I call a "walk-thru", sometimes it's a total remodel. No matter what their budget is $200, $2,000 or $20,000 I can help somehow. Even if it's a 2 hour consultation, at least they feel like they get a start. I've found that those 2 hour consultation often lead to them hiring me to do everything. I can
    create a vision with what they have (sometimes their things can be used, sometimes not). So many people are stuck because they have tried doing it on their own, partly because they have been watching DIY shows and then can't move forward because they realize it's harder than they thought. I love to be able to go in, untangle their mess and get them on the right track by offering them my hourly services or completely tranforming their space.

    It's hard, hard work but when you listen to your client's and really work with them on their budget as much as possible (marriage counseling very often) they become your friends and the process is enjoyable. The atmosphere is created as they TRUST YOU, know that you have their interest at heart and are willing to stay humble while doing it.

  2. I love this post and the terms atmosphere and grace applied to the designers efforts.As if they have a magic wand, the same old objects look so much better and not out of place. But you see there exists a category of people like me who appreciate all this and its worth yet can not afford it.For me your pages and other similar ones are an inspiration, thank you.

  3. I love your blog and this post. Speaking as a prospective client of a designer, I have three main reasons for not hiring anyone yet. 1.My location- I'm at least 1 hour from any big city, in the middle of the midwest. There are one or two designers in our area and they specialize in what I would consider a grandma-ish early 90s style. I could hire a web-consult design service, but I'm afraid they won't be able to give me a plan tailored to my space until they see/feel my house in person. 2.Price- Unfortunately, much as I love design, I have such a small budget. I realize that doing it right the first time costs less, but when your budget to do an entire room is less than $1000, I don't think I could afford the kind of designer I would want to hire. and 3. All those HGTV shows have given me a false sense of believing that I can handle it on my own-haha! I know I'm not professionally trained, but I enjoy doing it myself and enjoy the learning process of decorating our house over time.

    That said- if I had the budget and a designer I liked nearby, I would love to hire one!

  4. I think if clients thought about budget for the entire project they would see the value of hiring a designer/decorator.

    People are willing to pay $2000 and more to have a painter come in and paint a few rooms but balk at spending the equivalent for design help, which, to be honest would get them so very much more bang for the buck.

    Everyone can learn to paint but not everyone can create the desired atmosphere.

  5. I absolutely loved this post. Megan from Skirted Round Table lives down the street from me and I've become addicted to their interviews. This was one of my favorite interviews she did. I'm a business person who couldn't quit my day job and desperately wanted to do design but everyone was nickeling and diming me and wanted a project done for $2000.00 – that was their entire budget for paying me, the furniture, etc. I know you have to start somewhere but because they are use to watching HGTV one of your commenters made a great point they think it can all be done for that. I live in LA so it's difficult to start a business surrounded by fabulous designers because everyone wants a big name. In the interim, I read all of your blogs and live vicariously through you. I agree 100% on atmosphere. It's the number one thing that makes a room. You can have the most decorated room with no atmosphere. You know it when you see it and to convey that to a client is very difficult because it's the personal touches, the way in which you live in your house, it's the way your company feels when they are in your home. I thought her interview was fabulous and from someone who has met some top designers – I thought she was incrediable (business wise as well). Great post.