How do you get from Pinterest boards and Houzz Ideabooks to a finished room? Planning! It's the unglamorous part of the project that HGTV shows leave out. Before you hand over your house keys you must have all those details ironed out. Here are my best tips to ease your way.
1. Nail down the scope of work
Before you meet with a decorator, put together a detailed project list that itemizes everything you want to do. It's important to capture all of your ideas up front so that the project can be accurately costed.
Nothing is permanent at this point; the scope of work is a changing document - and it will certainly change as pricing comes back, or preferred materials are unavailable. It's helpful to know what items on your scope of work are non-negotiable and which will be the first to go if you have to scale back to stay on budget. (Psst: heated bathroom floors are always worth it if you live in Toronto!)
2. Get the right help
A contractor is not a decorator and a decorator is not a contractor. Sure, some contractors have good design sense - especially those who do a lot of work with designers - but don't talk to a contractor before you have a plan. You'll end up with a price estimate based on builder basic materials and then get hit with thousands in additional material charges when you decide you want real hardwood floors and a waterfall-edge quartz counter. Best to know all of your costs up front so you can adjust your plan or budget before you spend a dime.
A decorator translates your ideas and wishes into a workable plan that is shared with a contractor at a walk through. The plan is discussed in detail, potential problems are identified, and solutions or improvements are offered so that the project is ready to be accurately costed.
2. Know your budget
It will be one of the first questions you'll be asked, so it's important to have a range of how much you have to spend on your project. While it's perfectly OK to have a price range, don't be coy with the number thinking that the decorator or contractor will spend to your maximum. A custom drapery treatment could cost $1,200 or it could cost $12,0000. Knowing if your budget is $15,000 or $75,000 informs fabric and finish selections and indicates your personal expectations about the overall level.
Always ask the contractor for a quote with line-by-line pricing so you can evaluate per item and do an apples-to-apples comparison between quotes from various contractors.
Something to think about is whether your budget includes HST and design fees. If so, make that known so the budget for furnishings and labour can be adjusted.
3. Have second and third choices
Be ready for compromise and changes - they are inevitable. The hickory floor you chose has a three month backorder and you have to choose something else to keep the project moving. Or the marble you had in mind has gone up 15% due to currency fluctuations and you are already at max budget. Having back-ups for finishes in case of price or timing issues is a great stress reducer. Making decisions under pressure is never a good feeling.
4. What is your timeline?
As soon as possible? Then you'll need to consider in-stock finishes and furniture. Custom goods and special orders often have long lead times. It's a shame to spend hours looking for the perfect chandelier only to discover it ships from Italy and takes 12 weeks and you need it it three.
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