Design Downer

TV is not one of my favorite things with one exception- anyone that knows EbonyMom well knows that I have a bit of a love affair with HGTV. I’m still not quite sure when it happened but over the years I went from mainly enjoying watching sitcoms to watching little tv with the exception of design shows.

HGTV has proven to be very empowering for me because I truely believe that surrounding your daily living existance with beauty and things you love truely nurtures and inspires your spirit in many different ways. For years I just watched, inspired but rarely ever doing anything. Selling our home in Atlanta finally led me to start focusing on how to help my home reach a level of looking great for myself and for someone to actually buy it. The staging we had done was incredibly successful and professional so we knew we’d like to find some sort of stager to help us get things together on this end.

As usual my search started where it always does- online. It was surprisingly very difficult to find any sort of interior design evaluations but through diligence I tracked down someone who I felt could be a good fit for our home setup.

Firstly let me state that interior staging has nothing to do with having tons of money or throwing down and purchasing a brand new home full of high end furniture. A truely good stager can do incredible things working with what you already have. This was our experience with our first stager who set us up so well our home initially sold so quickly we couldn’t believe it (of course the sale fell through but her staging had nothing to do with it- just incompetent buyers). Living in a space that flowed well and felt good changed so much for me. Cleaning was no longer a chore but an enjoyable experience for my clutterfree and put together home. I finally had a peaceful and serene living space instead of just a random pass through full of possessions and clutter randomly thrown together.

Our desire for our new home to be a cohesively thought out design lead us to our new designer we’ll call her D-D (Dallas Designer). I contacted her via email to get a consultation and was immediately impressed by her quick response and seeming attention to detail. She had a kind and very energetic spirit which I instantly connected with. Our initial design consultation didn’t just feel like getting on track with the design of a home but connecting for a lifelong friendship for all aspects of my home. D-D is not only a certified, degreed award winning interior designer, but also owns her own furniture store.

This was the best of both worlds for us because we hoped to finally purchase living room furniture we loved rather than just settling on the old pieces we’ve been carting from state to state in cross country moves. Everything went well- she presented us a design plan and we moved forward by paying upfront for all expenses because we trusted and believed in her completely.

Our first few consultations with D-D went great- quick response, immediate attention to details and requests, but within a week things started to go downhill. Promises of appointments were simply never followed through on. We kept forgiving, accepting excuses offered because we truely wanted to believe the best was going to happen. But after 2 months of missed phone calls, ignored appointments, late night deliveries, broken “new furniture” and appointments (including a botched paint job because painting at night simply doesn’t show you all the spots you can see in full daylight), we still held out hope that somehow things would still work out. With the exception of the paint color I didn’t care for the way any of the design had turned out up until that point, but I was desperately holding out hope that the final finished product would somehow transform a blah space into an incredible interior.

Then one day the end finally arrived- we called D-D’s furniture store to find that the number had been completely disconnected. No forwarding number. Emails unanswered. And absolutely no returns of any voicemails left on her cell phone. Our patience had finally reached the end of the line.

Thankfully D-D had requested my consultation on some websites for her friends and family so I was able to go through their information and contact them to track her down. Not only had she moved her store and changed phone numbers, she’d completely changed the name of her business. When we finally did reach D-D she was completely shocked that we weren’t happy with her design selections (she didn’t consult with us on most things, just swore she knew we would LOVE them), tired of the failed appointments and sketchy conduct, and wanted a refund.

We finally resolved everything, returned the poorly constructed couch and sofa and received a partial refund. We could have fought for more but at this point I was just happy to be done with this situation and move forward into finally finishing our living room so we can actually invite more family and friends to visit. Here is a list of things I’ve learned for future reference:

When looking for an interior designer:

1. References are a must, be sure to investigate and get a thorough idea of who you are hiring (we did not bother, trusting all that we were told)
2. A design portfolio should be professional, well laid out, and reflect designs which are to your personal liking (D-D’s portfolio was an old photoalbum with poor badly lit dusty pictures)
3. Your design presentaton should be thorough, including multiple options for fabrics, paint, etc. (D-D was sketchy, cut out pictures slapped with elmer’s glue onto a plain posterboard, and had no fabrics whatsoever)
4. Your designer should consult you for all decisions (D-D thought she knew what we liked- but never bothered to ask!)
5. Preview all fabric, furniture and items before they are ordered (D-D showed us pictures and websites but we never saw a single piece of furniture until it arrived at our home)
6. Never ever pay all upfront (We paid D-D everything and in hindsight realize we should have worked out some sort of 1/2 now 1/2 on completion arrangement, or at least paying when we agreed to furniture we actually saw in person first)
7. Communication is very important- ask what their communication policies are up front
8. Know exactly what you like and never be scared to let them know, even if you are slightly unsure don’t stop until you know that you love each and every item to be used.

D-D has taught me some huge lessons. I’ve been in a bit of a slump after dealing with this entire experience but thankful that at least we were able to recoup some of our losses. I’m not sure if or when I’ll feel comfortable seeking out another designer so for now I’ll be seeking my design advice from my HGTV friends.


i love HGTV and i wish i knew how to make my house look like the ones on tv.

design on a dime–love it

Comment by tanyetta | May 11th, 2007 11:06 pm | Permalink

Whoa! I had no idea it ended that badly! Too bad b/c you really seemed to like her. :-/

Comment by Dee | May 13th, 2007 1:29 pm | Permalink

D-D is not only a certified, degreed award winning interior designer, but also owns her own furniture store

Wow, even with all those qualifications, it still turned out badly.

Anyway, my mom loves HGTV. I never even heard of the word “staging” until I heard it from her when my parents decided they wanted to sell their house!

Comment by Tayo | May 19th, 2007 11:47 pm | Permalink

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