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Sometimes I wish things would just slow down. The hectic pace of daily life and modern technology while exciting and productive can become impersonal and alienating. I find myself yearning for a more connected face to face experience with the actual PEOPLE I am dealing with.

Is it just me? Am I showing my age? My name is Cynthia Weber, I own a custom interiors business with my husband Kent. We also write a design and lifestyle blog called A Button Tufted Life. There, we share our design projects, travels, and musings.

For the very reasons I mentioned above we have chosen to keep our business small, this allows us to maintain a personal connection with each client.

One of the huge benefits as I see it of hiring a small interior design company is that connection.

Cynthia Weber and husband Kent

I become personally involved and invested in every project I take on. I get to know my clients as people and build a design concept around their needs, wants and budget.

Many of our past clients have become great friends. It is not uncommon for us to have keys to a clients home long after the project is done, “Just keep them, I know we will want you to do something else for us soon.”

They trust us and we don’t take that trust lightly.  As a small firm we have our hands on all aspects of a project. My clients will never hear “Oh, sorry, didn’t my assistant get back to you on that?” or “I’m just going to put you on hold and find out who was arranging that for you.”

People seem to find this reassuring and refreshing.

Kent and I take on a wide array of projects and at the core of each one is a desire to improve the lives of the person or family that has entrusted us with one of the most important aspects of their lives… their home.

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Cynthia Weber's Custom Home

A Small Firm with have a Distinct Design Philosophy

This is our home that we custom built a few years ago. Clients come to the studio, have a tour of the house and get to know who we are as people. I find this a huge asset.

Decorating a home is personal, and I want my clients to feel comfortable in my home so they can feel confident having me work in their home. If you would like to see more of our home click here.

But, Enough about us. If you think that you want to hire a small interior design company for your home project start asking around your area for references. Take the time to research, after all, if you aren’t willing to make the personal time commitment to find the right company for your needs, then you can’t hold them responsible for not filling those needs.

Communication is key, don’t expect mind-reading capabilities in the people you hire. Lets say you have researched and decided on a small company to hire for your interior renovation project. Set up a consult and be prepared to discuss all aspects of your project at the meeting.

I will give you an example of what you may want to have ready for an initial consultation on your renovation project.

Make a List of Your Goals:

  1. Picking paint colors for the main floor.
  2. Furniture layout.
  3. I need to use my existing dining room suite in the design, because it is a family piece but … I hate it, so is there a way of changing it?
  4. A quote do the painting.
  5. I would like you to include a styling package for accessories, art and finishing touches to bring everything together.
  6. I would like drapes for the living room.

Timeline for project:

Have a general idea of your expectations for completion of the project and PLEASE mention any restrictions for access i.e. if you work nights and don’t want anyone in your home in the mornings… please mention it!  If you have Aunt Sally coming for holidays the 24th – 28th and don’t want anyone working during that time… yup, you got it… PLEASE mention that!

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A BUDGET for your project:

This seems to be very hard for people, and I understand completely…. You don’t know exactly what to budget, maybe you don’t know what things cost or you are afraid to put a number on it…

As I see it, the bottom line is this:

The person you are hiring is just meeting you. They have no frame of reference for your current financial situation and discussing money is uncomfortable… but I can honestly say, I can design around most any budget. It may be unrealistic to include all the aspects you were dreaming of within that budget but if that is the case then a competent professional will start looking for other options (repurposed pieces vs. new pieces, lower price point fabric for draperies, for example) in other words, it is workable… but if you don’t give them any frame of reference… then they are flying blind.

They may end up designing a plan that you fall completely in love with… but it is is not anywhere close to financially possible for you. But if on the other hand you had said: “We would like to keep this project between $20,000- $25,000, we will not be able to extend it above that so please keep it in mind when you are sourcing.”

Now, your professional knows not to source a $15,000 couch, but that they can look at fabrics in this range and furniture in that range… you get the point.

One more thought about budget:

The consult with your professional is NOT the place to have a “couples” discussion about money. If something comes up in the consult that changes your ideas, be honest and say you need to discuss it in private and get back to them. You will be happier and so will they.

Being on the same page with regards to the scope of your project and the budget you can give it is paramount to a successful result. If you can’t agree as a couple then you are setting whomever you hire up to fail… they won’t be able to please both of you.

I have given these examples as if your project was interior decor related because that is my field, but the same principles would apply to preparing for a meeting with any trade professional. And I hope you find just the right small interior design company to help you make your home everything you want it to be!

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Cynthia Weber is a formally trained and accredited interior decorator and a member of the Canadian Decorators Association, CDECA.  Located in historic Bayfield, Ontario, Canada, she and her husband Kent work together providing custom residential interior services. Please visit our website CynthiaWeber.com for a full list of services, E-Design, shop and the blog A Button Tufted Life…

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Note from the hosts: Thanks out to Cynthia. I recently met her, well, up in the Facebook, when topic of Holiday Decorating round-ups came up. Hint – don’t be surprised if you see a Christmas decorating post that is something of a collaboration in the next week or two.  For now, if you would like to find out about any of the services Cynthia (& Kent) provide, or to follow along, here are her vitals: Interiors Website and E-design Services. Her blog: A Button Tufted Life

For more on Working with an Interior Designer, please see our series with Elizabeth CB Marsh. Thanks. ~jb