Interior Consulting Group, LLC

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to work with your Decorator...

How To Work With An Interior Decorator Or Designer

Hiring an interior decorator or designer is a big decision. Most people who hire a decorator for the first time don’t really have any idea what to expect, and this can lead to a great deal of anxiety. Before you find yourself in that situation, read through these suggestions to get the most out of your experience.

1. Be prepared!

Hiring a decorator or designer doesn’t mean that you’re completely off the hook! There is plenty for you to do, even before your very first meeting.
Know your style:

Before you meet with your decorator for the first time, it is important that you at least have a vague idea of what your preferred decorating style is. If you meet with your decorator without even this most basic information, he or she will be forced to spend time–and your money–trying to narrow down your style. You will save money if you have a general idea of the direction you’re wanting to go with the style of your home.
Know your colors:
Just like knowing your style, knowing your colors will also save you money in the end. Of course, you don’t have to have your exact color palette chosen before your meeting with your decorator; but at least have an idea of what types of colors you enjoy. Do you like dark jewel tones? Pastels? Do you prefer bright colors, or more subdued colors?
Again, you don’t have to know the exact colors you want to use. Your decorator will help you with that. But he or she will need a jumping off point, and only you can provide that.
Bring examples:
The easiest way to find your personal style and preferred colors is to spend a couple of hours flipping through magazines. Don’t labor over each and every picture you see. In fact, I generally encourage clients to make this a very quick exercise. Flip through the magazines pretty quickly, and if you see something you like, tear out the page or mark it for reference. Even if you’re not able to pinpoint exactly why you like a certain picture, this information will be useful for your decorator.

2. Be Realistic!

I, just like every other creative and crafty American woman, absolutely love HGTV. I could spend hours upon hours watching that channel and gathering great inspirational ideas for my home.
However, one thing that I really dislike about HGTV is that it has given most people a completely unrealistic expectation of what it’s like to work with a decorator or designer, and of how much their money can buy. So…let’s get real.
Be realistic with your expectations:
On televisions shows, we see a decorator meeting with a new client one time, and then a week later, the decorator shows up with a complete plan for that client’s home, including detailed drawings, selections for materials, finishes, fabrics, etc., and everything is presented clearly and neatly on a beautifully-framed presentation board. Of course that’s the way it happens–IT’S TELEVISION!

But now let’s get real. Although I have heard that there are decorators out there who go to this trouble for each client, I have never met one personally. In the real world, you probably won’t ever be presented with a nicely framed presentation board with the entire design for your room or home. And trust me…you wouldn’t WANT that! Considering that most decorators and designers charge by the hour, the cost for one of those beautiful boards would be far more than you’d want to pay for such a thing.

Instead, your decorator will work through these decisions with you, and it will most definitely take more than a week (unless your project is quite small).
Be realistic with your budget:
Probably the biggest issue that I face with new clients is an unrealistic budget. And again, I think we have HGTV and other decorating shows to thank for this.
On television, we see terribly plain rooms being transformed into beautifully decorated spaces on budgets of $1000 or less. However, if you contact a decorator and expect the same thing in your home, you’re likely to hear some muffled laughter on the other end of the line.

So why can they do it on television, but you can’t? The answer is quite simple–LABOR. On television, their entire budgets are generally used for materials. They can do this because all of the labor is free to the homeowner. They have a carpenter who works free of charge to create the needed pieces of furniture for the room. There’s the decorator or designer who works free of charge to develop the design concept for the room, and make all of the selections. And then, there are the assistants who work free of charge to run the errands and do all of the behind-the-scenes tasks. In addition, the free designer, along with the assistants, generally take on other roles, such as painter, drapery fabricator, and more.

Now cut to the real world, where your $1000 not only has to pay for materials, furniture, and accessories, but it also has to pay your decorator, your carpenter, your interior painter, your drapery fabricator, your tile installer, etc. The list can go on and on. When you look at it in the proper perspective, you can see that it’s pretty impossible to hire an interior decorator and end up with a beautifully decorated room on a budget of $1000.

Be realistic with your timeline:
November is my least favorite month of the year related to work. Why? Because that’s when I get the most phone calls from people wanting their home redecorated before their family comes for Thanksgiving!

When I get these phone calls, it’s generally a good indication that they’ve been watching too much HGTV, where rooms are transformed in 30 minutes.

In reality, decorating even one room can take two months or more. Why? Because good design takes time. It may take you and your decorator two weeks or longer to really solidify a plan for your room. Once the decisions are made, orders must be placed. Custom or special-order furniture can take up to eight weeks to be delivered. Custom draperies can take six to eight weeks for completion. In the meantime, there are other workers who must be scheduled, including painters, flooring installers, and more.
So if you’re planning on having your project completed for a special event or holiday, contact your decorator several months in advance.

3. Trust your decorator/designer:

If you’ve gone to the trouble to find an interior decorator that you feel you can work with, then let her work her magic.

I’ve had several clients in the past who have hired me, only to question each decision that I make, and to stop me from carrying out the full design plan. This type of working relationship will only lead to frustration for both you and your decorator.

Keep in mind that your decorator has the ability to visualize the completed project, and veering from her design plan could lead to a less than desirable outcome.

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Source: Kristi Linauer

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Getting ready to list your home for sale? Here are some great staging tips!

Preparing to sell your home in the Washington, DC / Maryland / Virginia area?
Contact India Thomas for your customized Listing Appointment.  All listing appointments include a complimentary staging consultation!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Interior Design Consultations: What to Expect

1. Call in advance. While I do my best to fit consultations in as early as my schedule allows, typically it is 1-2 weeks from the time of your call. So to avoid disappointment, give yourself time to spare.

2. Be prepared. I arrive at a consultation ready with a paint deck, paper, marker set, ruler, tape measure and iPad to show you examples of furniture, window treatments, etc. on-line, on the spot, to aid in our discussion. You can maximize your time with me by having a list of questions and/or images and measurements of furniture pieces you want to incorporate if they are not already in the room. The more you have ready for me, the more you’ll get out of the design consult. I also encourage you to take notes.

3. Focus on only a few areas. While I inevitably end up walking around the entire house during a consultation to give general tips on window treatments, lighting fixtures, paint colors etc., I like to try and focus on a primary area or areas that we can build on. For me, this means we work out the furniture layout, window treatments, paint colors, lighting fixtures, potential art and accessory placement for one room in totality and I sketch it for you to keep. The sketch is obviously rough and done on the spot, but it will give you a general sense of how I picture a completed room.

4. Maximize your time. While I am in your home, you can maximize your time by being prepared (see point #2) and by silencing your communication devices. Schedule your consult when you know your home will be relatively quiet without distraction, and at a time of day when you know you can focus on all the great things we’re going to talk about to make your home spectacular.Your consultation will last approximately one hour.

There are essentially 2 ways I typically work with clients in my interior design business. The first is full service project management, where I design, implement and oversee the transformation of a renovation or decoration project. Most of the clients I work with want the luxury of hiring a professional who can essentially say- “trust me to handle this”- and then they step back and we do just that. It’s a great partnership of trust and spectacular results can occur when this trust is there. Design fees for this kind of engagement is typically project based - determined by the scope of your project.

The second way I work with clients is by design consulting - by the hour. Consulting services are perfect for: a) people who can take a plan and run with it; b) people who have ideas but could use the help of a designer to pull it all together; c) people who have the funds allocated to purchase home decor items but not to hire a designer in a full service capacity; or d) projects that are ongoing in nature. The fee structure for this kind of service is based on an hourly rate.


Should you need to reschedule your appointment for any reason, please notify me as soon as possible. Our cancellation policy requires that you give at least 24 hours notice. We reserve the right to deny future appointments if proper notice of cancellation is not given.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

'Rich Dad' discusses the importance of HOME STAGING

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It is always a shame when you leave profits on the table. This is particularly true in the area of real estate investing. Many entering into the real estate arena spend time learning strategies, putting together a Power Team, and acquiring marketing skills. Meanwhile, they relentlessly make offers until they find their deal. After they have acquired their property, and despite all of their hard work, few fully maximize their potential profits because they don’t take the time to properly present their property. Novice real estate investors should not feel alone, as many veterans make the same mistake, too.

The little extra touch that goes into the presentation of the property can dramatically alter its perceived value. When the presentation is properly executed, properties move faster, and sell and rent for more. This all leads to more profits for the investor. As a real estate investor, you have invested the time; now, just spend those few extra hours on the fine tuning that makes a big difference in your bottom line.

Many of the suggestions below require a bit of an artistic touch. This might not be your specialty, and may cause a level of anxiety. If you don’t feel you can refine these skills, then you may have someone in your life that can offer assistance. When there is money to be made, there is no shame in admitting that you don’t have a dormant interior designer inside you. If those around you are also lacking an artistic flair, there are several professional companies that can offer their services to help you present your property through staging your home and landscaping. Perhaps after utilizing these services, you can decide to continue to work with them, or you may have learned enough that you can duplicate their efforts in a reasonable manner.

Staging Your Home

When an individual walks into a home, a first impression is made. The nature of this impression is influenced by certain factors that you have no control of (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.). There are things within your control, however, that can enhance your chances of creating that positive first impression in the potential buyer. Home staging is one area that increases the probability of creating a good first impression. Don’t spend countless dollars in attracting potential buyers to see your property just have their first impression be a bad one.

Home staging is a relatively simple process that involves decorating a home with temporary furnishings intended to create a more inviting home. It is likely that you have walked into a home that just had a certain ambiance to it. The home felt inviting, comfortable, and undoubtedly, you gave the homeowners credit for having a sense of style. This is the atmosphere you want to create for potential buyers when they walk into the home you have for sale. When done right, proper home staging can not only create a good first impression, it can create that wow factor that leads to quick closings.

If you have doubts to your creative ability to properly stage a home, there is no shame in hiring a staging professional. Not only do these individuals have the skill set to properly stage a home, they undoubtedly will have creative ideas that will lead you to purchase items that are inexpensive, yet create the desired feel. Many of these items will be able to be used repeatedly in your real estate investing career.

There is always the option to narrow down your home staging to a room or two. If you go this route, make sure one of the rooms you stage is the first room that potential buyers will see. Your second room might be a bedroom, particularly a child’s room that can be done inexpensively, creatively, and help potential buyers visualize their own children growing up in that room.

The bottom line is that staging a home gives you a tremendous advantage over an empty house. In time, it might become your favorite part of the selling process. If you don’t find enjoyment in staging, then the quick sale results you get will be well worth the effort.


While staging a home can help create that positive first impression once inside, it doesn’t hurt to grab buyer’s attention on the way up to the front door. When done in combination with proper home staging, landscaping can help create that one-two punch that makes potential buyers want to buy your property. The effectiveness of this approach will quickly make you become a true believer in home presentation.

Perhaps the single biggest reason most real estate investors don’t invest in landscaping is their fear that it will cost too much. While naturally, you don’t want an overly green thumb to drive your costs overboard, there are numerous things you can do to increase the appeal of the outside of the home without sinking your budget. Simple use of colors, patterns, and a good design can create this presentation without breaking the bank. The proper placement of plants, creating a clean feel to the yard, and a touch of creativity are all relatively inexpensive and go a long way to achieving your objective.

Your overriding goal with your landscaping project is to create a presentation that is appealing to potential buyers. Extravagant features are not needed in order to achieve this goal. You are not attempting to create an elaborate design that will win a contest. Clean and simple is best if you don’t have experience in landscaping. Drive up to the house, get out, and pay attention to what you see on your walk to the front door. What sticks out? What feel empty? What are your impressions?

Much like home staging, there is definitely an artistic element to landscaping. Your own creativity and taste can make a big difference in your landscaping efforts. If you don’t feel comfortable, and don’t have someone that is close to you willing to help, don’t be afraid to hire a landscaping company to create a design for you, or give you a quote that can help you achieve want you desire.

Both landscaping and home staging are avoided because many investors don’t want to put those extra dollars into home presentation. This is beneficial to every real estate investor that is willing to spend the little extra time and money, as their homes will stand out, and simply are more appealing to the average buyer.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Seasonal Decor

Fall...Already? It's that time of year again! Longer nights and shorter days lend their way to old man winter. Pack away your purple plastic picnic plates (say that three times fast) and dig out the Snuggies.

As a huge advocate of "neutral basics", I welcome seasonal changes as an opportunity to shop for new colorful accessories to switch up the vibe in my house. And it's so cheap!

Here are a few tips to aid in the transformation:

- Swap your curtains for a new festive fall hue.
- Coordinate your look with some fresh toss pillows.
- Light a few spicy scented candles.
- Retire your summer bed linens and opt for a heavier quilt.
- Dress the table with seasonal foliage.
- Mix in some new area rugs.
- Welcome your guests with a fall door wreath.

And viola! Say to goodbye to summer. Hellllloooo Fall.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

More area rug advice...

In a previous post, I gave you my blessing to use area rugs on top of carpet. Today, I'm lending some general area rug advice.

Let's start with the one pictured here. It is absolutely my all-time favorite rug in life. Designed by Vivienne Westwood and sold by The Rug Company, this beauty is out-of-this-world...and out of my price range. Not to mention, SOLD OUT.

In fact, most of what you'll find in a retail store is inspired by pieces you'll find at The Rug Company ( All designer and all handmade, you'll have a hard time covering these works of art with furniture. But you don't have to break the bank to stay ahead of the rug trend. Find replicas in your price range. They're everywhere.

I won't advise you on the style of rug to chose because that's a personal choice. I will, however, offer your you these few tips:

1) Choose the right size. 5x8 should suit your standard living room furniture arrangement. 8x10 should do it for your dining room.

2) Whatever the size, your furniture should be either all on or all off. (Your sofa best not be propped up on its two front legs.)

3) Like window treatments, rugs are items that you shouldn't cheap out on. This is especially important in high traffic areas.

4) If the rug is a focal point of the room, select one with an ornate pattern or print. Otherwise, opt for a simpler design.

That's all folks!

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