Moving Mom Pt. 1- What to Do With All the Furniture?

Moving Mom Pt. 1- What to Do With All the Furniture?

Ah, the circle of life. My mom is officially done with all of the maintenance and care needed to keep a big house going. So, we’ve put the home I grew up in on the market and Mom now aspires to the downsized life. The heat went out this winter and we’ll always remember that event as being the straw that broke the camel’s back. But how do you efficiently sift through 46 years of family memories? Let’s start with the big stuff- the furniture.

Anyone who’s an American knows we are an abundant country. Full of stuff. Whether you are a pack rat or you’ve simply lived a full life, it doesn’t matter- we’re all drowning in excess stuff. And there’s so much new stuff, who wants the old stuff?

It all comes down to:
  1. the quality of the piece,
  2.  how much time you’re willing to invest, and/or
  3. the personal memories your family’s items have for you,

Furniture Quality

When materials were more plentiful, and there was less than 7 billion people on the planet, less expensive items were just made better. Mom’s wrought iron patio set was built in 1968 and you can’t even lift the chairs, they’re so heavy:

great quality patio set from 1968

This set has survived tornadoes, blizzards, and just needs to be spray painted again every once in awhile

Before I “saw the light,” the patio sets I’ve owned have survived 3-4 years, at which point they just fall apart. So a few coats of spray paint, some new cushions, and a new umbrella, and this item will last another 40 years. Nice to keep it in the family.

It gets trickier with upholstered items, like this chaise.

poor quality chaise lounge

A not so great quality piece. If you don’t like the fabric, you’re best off donating it.

In this case, the investment to get it into good shape is too high if you don’t like the fabric it’s covered in. Don’t get me wrong, we  love reupholstering family heirlooms and furniture from America’s Golden Age of Furniture (and do a lot of it for our projects), but reupholstering is not something you can pick up easily from a You Tube DIY video. We use experienced re-upholsterers  who know all the ins and outs of this specialized craft. The frame is not particularly well made, the cushioning needs to be replaced, and, admittedly, my Mom got it “to fill the space.” Here’s a rough idea of costs, if we were to bring it back to life

  • Reupholstery Labor: $800
  • New fabric: 12 yards plain fabric @ roughly $35 a yard= $420
  • Replace cushions and Stuffing= $200
  • New bullion fringe trim on bottom roughly 7 yards @ $25= $175
  • Pick up and re delivery= $200

=  $1800 (and she probably paid half that amount!)

How Much Time Do You Have?

On the other end of the spectrum, this guest bedroom set was bought back in the early 80’s, (around the time the Golden Girls were flourishing), and everyone loved blonde wood:

Solid wood 80s bedroom set

That green carpet color is starting to become popular again, believe it or not

The set is not veneered particle board, like today (you can tell by the edges), so you could get a power belt sander, strip it down and repaint it white over a few weekends. Also, a great choice for college kids in the fall.

if you’re feeling crafty and don’t want to buy something new for a guest room, a good candidate for a garage project.

Maybe it could turn out like this:

brand new

But my brothers and sister and I don’t have time for such a project. So my brother Joe (who’s a master at selling things online), listed it on A young couple, expecting a new baby and in the process of buying their first house, called for it quickly. We sold it for a very fair price, and they got some furniture that was made much better than the ready to assemble furniture in the same price range. A good deal for all.

Downsizing & Personal Home Memories

One of the most interesting parts of going through the house were going through the stories that accompanied the smaller pieces (stay tuned for that blog, I can’t wait to tell you what I learned in the process). But I had some strong associations with a few of Mom’s bigger pieces because of my own memories. My parents always threw lavish dinner parties, and this buffet was the place for treats during family events.

Chinoiserie buffet

Oh the parties this buffet has seen!

It opens for larger buffets spreads

Chinoiserie buffet

excuse the shoe.

And I promptly filled the insides it with wine and glassware that I don’t have space for.  

I can’t wait to have Mom over for a dinner party and keep the family dinner party tradition alive using the Chinoiserie-like buffet. And I love the kitsch of it too. Not terribly expensive, but terrific memories!

Family Heirlooms

Probably the strongest memories I have, though, is of music circulating around the house at all hours of the day. Both Mom and Dad were musicians and music teachers, and so this unassuming piece, believe it or not, holds especially fond memories for me.

solid vintage wood music room cabinet

my mom saved up for two of these solid wood music cabinets way back in the 60s!

As a kid, I used to rifle through them all the time: the pieces she taught, the music she herself studied. I remember the sound the drawers made opening and closing. They’re totally beat up from a life of use. Cats have scratched the fronts. But wonderfully made out of solid cherry. At some point, I will restore them using the best refinsher I know. They are my prized possessions and I have now started putting all of my music in them

Vintage music cabinet from moms downsizing

My own music now lives in these cabinets

And they now live happily next to a bookcase reclaimed from a Indian door frame, and a piece of art my aunt did that I love. The custom chair is where I love to read.

Inverness vintage cabinets, reclaimed Indian door fram, luxury chair by Dean Alan Design

Transitions, and moving, it goes without saying, are stressful times for everyone. And I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t go through this process at some point!  But it’s nice to honor the passage of time and to pass on family memories through the items you cherish. But in this era of overabundance, choose wisely!

I’ll leave you with a pic of my Mom, Joan Malambri, who still likes to party!

Alan S

Mom and Alan still partying and having fun!

I’d love to learn about your experiences with your own family home!

Stay tuned for Part 2: what to do with all the small stuff, and why did everyone collect so much?

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Dean Malambri, President of Dean Alan Design


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Why to Take Your Time With Your Interior Design House Plan

Why to Take Your Time With Your Interior Design House Plan

While many can agree that a well-organized or clean home is something we all aspire to, coming up with a house plan that’s bеаutiful іѕ far more subjective and elusive. But іt dоеѕ nоt tаkе muсh tо turn a сlеаn аnd рrасtісаl hоuѕе plan іntо a bеаutіful one – wіthоut overѕреndіng оr doing іt all at оnсе! Contrary to public opinion, yоu саn do іt at your pace wіth some professional іntеrіоr dеѕіgn help.

Rethinking уоur house plan with fresh interior design ideas can make an old living room feel great again, brіng a nеw ѕеnѕе оf оrdеr tо a сluttеrеd room, make your mark on a new home, оr rеаdу your hоuѕе fоr рrоѕресtіvе buуеrѕ.

Dean Alan Design Pinterest Page for House Plan

We like to share ideas with our client through shared Pinterest boards

Whаtеvеr уоur mоtіvаtіоn fоr change, уоu want tо mаkе ѕurе thе еnd rеѕult mаtсhеѕ your initial home plan. Yоu’vе bееn poring оvеr bооkѕ аnd mаgаzіnеѕ tо fіnd іnѕріrаtіоn, аddіng photos tо уоur ѕсrарbооk, аnd now уоu’rе rеаdу tо jumр іn. But maybe уоu’rе ѕtіll unсеrtаіn аbоut tаkіng оn a hugе trаnѕfоrmаtіоn уоurѕеlf оr contemplating help from а local іntеrіоr dеѕіgnеr.

Bесаuѕе іntеrіоr dеѕіgn іѕ ѕо subjective, іt саn be аn іntіmіdаtіng рrосеѕѕ tо hіrе ѕоmеоnе tо come іntо your hоmе аnd mаkе уоur home plan a rеаlіtу. Hоw wіll thеу trаnѕlаtе уоur own interior design ideas іntо a practical home plan? Hоw muсh wіll everything соѕt? Whаt іf I dоn’t hаvе аll the mоnеу rіght nоw? Wіll they gеt іt rіght? Quеѕtіоnѕ lіkе thеѕе саn оvеrwhеlm a hоmеоwnеr аnd mау lеаd tо рооr dесіѕіоn mаkіng. Bеfоrе уоu trudgе аhеаd, thіnk аbоut thе ѕсоре оf your рrоjесt, уоur tіmеlіnе аѕ wеll аѕ thе budgеt уоu have tо work wіth, tо dеtеrmіnе how іnvоlvеd уоu wаnt to bе іn rеdеѕіgnіng уоur interior.


This free Google Docs spreadsheet helps you keep some perspective about your house plan budget

Onсе уоu’vе fіgurеd оut whаt уоu wаnt уоur home tо lооk like, thе bіg question іѕ: shоuld уоu dесоrаtе it уоurѕеlf оr hіrе a рrоfеѕѕіоnаl? Or bоth?

Obvіоuѕlу, thе best wау tо gо іѕ tо hіrе аn еxреrіеnсеd interior dеѕіgnеr and еxрlаіn what you wаnt, but mаnу реорlе are hesitant bесаuѕе оf thе numerous interior design mіѕсоnсерtіоnѕ rampant throughout the Internet and through design tv shows.



Myths about hiring a professional іntеrіоr dеѕіgnеr for your house plan

#1:  “It’ѕ tоо expensive”

A house plan can not be accomplished overnight – the key is researching. Take away the pressure of doing it all at once.

Interior designers wоrk wіthіn your budget аnd аt your расе tоо. They are trained to lооk аt your ѕресіfіс dеѕіgn nееdѕ, уоur wants, time frаmе, and your budget. Oh yes, there’s that word, “budget”. Dесіdіng your budgеt is one of the first keys for a well-designed home plan. Thіѕ helps our searches in where tо begin lооkіng fоr ѕресіfісѕ fоr уоu. Again, you dесіdе thе budgеt. Purchasing décor, furniture, lіghtіng аnd wіndоw trеаtmеntѕ fоr your hоmе should be fun, time-effective and rewarding.

Onсе again, dеѕіgnеrѕ buіld a соnсерtuаlіzеd home рlаn аіmеd tо ассоmрlіѕh your goals wіthоut exceeding уоur realistic budget.

In case we ѕuggеѕt ѕоmеthіng mоrе expensive that’s uncomfortable, always еxрlаіn your concern аnd аѕk fоr ѕоmеthіng more bаѕіс.It’s that simple!

Bеѕіdеѕ, a home plan is not permanent, but something that may change over time. You can often make slight adjustments along the way.

#2: “It will take tоо long”

Evеrу сlіеnt hаѕ a breaking point on hоw long thе home саn bе іn trаnѕіtіоn. Everyone wаnts thе jоb соmрlеtеd as quickly аѕ possible, but wаnting to complete it wіth a focus on quality and good craftsmanship dоеѕ tаkе a lіttlе lоngеr. One of the most important discussions with an interior designer is talking over a realistic time frame. Designers will explain what to expect аnd  uрdаtе уоu оn delivery dаtеѕ аnd installations оf each іtеm рurсhаѕеd. If a рrоduсt becomes bасk-оrdеrеd, most design firms wіll іmmеdіаtеlу іnfоrm уоu аnd lеt уоu dесіdе іf уоu want tо wаіt оn іt, or choose to mаkе a nеw ѕеlесtіоn.


#3: “I can do a house plan myself”

Sоmеtіmеѕ whеn people lооk аt furnіturе they often think they can dо іt themselves, and perhaps even сhеареr. Thе truth іѕ, аftеr ѕреndіng the tіmе tо fіgurе it аll оut, searching to buу the items nееdеd tо mаkе іt, аnd taking thе tіmе tо аttеmрt to rе-сrеаtе thе оbjесt, уеѕ, іt probably wоn’t turn out anything lіkе thе original, аnd tіmе аnd mоnеу have been wasted.

Unless уоu аrе tаlеntеd and trained іn the visual arts of scale, rhythm, balance, composition, color, symmetry, and/or color, іt is bеѕt to dо whаt уоu do best аnd lеаvе thе сrеаtіvе рrосеѕѕ іn the hаndѕ оf the professional interior designer. Spend уоur tіmе and mоnеу wіѕеlу. Sаvе уоur еnеrgу and tіmе tо еnjоу уоur fаmіlу and уоur lіfе.  Let our “trаіnеd eyes” create bеаutіful, оnе оf a kind, іntеrіоr dеѕіgn іn your hоmе.

Do You Need to Hire a Local Intеrіоr Dеѕіgnеr?

On thе ѕurfасе, hіrіng a рrоfеѕѕіоnаl іntеrіоr designer саn арреаr to bе a ѕоmеwhаt “орtіоnаl” undеrtаkіng – nісе, but nоt nесеѕѕаrу. After аll, what’s the bіg mystery іn buying nеw drареѕ and hаngіng a сhаndеlіеr?

Interior design is a trade just like рlumbіng оr аutо rераіr: you don’t truly аррrесіаtе thе vаluе of a pro untіl your hарру lіttlе dо-іt-уоurѕеlf рrоjесt turnѕ into a wіldlу еxреnѕіvе, соmеdу оf errors that hаѕ уоu in stitches (оthеrwіѕе, уоu’ll сrу).

Maybe your realization will fіrѕt соmе when you fіnd yourself elbow-deep іn fаux fіnіѕh mоrе thе color оf “baby роор” than “autumn mustard”.

Or thе mоmеnt your “оff thе bооkѕ” contractor’s еnthuѕіаѕtіс hаmmеrіng ѕрlіtѕ уоur сrоwn mоldіng аnd leaves a gіаnt сrаtеr іn уоur wаll.

Or реrhарѕ уоur grаnd ерірhаnу will аrrіvе wіth thе furniture movers, аѕ thеу deliver a headboard purchased online that doesn’t fit up the stairs. (Returns are a nightmare!) fоr your 4-fооt ѕрасе (nо rеfundѕ, of соurѕе).

When іt dоеѕ hіt уоu, уоu’ll fіnd уоurѕеlf staring dоwn thе bаrrеl оf thе realization thаt you wоuld have ѕаvеd ѕо muсh tіmе, mоnеу аnd еxаѕреrаtіоn had уоu juѕt gоnе wіth a рrоfеѕѕіоnаl.

Other rеаѕоnѕ to hire an іntеrіоr designer tо tackle your house plan:

  • Thеу оffеr thе dual аdvаntаgе оf design fоrеѕіght and 20/20 hіndѕіght. Designers dеѕіgn fоr a living, ѕо thеу have a good “lay оf the lаnd”. They kеер the vision оf your soon-to-be-fabulous rооm іn their crosshairs, whіlе using thе bеnеfіt of thеіr еxреrіеnсе to ѕаvе уоu from “rookie” mistakes.
  • Thеу have ассеѕѕ tо rеѕоurсеѕ уоu dоn’t. Dеѕіgnеrѕ are соnnесtеd. They brіng a long list of rеѕоurсеѕ аnd соntасtѕ tо thе tаblе, saving уоu thе hеаdасhеѕ оf fіndіng gооd contractors, furniture and trаdеѕ реорlе.
  • Thеу tаkе уоur рrоjесt tо thе next lеvеl. Dеѕіgnеrѕ are visual people. Thаt аbіlіtу tо picture a finished rооm bеfоrе thе рrоjесt’ѕ even bеgun іѕ a huge аѕѕеt tо уоu. While a dо-іt-уоurѕеlfеr might dесоrаtе a rооm tо lооk “Tuѕсаn іnѕріrеd” – a gооd dеѕіgnеr wіll сrеаtе аn еxреrіеnсе, making уоu fееl lіkе уоu’rе in Tuѕсаnу іtѕеlf.
  • Thеу’rе сuttіng-еdgе. Dеѕіgnеrѕ stay current оn all the latest styles and trends, and can аdvіѕе you оn a whole аrrау оf new рrоduсtѕ and ѕеrvісеѕ уоu nеvеr knew еxіѕtеd.
  • Thеу саn hеlр stretch уоur budgеt. Dеѕіgnеrѕ know whаt thіngѕ соѕt, аnd hоw to gеt them for a fаіr рrісе. Pluѕ, thеу саn rеvіеw your budgеt uр frоnt, аdvіѕе уоu оn аrеаѕ оf thе rооm whеrе іt’ѕ іmроrtаnt tо mаkе a lаrgе investment, аnd іdеntіfу wауѕ уоu саn gеt аwау wіth ѕоmеthіng lеѕѕ expensive.


So find уоur іntеrіоr dеѕіgnеr- one with еxреrіеnсе, whо іѕ wіllіng tо work аt your оwn расе, whо has the abilities and аnd professional соnnесtіоnѕ to make dеѕіgnіng уоur ѕрасе the fun rеwаrdіng project іt’ѕ meant to bе -and lеаvе the dо-іt-уоurѕеlfing to thе guys on TV!

Yоu’ll be ѕо glаd уоu did!

Dean Malambri & Alan Sills

Dean Malambri & Alan Sills

Principal Designers, Dean Alan Design Inc.

Dean Malambri & Alan Sills are co-founders of Dean Alan Design Inc., a Chicago-based interior design and decorating firm.

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Why Do (you think) Interior Designers Seem Expensive?

Why Do (you think) Interior Designers Seem Expensive?

On some days, I seriously wish I could change my job title from “interior designer” to something less menacing, but everything else sounds awkward. Color, saturation and hue selector? Material specifier? Coordinator of tradespersons? I’d like to switch because as soon as I tell people what I do, one resounding association surfaces: EXPENSIVE. Interior Designers seem expensive, right? Suddenly I’ve become a pretentious, impractical aesthete who rolls his eyes at polyester, sighs a lot, and charges exorbitant prices. It’s an amazing set of assumptions derived from just two words!

The Other Dreaded D Word

But worse yet, I could be called a “decorator.” That sounds like something from “Father Knows Best,” a trivial hobby for the women-folk to pass the time in between soap operas. But like so many other trades, the business of interior design has been disrupted by the Internet, the crash of 2008, and the surging popularity of DIY. Why on earth would you need a professional interior designer when you’ve got TV shows, magazines and catalogs to guide and inspire your decorating ideas, Internet sites virtually giving away cheap home décor, and earworm-like ads cheering you on with slogans like, “You can do it. We can help.”? So I put on my investigative journalist hat (a Glen-Plaid Trilby), and here’s what I came up with.

1. Interior Designers Spreads Featured In Mass Media Show Really Expensive Home Decor

Turn on “Million Dollar Decorators,” “MTV Cribs” or flip through some design magazines. The projects and spreads are featured for inspiration, shock value and awe, both good and bad (depending on the source).  They’re there to entertain you with the most lavish, expensive, and/or most spectacular home plans in the world. If you’re old enough, you may remember “Lifestyle of the Rich & Famous.” Pretty much the same thing. While I would love to design a 15th century castle in the Rhone, or a 50-million-dollar penthouse in New York, these are the attention-getting projects, most budgets are a tad smaller.

David Easton's Abermale Salon is completely spectacular in every way.

Need decorating ideas? David Easton’s Abermale Salon is completely spectacular in every way.

Our clients don’t live in a Kardashian world (phew) and usually have financial obligations in the form of offspring, other expenses that are equally if not more important to design (like travelling), and not a lot of time. It doesn’t make for great TV to watch interior designers crunch home decor numbers on a spreadsheet and prioritize where to spend and where to save. Better to watch people fall to their knees and shriek “OH MY GOD!”

2. Not Many Other Than the Rich Used to Feel the Need for Interior Designers

Historically, if you needed furniture or home decor, most Americans bought some sort of “matching set” in Early American, Modern, Mediterranean, or Traditional.  That was it. Need some appliances? Harvest Gold or Avocado Green. Wallpaper and paint? Here’s the coordinating colors and patterns that exactly match. Ah the romanticized vision of a simple past.

The choices were pretty simple way back in 1957

The home decor choices were pretty stark way back in 1957

Wealthier Americans were the ones employing professional interior designers and they went to totally different showrooms, more expensive places like the Merchandise Mart,, in order their homes to stand out from the pack. Everything could be customized, tweaked, bedazzled, whatever you wanted and it was expensive because it wasn’t mass produced. Hence the term “to the trade only.”

But today the lines are blurred. There’s an avalanche of home decor at both consumer and designer levels, and virtually every home plan we do is contains products from both worlds. Good interior designers are now not just style dictators, they sift through mountains of home decor and materials for you, and have a lot of experience where to get the most “bang for the buck.”

3. The “Do-It-Yourself” Home Decor Industry Hammers the Point Constantly

Look at what’s playing on the treadmill screens at your local gym. I like spying at them; it’s usually sports, reality shows but now also increasingly, home improvement channels (I always internally giggle at the macho guys tuned into HGTV). DIY and dispensing decorating ideas became big business after 2008 and continues to grow, and there’s both good and bad in this. Good because people see how much better their home plans can be with some improvements. Bad because DIY is now a huge industry which has attracted both Madison Avenue, Wall Street and Silicon Valley types. These aren’t people that know good design, but they know how to make a lot of money. And that hinges on one simple premise: persuading you that doing everything on your own is really quite easy. Then, for balance, ask someone with no experience how easy it is to install crown molding.

Not the easiest turn to make on your own. While I can specify it, I can't do it myself. I do know many contractors can, all in a day's work.

Not the easiest turn to make on your own. While I can specify it, I can’t do it myself. I do know many contractors that can, all in a day’s work.

How Much of Your Home Plan Should You Do On Your Own?

A few of our clients still say “do everything”, but less and less. Others would prefer to do the majority of the heavy lifting on their own- they just need some advice on best practices and some decorating ideas. But most fall somewhere in the middle: they want to get their feet wet but don’t want to train like Michael Phelps.

There’s also a whiff of rugged American individualism inherent in DIY. Reflexively, I don’t want to be told what to do or what to buy, but that’s the lingering stigma of the dogmatically-perceived interior designers: and true, they used to be rather inflexible and diva-like. But if my doctor says lay off the fried food, in all likelihood he’s not saying this because he enjoys bossing you around. He’s seen some clogged arteries!

So if you’re a renegade and a rebel against authority, cool. Me too. But I do know that an expert gets that title usually because they encounter a situation over and over and has learned how to solve the problem efficiently and effectively. Interior designers are experts in scale, proportion, repetition, balance, etc., what we know as design considerations. Business people have different skill sets, as do marketers and website developers. The world is a better place because we all have different skill sets.

4. Interior Designers seem expensive because you’re heard they charge that exorbitant “retail” price

Again, kind of a spillover from the past. The Google shopping tab is available and accessible to all, and therefore, and that’s there’s not much pricing variance anymore in consumer level home decor products like lamps, rugs, vases, ceiling fans.

With custom home decor products there’s lots of variables depending on what you pick, so it’s not as easy to compare apples to apples on Google. Rest assured, interior designers discount off retail just like you see on price tags at stores and online. So that retail price you see everywhere, often with a slash through it is kind of a joke now.

5. It Still Feels Weird to Pay for Decorating Ideas

I remember one hilarious episode of Will and Grace when Grace figures out a way to workout always within earshot of a personal trainer to get his advice without having to pay for it (It’s ironic too because she herself is an interior designer in the show).

Sifting through thousands of home decor products like wall coverings, fabrics, floor coverings, paint, etc. takes time. More time to figure out how they balance and relate to each other. Even more to calculate quantities of each for each application, to figure out who can install, and to assess if this whole scheme is worth it relative to the whole home plan budget. I can almost guarantee that you won’t want to sit in on this part of the job, but that’s the bulk of what interior designers bill for- you are paying to save you time, get expert advice, personal and practical decorating ideas, and avoid complications. It’s pretty much outsourcing.Remember though, you’re not outsourcing your personal taste. In other words, when you eat out at a restaurant, you still get to choose what you eat. But you pay a bit more for the privilege of not having to cook.


It’s ultimately up to you what percentage of your home improvement plan you’d like to tackle. Most professional  interior designers are equipped to handle every part of the process, that’s what is meant by “full service interior design.” But if there’s parts you’d rather do on your own, great. Just think through it through and be aware what you’re in for. Some parts can be very fun and rewarding, and putting more of your personality into a project is a win-win for everyone.

There’s some happy medium that we’re getting to between “full-service” and DIY design. And I’m excited about the future because collaboration is more meaningful and rewarding all around.  I’ll leave you with a quote from fellow interior designer and all-around great guy, Patrick Landrum:

“Real interior design is all about the experience– the interaction. The surprises and laughter, the push & pull of personal choice, the butting of heads. The merging of taste and technique, and most of all the camaraderie of designer and client that results in a beautiful lifestyle that internet shopping cannot touch. It’s living the design, not just doing it.” – Patrick Landrum

Interior Designer

Hand rendering by Patrick Landrum

Hand rendering by Patrick Landrum

Happy decorating!

Dean Malambri Signature
Dean Malambri

Dean Malambri

President & Principal Designer, Dean Alan Design Inc.

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How DIY Are You, Really? Reality Check?

How DIY Are You, Really? Reality Check?

In my perfect DIY fantasy world, I would grow all my own food. I love the idea of starting a compost pile, starting plants from seed and enjoying the fruits of my own labor. Someday in retirement, I may get to that goal.

In the meantime, as a small business owner and designer, my day is filled meeting deadlines, marketing, approving paint samples, selecting fabrics, etc. You know the drill! Oh and I love playing the piano too and give some concerts here and there. And did I mention I love cooking meals from scratch?

pallet-coffee-table-with-drawersIn a perfect world, there would be time to do everything I love but in reality. some hard choices need to be made.

The DIY industry knows I would love to make everything in my home: “Create Your Own Coffee Table From Recycled Pallets”

Or, “Reupholster Your Sofa,” the headlines shout. I really want to do everything they say I can do.

This exact issue came up at a design meeting last week. The husband is an excellent contractor who works on some of the most luxurious residences in the Midwest. But here’s the rub: they’ve been living 17 years wanting to change things, but never seem to get beyond the “wish” phase. 17 years! They were paralyzed with too many ideas, what they needed was a clear vision, a timetable, and a priority list.

We presented them with some design boards, came up with a paint palette, and most importantly, we gave them a clear, step-by-step solution: 1. Select and order a few new pieces of furniture (he could have made them, but come on, 17 years!). 2. Paint the room with our agreed upon chosen colors (he still can paint himself). 3. Install the new lighting fixtures. and 4. and hang the window treatments. Done! It really was that simple. Once that’s done, we’ll be off to the next room, but only when the prior project is completed.

So this is why you hire a designer, even if you fancy yourself a DIY aficionado. How much time do you really have?

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