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Posh Interior Design | Kerry Ann Dame

Kerry Ann Dame has over 20 years experience in design and retail, beginning with Los Angeles cult design shop, Indigo Seas. A lifetime of travel and education have given Kerry Ann a unique appreciation for sustaining the old-fashioned art of living well. She believes the substance and character of a home matters almost more than its appearance. Her strength lies in creating spaces that reflect the uniqueness of the homeowner. Believing rooms should stand the test of time in style and also wear well, she always pays attention to quality. Kerry Ann’s work has appeared in Coastal Living and numerous other print and online publications. She has also appeared as an expert on HomeAway.com and as a lead fabricator on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. You can also find her at PillowFolly.com and SlipcoverFabrics.com.


house from scratch1

Designing a Home from Scratch

I think it's critical to have your furniture needs worked out, and discuss them with your architect or interior designer. Even if you don't need an interior designer to help you with colors, it's very beneficial to have someone review your plans to make sure the room spaces fit your family's needs. It is common to sacrifice square footage in some ares to enhance others, and I have seen so many homes with huge master suites and children's bedrooms that are half the size they should be! Guest rooms don't need to be large, unless you have a long-term guest who needs more furniture. Also, a combined kitchen/family room can seem quite big, but once you mark in traffic paths, bar seating, media center, etc. it limits the placement of furniture. Make sure you can fit a full-length sofa, end tables and lamps where you need them - and if you have small kids, you'll need floor space beyond the coffee table. With this in mind, a family room seating area should be at least 12 x 16. Think about whether you'll actually use bar seating; if you have an open floor plan, dining and kitchen nook are probably plenty. Or, if you like the bar, maybe you don't need a kitchen dining area a few feet away - a small loveseat and desk can be handy instead, or a pair of club chairs and small table for snacks and coffee. Remember, the larger the room, the more it takes to fill it - be careful not to overbuild and end up with a home it takes years to furnish. Production builders will usually spray on interior paint, and it can be very thin and watered down. They may charge more to roll on your final coat, but that's the only way to get a quality finish that will stand up to scrubbing, so we usually advise our clients to have this done. Spend a lot of time on your decisions for kitchen and bath, and start way ahead collecting photos of features you like. It is smart to buy the best quality faucets and fixtures you can, because they'll last so much longer. There is also a big difference in quality of tile and carpet, and it can't be seen on the surface, so visit a flooring store and find out exactly what you're getting. Every cent spent on quality at the beginning translates into years more wear. Green design is a growing trend nationally, and it is well worth it to make a home as green as possible - there are excellent energy cost savings, and you'll create a healthier living environment. Ask your builder or design center expert to direct you to the certified Green choices when you make your selections - they are available in most showrooms. Above all, listen to your builder - if they need you to select appliances or lighting by a certain date, focus on getting those things done so the project isn't delayed. If your designer, architect or builder has an idea, be sure to listen - they usually know what they're talking about!
project pride

Getting Started in Home Improvement

I started over 20 years ago working for designer Lynn von Kersting at Indigo Seas in Los Angeles. I wanted to build my life around travel, art, antiques and culture, and it seemed that Interior Design would give me the opportunity to weave them all together. Breaking into the the industry can be very, very difficult - people would walk in and offer to work for free just to learn and make connections. Having a paying job was a dream, and working for a world-class designer was a tremendous learning experience. While I was recommended for the job through a personal referral, what got me the job were my traveled background, work experience, computer skills and people skills. I can't stress enough how important it is to work at a job that has a related skill-set, starting as early as possible. If you want to work in interior design, then a great college job would be at a furniture store that does design, antiques shop, or decorative fabric store. The right experience will let an employer know you understand the materials and processes of the industry and can hit the ground running with good customer service skills and poise. Graduates with no real-world experience are quite useless to a busy designer. Your design degree will make it clear that you have the technical skills. An employer wants to know what you can do. The next most important thing to do is to develop your eye for design. I was fortunate to travel extensively growing up, and to live in a major city with all it had to offer. After college I took all my savings and spent 3 months traveling Europe on a shoestring, focusing on all the places I had studied in Art History. Later, this experience and my fluent French convinced Indigo Seas to send me to Paris and London to buy antiques. When I married and moved to the southeast, I was on my own, and called on my skills as a seamstress to start a workroom business that brought me my first design clients. My advice to aspiring residential designers: Take courses in Art History, History, Photography, Art or Architecture even if they are not all required for your degree. Cultural sophistication is a prerequisite to becoming a good designer - even if your taste tends towards the modern, you need to be familiar with the history of design and world cultures to put things in context. This is how you'll be able to understand a client's taste and needs, and use the inspiration you've gained to give them the creativity they deserve. Travel if you can to a major city - New York, London, or Paris, at least once and take in all of the museums and visit their design showrooms. Tour a museum or historic home, or design center, in every town you visit - you'll be filling your mental files (and Pinterest boards!) with a design library that will become your lifetime resource. If you can't offer your client original ideas based on your wider experiences, you're not doing your job. Remember, Interior Design without context and substance is just shopping! Internships can be great experience, but be careful not to work as a contributing unpaid staff member. You should be exposed to the entire workings of a design firm at an internship - get out of the sample room! Offer to be the note-taker and measurer, swatch carrier, photographer, etc. for the designers and ask questions to make sure you get it right. Keep close track of the skills and responsibilities of the internship so you can put the details on your resume. When you finally go after that Interior Design job, try to have some work in your portfolio besides computer renderings and sketches. Volunteer to help design a project for free - choose something that will be personally satisfying and provide good photography. For example: Layout and colors for a friend's kitchen remodel, a new paint scheme for a daycare, or design selections for a community center that is getting new carpet and furniture. Take photos along the way. If you put the word out, you'll have a lot of requests - choose carefully, be sure to only give your time away and not products, and take really good photos to add to your portfolio. If you are a blogger, write a story about it and post your photos. While your portfolio and design style may pique a client's interest, it is your willingness to work hard and give fair value for what you charge that will make you a success in the field. Never stop learning.

Learning from Mistakes

Working in an industry that relies on skilled tradespeople, vendors, importers, and also ourselves as designers, there are many opportunities for something to go wrong along the way. We are human, after all, and part of our job is to take the stress out of remodeling and decorating projects for our clients. We take on the responsibility of making sure things go right, and if for some reason there is a problem, we take care of it. Even if the issue is a delay that wasn't our fault, our relationship with the client is important to us, so we often thank them for their patience with a gift or discount. If one of our tradespeople makes an error that requires more material, we handle it internally so the client never has to deal with the problem. We always keep in mind one of our interior design caveats: "Things do go wrong, it's what you do about it that counts." We try to leave our clients happy, even if we do hit the occasional bump in the road. I would say the one mistake we sometimes make is giving a client too much of our time without billing them for it, because we care about getting the job done right. This can result in our feeling frustrated with the job and client, so we have to be aware of our time and make sure the client never feels as if we don't want to be there - we do! We love what we do.
2013 trends

Top Home Trends Predicted for 2013

In our interior design shop, clients are purchasing our Made in USA furnishings more than ever before. There is a genuine desire to support American business, and our customers seek out small shops like ours for that reason. Reclaimed woods used in furniture are gaining broad appeal as clients desire pieces with character and enduring style. Neutral tones with an oatmeal or gray tint are sought after for paint colors and large upholstered pieces, acting as the perfect foil for each individual's design style, expressied via art, accessories, textiles and rugs. Emerald green has been very well received, but in our coastal region the lighter willow greens and citrons remain strong. Blues are getting deeper, with the dusty blues giving way to navy and even royal blue tones. Quality has become the story as the backlash against disposable living continues - consumers want the advice that will help them make smart long term choices based on the quality and longevity of furniture pieces. Cleanability and durability of fabrics are important. Because of the buying opportunities in the real estate market, we are seeing a lot of projects that involve remodeling and updating interior finishes in bathrooms and kitchens, usually in distressed properties bought at a bargain price that the new owners wish to customize. With home prices staying low, more budget can be allocated towards remodeling and updating interiors; we expect this trend to continue for years here at the beach where people like to invest in property. Grays, mushroom, citron, indigo, plum and mauve- red are strong colors that are gaining momentum, while orange, rust, olive and chocolate are waning. Coral continues to be popular with Prussian blue and gold for traditional homes.
home improvement

Choosing Home Improvement Products

Two of the products I don't like to see my clients buy from home improvement stores are drapery rods and laminate flooring. The flimsy drapery rods they carry are just not adequate. Often people wil buy two sets of rods and double them one inside the other for strength, when for less expense they could order good quality rods from a designer or drapery shop. There is also a very big difference in performance between discount laminate flooring and the name brands, such as Quickstep and Pergo. The best brands are manufactured in a way that makes them much more resistant to moisture. I have seen so many cheap flooring products delaminate, peel and fade after just a few years. It is definitely worthwhile to buy the best flooring your budget can afford, and unfortunately the details of what makes for quality flooring products are not available from the staff at a big box store. Also, their installation prices tend to be higher than necessary, offsetting any savings gained from using the cheap materials. See a flooring industry specialist retailer to be able to compare products and get the most for your budget.
home improvement technology

What emerging technologies are making your jobs easier?

For all of the reasons above, the internet has been a great time-saver for designers, allowing us to handle more clients, more quickly. We don't have as many hours of time invested in sourcing product, and it is easy to share with clients. We no longer have to meet in person for every little detail, as long as we have a strong relationship with the client. With a smartphone and ipad, I can work from almost anywhere, and with clients far away, so our clientele includes pretty much anyone. Working with an interior designer is no longer just the realm of the wealthy; good design can be had by all!
home estimates

How should homeowners interpret estimates?

Since the results of an interior design project vary greatly between one designer and another, it is important for the client to make sure they are doing an "apples to apples" comparison when they get a quote, especially for furniture and windows. Quality varies so much from one manufacturer to another, it is critical to check the specs on the order. One sofa may be a bit more expensive than another, but the designer should be able to spell out the type of construction and durability of the frame and fabric, so the client has a realistic expectation of how well each sofa will perform over time, and can then decide according to their budget. With window treatments, again one must examine the specifics - is the main fabric more expensive? Are they lined? Will they close for privacy or are they just decorative side panels? There is also a big difference in the smooth performance of drapery rods - heavy drapes require better rods to avoid jamming. A professional will have all of the details for each product they show you, and offer a couple of different choices for your budget. It is unrealistic to expect a designer to "quote" a complete job and itemize every item in the room in order to "bid" on a job. The work involved in just producing the quote is actually half of the design process - it takes hours and hours to calculate all of the measurements and price all of the individual bits and pieces for a job such as a furniture plan or large drapery. Once a client has been given a quote, it is easy for them to ask another professional to "beat it", which they often will because the first designer already did most of the legwork, measuring and calculating and producing the written budget. That is why most designers charge a fee for large window treatment and furniture designs, especially if the client wants the quote in writing. If you have an ongoing relationship with a designer, you can avoid fees by agreeing to purchase most everything from the designer's shop. This is cost effective on projects that involve large purchases, as fees are included. However, any experienced designer should be able to tell you what amount to budget based on what you are trying to accomplish. There are so many factors to consider when hiring your designer - mutual comfort with the budget, comfort with each other, and good communication are as important as the client's liking the designer's work. Once we give a quote at Posh Living, it does not change unless an element of the job changes, i.e. something is unavailable and the client has to choose a substitute, or the scope of work is increased once the project begins. On some projects, we work purely on an hourly basis because the scope of the work is uncertain, especially in construction and renovation. Billing hourly on these projects can actually save the client money, since the ones that go smoothly take less of the designer's time. As long as there is understanding at the beginning about the estimating and billing process, designers can make sure they are being paid fairly for their input.
historic home

What should homebuyers know about older homes?

Keep in mind the cost of updating, as some rooms cost much more than others. Some buyers look at an older home as just having "cosmetic" repairs to do, but if the kitchen and bathrooms are out of date, there will be major expenses involved to modernize them. It may be worthwhile to have a kitchen and bath designer or contractor evaluate the project before buying the home. An older home that needs renovating can be a great bargain if the price is right, and the remodel can be done in the new buyer's taste. Having newly renovated spaces means it will be years before the new owner has to do anything else, and it is likely they will never have to spend money on the kitchen and baths again. Buying a bargain, fixing it up, and living in it is the best deal for someone who plans to live in the home for several years, since the days of house-flipping for profit are behind us. This is a great way to get an entry point into a neighborhood that may be out of your price range - just buy the worst home on the nicest street!
2012 trends

What are the home improvement trends for 2012?

Anything eco-friendly and sustainable is becoming mainstream in the design world. Manufacturers are responding to demand by educated consumers with more eco-friendly decorating products. As these products become mainstream, shoppers in secondary markets are beginning to catch on to the trend. Hopefully 2012 will be the tipping point, where there are enough sustainable and eco=friendly products on the shelves that consumers will be faced with making sustainable choices on a daily basis, and will be able to choose organic cotton sheets or Bio foam products for their furniture without having to go far out of their way. The trend towards eclectic interiors is definitely hot right now and will continue to be for a long time. When we are freed from the tight constraints of decorating "themes", it is easier to recycle existing furnishings, buy new items that have personality, and to allow a space to grow over time and become a home of substance instead of a trendy showplace.
save money

What are the best ways to save on bills?

Here are a few ways we save on bills at our house: Avoid the clothes dryer! We fluff our clothes for 5-10 minutes, then hang them on hangers to finish drying. Clothes last longer and are easier to put in the closet, and the dryer isn't being used. Draperies! Shades and draperies do an amazing job of insulating windows to keep heat and cold out. If you want a sunny room, use sheers to cut direct sun and keep the room from heating up. In the winter, keep drapes open in a sun-facing window to help heat the house, then close them at sunset to keep that heat gain indoors. Baths - take a bath instead of a shower, it uses less water and is relaxing too! Cleaning supplies - one bottle of Lysol can last for months, and be mixed a few ounces at a time into a spray bottle of water to clean most house surfaces. We use peroxide to clean grout, and a reusable microfiber cloth for tubs and sinks. A steam mop does the floors, with a spritz of Lysol added for germ-prone areas. We rarely buy cleaning supplies, especially all those expensive specialty ones. Research old household cleaning tips for more ideas - those old fashioned remedies really work. Slipcover your furniture - pieces will last for years longer, and you can wash them yourself instead of paying to have your sofa and chairs steam cleaned.
make space

What can you do to make the most out of your living space?

Make sure you have a clear, defined purpose for each room - not just, "Living Room", but determine what activities will actually happen in the space. Then, devote your furniture arrangement to providing what is needed for those activities - for example, a small writing desk can be a great sofa table, to be used as a desk when you want to surf the web on your laptop. Store items near the space you use them, such as DVD's in drawers under the TV, or extra linens for a sofabed inside a storage ottoman. If you never go into a room, ask yourself why and give that room a reason to be. Then you'll start using it and getting the value out of it. Add bookshelves to make a dining room into a library if you only dine a few times a year; put a wing chair at the head so you can read and do projects in there comfortably. Be honest with yourself - if you have a big furry dog and 3 kids under 5, don't even attempt to have a formal living space. A casual room that is appropriate for family living can still look great for guests. Having a play room and keeping the family room off limits for toys means constant nagging to pick things up. Put easy storage, such as baskets under a coffee table or lower cabinet doors on bookshelves, for toys and games right where the kids want to use them, and if your playroom is underutilized, make it into a cozy parlor for adults - if it is out of the fray, it will stay clean and you can hole up in there when adult friends come over. The same applies to retirement homes - why so much square footage? Many people dream of the huge family home where all the extended family comes for the holidays, everyone has their own bed and bath, and no one bunks on the floor. Unless these gatherings are guaranteed to happen every year, having a 5 bedroom home is a huge waste of resources, both personal and ecological. Why not downsize and treat guests to a B&B when they come? They'll be pampered, have privacy, and in the long run, it's probably cheaper than maintaining a large home.
confessions of professional

What do homeowners not know about your industry?

Very well put - so often, clients give up after getting one price, instead of taking the time and spending a little money on expert help to tweak the project to meet their needs and budget. An expert contractor or designer will know plenty of things the homeowner doesn't - that's why they are called experts!
confessions of professional

What do homeowners not know about your industry?

The preponderance of "design" TV shows has really confused consumers about what designers really do. Here's what we wish they knew: When we work with clients on furniture plans, they will often say "just give me pricing on this room two or three different ways", something easier said than done. Since people are accustomed to shopping at large stores where things are barcoded, they assume that prices exist in a magical computer program that includes all of the furniture in the world, and that designing and pricing out a house is quick and easy. Since residential interior designers do so much custom fabrication, and purchase from many different vendors, nearly every project we do starts from square one. This means that when we make room selections, we have to look up the price for each piece in a price list, then enter the item in the computer. For custom work such as draperies, there may be several items such as fabric, lining, trim and labor that all have to be calculated. We also have to call the vendor to check stock, and find out if there is a minimum purchase and what the freight will be. Once the client has made their selections and left our showroom, we may spend hours on the phone and computer. Once the order is placed, we have to follow up frequently, writing out instructions for craftspeople and sometimes chasing down damaged or missing goods. Two to three times a year, we attend trade shows to find out what is new and see the furniture in person, so if we order from a catalog for a client later, we know they are getting good quality. There is a large unseen investment of time and energy for us, just to be in business. Our efforts save the homeowner countless hours of running around and aggravation, yet still there are those who don't value the effort. They are the clients who will take our estimate to a competitor and ask them to beat it. Usually, the answer is yes, because the competitor can "cheat" off our work (just like in school) and not have to take the hours of time we took to meet at the home, measure, calculate and enter the order. Sometimes, the client just wants to check prices to make sure they are not being overcharged in the expensive world of decorating. Sometimes they will see an item on the internet for less - from a vendor who has no staff to pay, no showroom, and no overhead. Of course, online may cost less - but the designer who pays for travel to find the pieces at market, pays for the showroom for the client to see the furniture, spends the meeting time to discuss all of their needs and concerns, and has the expertise to know what to recommend for the best quality, is the person doing the work and the person who should profit. Usually, the designer's advice is the only reason the client would even be looking for a certain item. Therefore, the advice itself has value. Because so much design work occurs out of the clients' view, it is easy for them to think that it's all right to take the plan we create and shop it around. What we'd like them to understand is that we are selling a service, not a bunch of products. We can never be as cheap as mass market imports, but we are selling quality and longevity, not a throw-away look. We've even had customers comment that there are so few furniture stores nowadays - are they the very same customers who walk through a store, write down style numbers, and go home to order over the internet? Looking at furniture and fabrics in person is difficult to do as more and more showrooms close. Sometimes our clients are surprised that we charge by the hour for furniture plans and drapery prices, since they don't want "interior design". However, good clients do understand - the time we spend working on their home has tremendous value for them in the end. If we produced a design plan and the client purchased elsewhere, they'd be using our services without paying for them. An interior designer provides quality furniture and tries to get the most for the client's budget, then follows up with personal delivery and installation services. If more shoppers understood what an interior design shop can provide in terms of quality and follow up, they would think twice about spending hours shopping around just to save a few hundred dollars. There is a reason many clients are so loyal to their decorators, often working on homes with the same designer over a lifetime. Not only is the client's time worth money, removing stress and aggravation from the furnishing process frees them to take real pleasure in creating their home, and that's really what Interior Design is all about!
kid construction

How can you keep a remodel safe and kid-friendly?

If you will have toddlers in the house and expect to be using gates, it is a great idea to install permanent gates in the home. Wooden slatted gates, painted to match the white trim, can be permanently mounted on doorways between rooms, or at the head and foot of stairs. They are so much more sturdy and attractive than the plastic, store-bought ones. If you have a casual, cottage style home, try picket fence sections for a touch of cottage charm. In a formal home, wrought iron gates are beautiful for a stairwell with iron railings. Just be sure to measure and situate the gate so there are no gaps large enough for a baby to be trapped - less than 3" on the sides, and no more than 1" off the floor is ideal. If you have a pattern like pickets on top, make sure they are high enough to be away from clothing being caught. A smooth, straight top is the safest if your child is a climber.. This is a great idea for pets as well, to keep them away from formal areas or in the laundry room when the weather is wet outside. For family kitchens, it's nice to have a built-in banquette so you can squeeze in more kids if needed, and to use for lounging and relaxing in the kitchen - just pile with pillows. I also like to use a fully upholstered wing chair at the kitchen table, so parents can sit and work comfortably while supervising homework and cooking. Making the kitchen extra-comfortable with the right furnishings is like adding another living room to the home; and making things safe for babies means less running around for mom and dad.
home improvement career

What career advice do you wish you had been given?

In the interior design industry, education is very important - expose yourself to as much history and architecture in person as you can. It is impossible to refine your eye for design in school, you have to get out and see fine things in person. Visit historic homes and museums, travel to foreign cities, and go to fine auction houses. Going to the Markets in High Point and New York is also a great education.

How can you creatively reuse or recycle in the home?

Reducing your use is one of the greenest things you can do; extend the idea of re-using what you have to home furnishings. Recover your furniture. It keeps it out of the landfill, and saves money versus buying new. Even if it needs a little repair or new cushions, it's usually worth doing because you can choose any fabric and end up with something nicer than anything in a store. When you have a renovation project, purchase the longest lasting material you can - instead of carpet, choose tile or wood, since it won't need replacing. Many types of old carpet can be recycled, so be sure to check before sending old carpet to the landfill. Building materials such as cabinets can be found at thrift and resale shops, so next time you need to renovate the garage, buy used cabinets. For every category of home product, there is at least one product that is more green than the others, so have ask the sustainability question every time you shop. Seek out American made furniture, carpet made from recycled content, and sustainably harvested wood. If the sales person where you are shopping has no idea, then move on. There are plenty of choices in the marketplace now, it is up to consumers to make the right selections.
buy home

What do home buyers need to know before buying?

From a decorating and interior design standpoint, my advice would be: Don't overbuy. It is so common to see clients who have purchased their dream mansion only to realize they can't furnish it. Even if they don't have expensive taste, a large house means a large furniture purchase; those big, sunny custom windows must have custom draperies or motorized blinds; stone or wood floors need to have area rugs to protect them and muffle sound, and large rugs are very expensive. One of the biggest furniture investments in a home is the dining room, and it is such a shame to see cheap imported fake-carved dining room furniture in a grand home because the real thing is far out of reach. All of this effort is often for a retirement home, where the dining room is used twice a year. It is best to be realistic about a furniture budget; hire a designer for a few hours to discuss the home's needs and potential budget before buying, and factor those numbers into the equation. Consider keeping some of your existing furniture and having it recovered. Make sure large pieces such as cupboards will fit in the new home - many open plan homes have very little wall space for furnishings and art. Long term, be sure to get information about potential upkeep - stone surfaces must be periodically sealed, carpets and tile floors professionally cleaned. These expenses can really add up. It is less wasteful to have a smaller home and be able to furnish it with quality pieces and maintain it beautifully.

Where do you find inspiration for remodeling projects?

As a designer, I really like large-format coffee table books. It may sound old-fashioned, but the large format of photos on paper are easier to see detail in than a computer, and easy to flip back to. Choose books according to locales or designers that inspire you - a book about Italy is great inspiration for a Mediterranean home, even if it isn't a design book. Interior Designers' books usually are fantastic for information about the process and rules of design. Good interior design is really about how we live, so be inspired by the lifestyle you have (or want) and create your home to achieve it. That being said, a clippings file, either online or from magazines, is the best resource because it is a collection of things that speak to you viscerally; no one can make a clippings file for you. Sometimes the clippings may seem unrelated, but if you look closely, you'll see that they have a common thread. Perhaps you are attracted to uncluttered rooms, humble rooms, or rooms with collections; they may look completely different from each other, but there is a way in which they relate that will reveal your taste to you.
Home Design

What elements are overused in home improvement?

Brown, Brown, Brown! I think our culture has been suffering from brownout in building materials for a long time. Clients tell me when they visit a tile shop or builder showroom, the "designer" only shows them the "Old World" boards. Brown tile, brown grout, brown granite, and beige paint. While white and light is the order of the day in design magazines and online, it takes far too long for the rest of the world to catch up. Using a neutral for resale or longevity is a nice idea, but when the "neutral" is dark beige it looks dated just as fast as a color - brown IS a color. Wood cabinets, brown tile splash and stone counters make a dark kitchen; since a light, bright kitchen is number one on most homeowner's lists, it seems counter-intuitive to use brown for resale.
media home improvement

How does the media portray home improvement?

Our biggest complaint is the makeover shows, where the "designers" make things out of popsicle sticks and glue (and lots of MDF) that will immediately begin to disintegrate under daily use. Curtains are unlined and unfinished, materials are inappropriate; bargain fabrics that look "meh" are foisted on the unsuspecting homeowner under the guise of "design". When they add up the final cost, no mention is ever made of the army of carpenters in the background - their cost is often three or four times what is quoted on the show. The sad thing is that consumers are led to believe these projects are well executed; standards have become so low that shoppers seek bargain prices above quality, looks or function. People are willing to settle for much less just to save money, even though they will have to redo the project in short order when it falls apart. Construction of furnishings is never mentioned - often they'll "obtain" a house full of furniture from a sponsor for some nonexistent price like $1200, which would never be available. It is sad to see family heirlooms replaced with junk that will fall apart, but it happens all the time for the sake of the look and the sponsor exposure. It is so misleading to show expensive materials such as mosaic tile (that was luckily found for the show at a convenient bargain price); consumers come into our showroom thinking they can have the same for hundreds, not thousands of dollars. The end result is that shoppers think every material is way too expensive, they don't move forward with their project as a result, and they live on in disappointed squalor.


Home Expert Awards: Designing a Home

I think it's critical to have your furniture needs worked out, and discuss them with your architect or interior designer. Even if you don't need an interior designer to help you with colors, it's very beneficial to have someone review your plans to make sure the room spaces fit your family's needs. It is common to sacrifice square footage in some ares to enhance others, and I have seen so many homes with huge master suites and children's bedrooms that are half the size they should be! Guest rooms don't need to be large, unless you have a long-term guest who needs more furniture. Also, a combined kitchen/family room can seem quite big, but once you mark in traffic paths, bar seating, media center, etc. it limits the placement of furniture