How can you tell the difference between a decorator and a sales clerk? Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? But it's actually a real dilemma people face these days and as people gear up for their Spring and Summer re-decorating projects I feel the need to share some sound advice.
Often times when you go into a store you are approached by a sales clerk who is there to help you locate items within the store, etc. The clerk's goal is to help guide you to purchase as many items from their store as possible. So while they may seem helpful at the time, chances are you will return home to find that everything you bought does look great- just not in your space. It's the classic case of floor model-itis (I totally made that one up). But my point is this: you walk into a showroom and see a group of furniture that is just stunning, it looks fabulous and you decide to buy them all. Brace yourself.... Once the pieces arrive to your home (or office or wherever) you realize there are a few problems. The room where you intended to put the pieces is a little too small for such large items and the fabric color makes your walls look drab so now you have to add finding a new color and painting the walls to your list of chores. What seemed so perfect at the time of purchase is now an all-out disaster which is completely non-returnable. The problem stems from the fact that something may look great in its current space, but when you try to cut and paste that look into your personal space all factors are not equal.
Sadly, many consumers come down with floor model-itis everyday. People get overwhelmed with the re-decorating process and want it to be over as quickly as possible causing a few missteps that in the end are very costly mistakes. Even when you receive assistance from the sales clerk, it's not always the most sound advice because they have no idea what the space looks like, what your lifestyle is or what your deeper needs are. Some sales clerks are interior designers and will make appointments to come to your home to assess your needs, but the downfall with that route is that they represent a specific store or a certain group of manufacturers. Thus, your best interest in still not at the center of the project.
Having been on all sides of this discussion, I am a firm believer that independent decorators are the way to go. I can't tell you how many times I begin a project and think "this vendor has a sofa that would be perfect for this client" and "that vendor has the exact table we need" and "still another vendor has some great art we can use", etc. When the need arises, find a decorator that you feel is professional, qualified and will LISTEN to you. If I said it once, I've said it a thousand times- the decorating process is ALL ABOUT YOU!!!