Hire a Pro


It happens to all of us. We have a great design idea, but just don’t know how to implement it.  Or, we have an event coming up and want our home to sparkle.   Maybe we’d do the painting ourselves, but the architecture of the room is a challenge.  Or perhaps you have no idea where to start and need an overall design plan.  Whatever the roadblock, occasionally we all need a little help with completing our home design projects, so we decide to hire a professional.

We have some tips to help you create the room of your dreams.

Do Your Homework.

Have a detailed plan for what you are trying to accomplish.  Create a storyboard with your paint colors, fabric samples, and magazine pictures of a similar look.  Build a list of everything you can imagine might be needed for your project.  A sample list for a room redesign may look something like this:  wall paint, ceiling paint, trim paint, fabric for recovering sofa, fabric for new pillows, floor covering, new coffee table, etc.  Having a project list will also help you compare the final estimates you receive from different vendors (“apples to apples”).

Just Ask.

Before hiring a pro, ask for recommendations.  Start with your friends and family, but also be sure to seek out the advice of people who are “in the trades.”  Visit a store you love and ask the employees if they can recommend a painter or an upholstery shop to you.  Chances are they have found trustworthy, talented contractors with whom they prefer to work.  They often hear the “horror stories,” so they also can steer you away from shady contractors.


Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential professionals, visit their showroom or retail location.  You can gain insights into how they run their business by how their space looks.  Is the space clean and brightly lit?  Or is it dusty and dingy?  Does the business have an updated, contemporary look and feel, or do you feel like you’ve stepped into a relic from the past?  Your intuition will provide great feedback as to whether you should consider this business as a partner in completing your dreams.  You also will get a sense of whether their employees are well trained and knowledgeable – can they answer your questions? And are they willing to find out those answers they don’t know?

Request a Consultation.

If it is a company that does not have a retail location (such as a painting contractor), contact the company and ask for someone to visit your home.  A good contractor is more than willing to come by and meet with you to talk about your project.  Most businesses offer consultation services and/or free estimates. Take advantage of what the business can offer you in the project development phase.  Sometimes it is worth spending a little money up front for a consultant or designer to be sure your ideas are clarified and articulated in the overall plan.

Get Estimates.

Get at least three qualified estimates, from each type of contractor if it is a complex project (three paint companies, three upholstery quotes, etc.).  Be sure to request a line-item quote (instead of an overall lump-sum quote) so that you can compare specifics between the companies.  While we all want to get a good value, remember that the lowest cost bid may not include the attention to details or highly trained employees that a higher bid may include.  Take time in evaluating your bids and be sure to ask the contractor plenty of questions.  Things to consider include:  Are materials included on the bid, or do you need to buy them separately? Does the labor bid include set up/take down time (for example, will a painting contractor remove dropcloths and put furniture back in place at the end of each day)?  Will the job foreman be on site daily?  Is delivery included from the upholsterer?

Hiring a professional is a two-sided coin. On one side, you must be willing to do preparatory work to ensure your goals and needs are met.  On the other, you will be relieved to know the job is being handled by a qualified professional.  Reputable contractors want satisfied clients, and generally will work very hard to make sure they carry out your wishes.  To be satisfied with the contractor and the final result, you must be able to identify what you want and be able to convey your plan to your contractor.  In the end, it becomes a partnership to create the home or room of your dreams!

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