Decorator Nightmare

StyleNorth reader Jill wrote to me to see if I’d be interested in some items for my fledgling decorating business. She had just emerged from a bad — as in REALLY bad — experience with a TV decorator who shall remain nameless. Jill and her husband Jack hired the designer to help them sift through their inspiration binders and pull together a cohesive plan based on their tastes and wishes.

Now, I don’t want to disparage the interior design trade in any way; the profession is teeming with talented, enthusiastic individuals who do wonderful work for their clients. Here in Ontario the trade is overseen by ARIDO, the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario, which can help refer a designer and offers tips on how to pick the right one; you can also consult the Interior Designers of Canada website and use their DesignFind tool.

So what went wrong for Jill and Jack? And how did they end up with furniture, draperies and accessories they now want to dump?

“In my initial consultations with the designer I made it clear that I didn’t want beige,” says Jill. “I was looking for colour, I wanted some blue/turquoise, maybe a shot of hot pink. We already had a dining table and chairs and we had purchased some Berger-style chairs for the living room but hadn’t decided on a fabric for them. We knew we wanted a Fortuny pendant fixture for over the dining table.”

Jill and Jack are both professionals and while they’re not wealthy, they were prepared to throw up to $100,000 at the project in order to get the living/dining space of their dreams. Instead, they got a nightmare.

“And that’s one reason we’re sort of sheepish to discuss what happened,” says Jack. “We’re embarrassed, frankly, that we got ‘taken’ to the degree we did. We spent all that money and didn’t get what we wanted. And we’re still working on the space ourselves but now we have to do it slowly because we blew the budget on this designer who didn’t listen to a thing we said.” [NOTE: The photos in this post represent what the couple has done to their space since the decorating debacle.]

Jill recalls that she and Jack would have meetings with the designer and find themselves being “bulldozed” into agreeing to things that weren’t really what they wanted. “The meeting would end and we’d look at each and say, ‘What just happened?’ ”

Unfortunately, it just kept happening right up until reveal day when Jill came home (Jack was out of town on business) and stood in her neutral, rather beige living room, stunned into silence and on the verge of tears.

“The designer was looking for my reaction but I was in shock. I said it was a lot to take in and that I needed to process it.”

“I was told I had to decided on which accessories I wanted to keep because they were out on approval and had to be returned within 24 hours if I didn’t want them. I phoned my mother and sister to rush over and give me their opinions because at that point I didn’t know what to think, like maybe I was crazy and the room was actually great. But it wasn’t great, it was beige and bland, there was none of the colour I’d asked for. I wanted scalloped Roman blinds but they weren’t scalloped and the trim wasn’t where I was expecting it to be and even though I specifically asked for the blind to be lined in the same fabric — for which I was charged double – it wasn’t. I would have preferred them to be inset into the frames instead of covering the frames but that’s a discussion we never had. The designer said it could all be changed but at further cost to us.”

Jill and Jack might have been better off selling the stuff through a Classified ad, which is what happened to the beige, skirted sofa the designer sprang on them. Jill and Jack lost a whack of cash on that purchase because the furniture store/upholsterer refused to work with her, as did the Fortuny rep who declined to replace the fixture with something a bit more colourful even though Jill was perfectly willing to pay a re-stocking fee.

“I felt the designer was not pushing to help us,” recalls Jill, “like the designer didn’t want to wreck the relationship with the retailer; my sense was that the retailers would have listened to the designer if the designer had gone to bat for us, which didn’t happen.”

When it came time to settle the designer’s bill, Jill and Jack sat down with the designer in an effort to mitigate the damage but the clients got lots of push-back and not a lot of leeway. The design contract the couple had signed was open to interpretation and left very little room for recourse. The clients knew that if they sued – and one of them is a lawyer — the designer would be able to marshall greater legal resources and the couple would wind up throwing good money after bad. So they cut their losses and licked their wounds and tried to forget the whole sorry saga.

What would Jill do differently next time? “I’d hire a designer just to consult, to help me edit my ideas and point me in the direction of some good sources. Then, when I needed help with the window dressing, I’d do the same thing, just buy a consultation and then get the job done the way I wanted it. We learned a painful and expensive lesson.”

Sitting in Jill and Jack’s unfinished living room, my heart breaks over all the wasted money and the fact that the couple is still pecking away in an effort to realize their vision for the space.

Last week, I had lunch with a decorative art specialist who works with interior designers, many of whom, he observed, have a decorating template, a well they draw from again and again. And that made me think of some of the really famous designers whose rooms all have a similar look and feel: sure there are designers who adapt to meet the needs and tastes of each individual client but if you don’t want a Darryl Carter or a Vicente Wolf  space, don’t hire Darryl Carter or Vicente Wolf.

In the coming weeks I’ll be working with an outside contributor to profile some of the talented but lesser-known interior designers working in the Canadian market, specifically Toronto. I hope this post and the posts to come will help prevent optimistic and unsuspecting clients from making the same mistakes Jill and Jack did.

Please see below for a selection of furnishings the couple is anxious to sell – all great pieces in their own right, just not right for Jill and Jack.

Two down-filled, gold damask cushions $100 for the pair (paid $460 plus tax for both) and two down-filled, blue cushions with Greek key trim $150 for both (paid $1101 plus tax); Floor-to-ceiling, gilded, antiqued mirror from Commute Home $1,500 (paid $2,900 plus tax)

Two plush, trimmed, lined Roman blinds $1,700 for both (paid $5,560 plus tax for the pair)

Antiqued, painted desk $350 (paid $587 plus tax), upholstered French-style desk chair $400 (paid $647.50 plus tax)

If you’re interested in any of the above items, please send me an email, which I’ll forward to Jill.

Be Sociable, Share!

Monday, March 21, 2011 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 865 posts on styleNorth.

50 Comments For This Post

  1. Raina @ If the Lamp Shade Fits Says:

    That is a damn shame. Designers like this give our profession a bad name.

    The furnishings are beautiful (even if not what the client wanted), and I hope they fetch a good price.

  2. Sue Says:

    I really feel for this couple and I’m so glad they reached out to you for help. I hope they garner the courage to go public with their story and bring that designer the shame he/she deserves!

  3. Brandi Says:

    I’m glad they reached out with their story. It helps to let other people know what to look out for. These pieces are beautiful and I’m sure someone will love them. What a shame, such an expensive mistake. I always feel some people need to learn customer service and try to make sure the client is happy!

  4. Lindsay @ A Walk in the Closet Says:

    I cannot believe the price of the items!!! I understand that this couple had a fair bit of money to spend ($100K is nothing to scoff at), but I feel like they were being gouged.

    Maybe it’s just because I myself need to work on a much more limited budget but even for a “designer” pillow, I cannot think how a designer could think to spend $1K of the client’s money without them being 110% behind that purchase. That’s big money to me, ESPECIALLY for a pillow.

    This is sickening.

  5. Kathy@myinteriorlife Says:

    Such a cautionary tale. Thanks for sharing, and I truly feel for Jill and Jack. Hopefully, they can recoup some of their money with your help.

  6. David Says:

    Heartbreaking. If there’s any good to come of this story its the reminder that the minute you’re not comfortable with something you’ve got to call a time out.

    When finishing our condo I arrived at the lighting showroom with print outs of what I wanted for each room. I got home and realized that not one thing I had just ordered was what I intended to buy. I called the showroom back and cancelled the entire order.

    They sound like nice people, I hope they can find a way to make their space what they want.

  7. Ajax Says:

    I know exactly how they feel, I sadly made same mistakes.

  8. J. O'Hara Says:

    One of the worst things you can do with a designer is tell them your budget. They will spend it with less to show for it every time. I have had similar experiences and thus have a storage unit filled with many fine things, but not to my taste. Often decorators will try to make furnishings work for a client that have been returned by other clients. Clearly, this decorator is operating on a moral short leash. How unfortunate for this young couple.

  9. Nat Says:

    While my budget was not anywhere close to that, I was extremely controlling of my recent renovations (granted it was mostly construction, and not decoration). To the point that my husband and I would survey the space every evening after the contractors left, send them lengthly emails with updates on what we wanted done/fixed/changed the next day, and marked every spot with painter’s tape to make sure we were all talking about the same thing.

    In the end there were still some things that didn’t come out exactly like I wanted, but they were minor (ex. minor misplacement of a power outlet in the powder room) and I can (I hope) live with them.

  10. Shannon Says:

    Wow. Insane. Truly. I am a currently a decorator and also an interior design student. I cannot even fathom spending a clients money in such a way. I’m so sorry for Jill and Jack. I do hope they have some recourse.

  11. Lisa Hunter Says:

    If you paint the walls seashell pink and either lighten or darken the floor, it will all work. The beige walls are making the rooms blah, and the yellow-y floor doesn’t work with the cool colors.

  12. Sean Says:

    Was there no signing off process on all of these purchases and their costs, or a scheme discussed? I am an interior consultant/decorator and cannot imagine how awful this must be for Jill and Jack. Please know, there are a lot of us out there, who work not for ego, but rather a true passion to create an environment to please the client, period.

  13. john Says:

    Who gives anyone that kind of money , with a high expectation attached to it and turns their back and waits for a miracle. I think that is just stupid , sorry people but who does that? I think if your going to hire anyone to do anything your also responsible to make sure that the direction and decisions meet your approval first before you continue to move forward with anything. Jill and Jack need to own their behavior and bad judgement in this case as well , all are at fault.
    This is like giving money to a total stranger and asking them to go out and get you a car , and them driving back with something you don’t like.
    This city if filled with so many talented and amazing designers , the lesson here is be involved with someone who’s work you love and be involved start to finish , it’s your home , not the designers.

  14. Lots to say Says:

    I don’t want to sound as though I’m excusing a designer who failed to please her clients – that is inexcusable. Yet there are some strange discrepancies in this story – and also in the commentary.

    J. O’Hara says something puzzling. You don’t want to spend your budget??? As Bryan Baeumler aptly expresses in his inaugural Toronto Star column (Homes Sat. March 18, 2011), “That’s right folks. You will spend your entire budget — because that’s what your budget is for.”
    How is a designer supposed to shop on your behalf without a budget??? I have done design work. Nothing is worse than not knowing what your client wants to spend. WANTS to spend. If you don’t want to spend 100K, don’t say your budget is 100K. Simple.

    If at some point you’re feeling bullied by the person you hired, fire her. First, try to firmly state what is not working and I should hope the designer has enough tricks up his/her sleeve to go in another direction. Unless this is an episode of While You Were Out, there shouldn’t be a big shock on reveal day. Am I wrong? This was off-camera-real-life-decorating, right?

    If the scalloped roman blinds did not seem current or appropriate for some reason, the designer should have shared her thoughts. And you, as the Boss, could have insisted or conceded.

    Why did you want the Fortuny rep to exchange your light for something more colourful? That was one thing you “knew (you) wanted a Fortuny pendant over (your) dining table”. Did you get the name wrong? I don’t know of any colourful Fortuny lights.

    I think it is atrocious that this designer took all your money without giving you what you asked for. It’s often hard for clients to vocalize their vision, but that is what the process is about. If you wanted a dramatic reveal at the end, that may account for the miscommunication, but it sounds like you had meetings and opportunities to align your ideas.

    Wouldn’t it be great to give this designer the opportunity to explain her side here on this forum? Why should she take advantage of others who rely on the credentials of her TV appearances? Expose her! ;o)
    Lesson: TV personalities are sometimes more PERSONALITY than talent. They make for good TV.

    I can’t wait for StyleNorth’s feature of lesser-known designers! That is a brilliant idea.

    Craigslist and Kijiji are full of people wanting a bargain. Only a select few (the designer that you just had) may buy a $1500 gilded mirror there. If you can’t sell your items here, you may consider a store like Of Things Past. Hopefully StyleNorth will produce a client that knows the value of a set of cushions for $1101. I assume they are of high quality down and ultra opulent fabric.

    I’ve said too much.

  15. Ellen Says:

    Well, I feel better. I just had a foot stool reupholstered with fabric I chose and it doesn’t work at all. But it’s a cheap mistake compared with this (and I agree–adults should stand up for themselves).

  16. Lily Says:

    Geez, that is a shame. Giving a professional total trust, and the disappointment of getting something different is awful. I have not experienced it in the scale Jill and Jack have, but I can speak on behalf of anyone who has received a horrible haircut…but I digress.

    Hubby and I hired a designer a while ago, and we had the designer come up with a plan that we would execute ourselves at different times or stages. This was done because 1) we are a bit of control freaks, and 2) we were not working for the Bell team that won the lottery so we did not have the budget to execute the entire plan at once.
    I am puzzled at the fact there would be no recourse to return any of the items. Also, the whole point of getting a designer for us, is the industry discounts designers receive, so surely some of those items must have been discounted?

  17. Chris Says:

    Obviously, I’ve glossed over many of the details so as not to make this post an epic but Jill made it clear that she was constantly emailing the designer and assorted assistants to express her misgivings; they in turn, gave her the impression that she was being too controlling, essentially, a “We know what’s best, trust us” attitude.
    What I found most unconscionable was the billable hours: head designer $300 per, senior assistant $175 per, junior assistant $105 per and $75 per for administrative duties like making up the very high bill. When Jill and Jack complained about the hours being unreasonable for specific tasks, the designer actually told them, “Lawyers over-bill all the time.” This to a lawyer!

  18. nancy Says:

    Honestly, I don’t understand how they found themselves in this situation, as it’s described. No one can make you buy something. I doubt the designer did not run purchased items by them first for their approval. If they decided to let go and ‘trust’ with all, then that was their design decision and a foolish one if you’re after a personal space. The meetings or lack of meetings for their input should have sounded a huge alarm. Usually, when people are spending far less than $100,000, they are very interested in how it is being spent.

    Did they also not know at the outset what they were going to be paying for in terms of the fees? Fees are usually discussed up front. Invoices along the way should have also clued them in as to what their money was going to, meaning labor vs. the furnishings. Who would enter into a $100,000 contract without knowing specifics. No one I know. If you don’t want to pay $200-300 per hour for a service, then get someone else. If the designer isn’t consulting with you on how the room should look or is rejecting your preferences, and that fact also makes you uncomfortable, open a discussion at the time and/or get someone else.

    It’s awful that they’re unhappy with the result but it also seems the client was negligent on their own behalf. It doesn’t sound like the full story to me.

    Would love to know who the famous designer was. Sounds like one of the Canadian ladies.

  19. nisiepie Says:

    i would be interested in knowing who this designer is.

    although i am not entirely sure that the homeowners are complete victims. they are adults, professionals who had clear ideas of what they wanted. It just doesn’t make sense.

    and please correct me if i am wrong, but did they say they were throwing $100,000 at a living room/dining room decorating job? they claim to not be wealthy, but wow!

    it feels as if some details are missing, because the situation just doesn’t make sense.

  20. cat Says:

    Wow…I really feel sorry for all parties involved here.

    Can’t say that I’ve seen this much feedback on a Stylenorth blog in quite a while. Obviously, a heated subject – as blog discussions should be.

    Waiting to hear the debate from the designer; also the Cancon lesser known designer lights.

    Caveat Emptor.

  21. maz Says:

    Omigoodness! I feel so badly for you! A living room is a rectangle with a couch, two chairs, a coffee table, two end tables, side tables, various smalls, a rug, artwork, and curtains (treatments). I cannot even begin to imagine what I could have done with 100K! But I’m fairly certain I’d have about 80K left over. I think I’d send it to Japan.

  22. Lin Says:

    There are a lot of things in this story that simply don’t add up. Reveal? What’s with the reveal? As Lois said, this is real life not a television show! Who spends that kind of money and then waits to the big day to see what they’ve ended up with? Why agree to a skirted sofa if it’s not what you want? You prefer the Roman blinds inside the frame? Then say so! And as for having the Fortuny pendant replaced, again I’m with Lois—I too have never seen a “colourful” Fortuny shade.

    And the rates? Well, I agree they’re outrageous but surely they knew going in—one of them is a lawyer for God’s sake!—what the numbers were. As for spending $1,000 on a couple of pillows . . .

  23. alli Says:

    Since you can’t disclose the designer’s name, how about their initials.

  24. georgia Says:

    They didn’t want beige yet agreed to beige walls, beige sofa, beige desk, beige chair, beige pillows, beige fortuny. Yet somehow thought they would not end up with a beige room?

  25. Sandra Says:

    I kept thinking the same thing…why a reveal ? Was this done for a television show ? Was there any construction work done, taking down or moving a wall ? How could you spend 100K on paint and furnishings.Was there expensive art ? Possibly a hand woven rug made in Tibet ?Something doesn’t add up. Would really be interested to know who the designer was. And I would love to see the after the reveal photos.On another note I actually like the gilded mirror,it works with the blue sofa and chairs. As does the Fortuny pendant, the dining room table is very busy and a colourful pendant would be too much.

  26. Gus Says:

    Even the divine Ms. Sarah doesn’t always make her clients feel all fuzzy. Somewhere I recently read in the blogoshere a candid interview where she admitted that more than half of her project pieces for TV get radically changed by clients after the reveal. I believe she also said that the person who bought ‘Sarahs House’ after the show, completely redid it. If there’s someone out there that knows where this interview is, please post a link, so that others can see the details (don’t quote me!)

  27. sarah Says:

    Like many others have said, something doesn’t add up. I could have done their living room and dining room for 2K, as long as they didn’t mind having second hand Kijiji and Craigslist finds refurbished and refinished. And they would have had a far more unique space.
    PS $1000.00 for a pair of pillows is highway robbery I can’t believe anyone, designer or not would pay such a ridiculous price. I could make ones that look just the same for less than $40.

  28. Kelly Says:

    Oh how we’re not surprised. Alot of designers don’t listen; alot of clients aren’t vocal enough DURING the process; and there is always too much tossing of legal contracts when the convo gets heated. We agree with both sides of the commentary above, but rather than debate it further how about we turn the negative to the positive:

    It’s not about the money, it’s about helping. Chris please tell J+J that if they’d like to craft a new plan for their living/dining room our online design team would love to help them repair “their situation” at no cost.

  29. AML Says:

    Those of us whom are licensed “Interior Designers” appreciate your brief sentence outlining some of the regulating bodies of our profession. Reading the above posts we are reminded that the public needs to be educated that there is a big difference between an Interior Designer (licensed or intern), who has gone through rigorous education & professional training, and those “decorators” that call themselves such. It is an ongoing question whether HGTV has been a help or a hindrance to our industry as a whole….

  30. ALR Says:

    Wow – I read this yesterday and still can’t stop thinking about it! It is too bad that this happened. Seems like there really was no communication between the clients and the homeowners. I tend to agree that a $100K seems a tad excessive for a decorating budget unless there was some renovation involved (floors, fireplaces??). For that kind of money, I would have been sure to have interviewed at least 3 designers or decorators before deciding upon this one. No matter how good an individual seems on TV or what credentials they have on paper (ARIDO), you need to be able to get along with them – to be able to work with them and to allow for open dialogue throughout the process. As for the whole “designer vs. decorator” debate, just because someone is a registered Interior Designer, it doesn’t mean that they are automatically the best designer for you. Sometimes your local neighbourhood decorator is the best choice.

    As for the remedy to this situation, I tend to agree with the consignment option – Of Things Past is probably the best one to use for these items. I would love to hear more about what J+J want for their space – I think most of us here would love to offer some free advice to them to help them design their space just the way that they want it to be!

  31. Tim Says:

    Wow this post certainly generated lots of comments and rather heated conversations.

    Although I could understand some of the comments about “how could the couple let this happen”, “big reveal”, and “interview designers”, I do understand from Jill & Jack’s perspective that they hired this designer for what they’ve seen on TV and they like what they saw … and have probably seen many episodes and liking his/her ideas consistently before they picked up their phone and contacted the designer.

    $100K is a lot of cash for a couple of rooms and yes perhaps J&J could be a bit stronger in their position to stop the whole thing. But some designers do have the “trust me” attitudes and that’s not that easy for the homeowner to just pull the stop sign out and say “I do know better and NO I don’t like this”. Yes, J&J should have or could have done that… but they were intimated by the designer and the situation. Taking a leap of faith from what they’ve seen on TV, they hoped for the best…. only that the best didn’t quite happen.

    So perhaps we should just digest this post, probably as Christopher and J&J had intended, learned from J&J’s experience, and be better equipped when we considered hiring a professional on our next decorating/design project. Just like watching Holmes on Home, some homeowners did do their home work, sometimes bad things just happened and you’d only hope that you spotted them a little earlier.

    Thanks J&J for sharing with us their rather painful experience.

  32. Lois Says:

    Good afternoon. I’ve read the content and the comments. I cannot get it out of my head. What comes to mind is this. Common sense is not common. All this fiasco could have been avoided. I renovate houses for a living. Communication is everything. What else can be said?

  33. Karen J Says:

    Wow, I needed a glass of wine while reading this one!
    I’m with Lois. Communication is everything.

  34. Sundeep @ Designwali Says:

    Holy crap. That’s all I got to say..

  35. Maggie Says:

    I’m a little surprised by the lack of empathy for J&J and the suggestion that they were fools with their money. Truth is, they set a budget (albeit rather exorbitant) and hired a highly regarded designer to provide a service for them. Each of us purchases products and services every day, with the expectation that companies stand behind the quality, integrity and value of their product. And if they don’t, we have a fair amount of power as consumers. Typically, we can return the product or seek compensation for a faulty product or inadequate service. An even greater power is word-of-mouth which can seriously damage a company’s reputation, particularly in this viral world. I respect that J&J have chosen not to lynch this designer publicly. And yet they have chosen to share their misfortune (don’t you think they already feel like fools for having lost such a sum of money this way!) and have given us all a much needed “buyer beware.” Best to simply take heed from this story.

  36. Lois Says:

    Good morning Chris you are to be commended for blogging this. I like the *realness* of this space, not just happy, happy, with the latest trends, and ideas. Thank you

  37. Jimmy The Undercover Designer Says:

    That is a sad sad story that anyone in the design industry has heard a million and one times. Not sure about the details of what happened with this couple, but I was once in a similar situation, meaning having to redo what was done and “wrong”, later I discovered that some of the horror stories told by the couple about their previous designer were in fact caused by them. They were indecisive, they would change their minds at a whim and forget what they asked for, we had to have everything in writing to avoid future problems.
    Whatever this designer did is obviously wrong and this is what give designers a bad reputation and makes people very nervous dealing with the design industry

  38. Troy Says:

    Why isn’t the designer being named? If there was a high-profile “professional” who has done mediocre, dishonest work they should be called to task.

    Conversely, I think it would be really interesting to hear the designer’s side of the story…

    Incidentally, the first sofa (with the tuxedo arms) was really gorgeous.

  39. Lisa Hunter Says:

    I wonder if First Dibs isn’t a better choice than Craigslist. The Fortuny light fixture is worth a few thousand dollars, no? It seems a bit rich for the Craigslist crowd.

  40. Chris Says:

    To name the designer would be potentially libelous and I definitely don’t have the resources to take that fight on!

  41. Lorena Says:

    It would be interesting to hear the designer’s side of this story. Things are seldom black and white. Perhaps s/he will hear about this discussion and be brave enough to jump in.

    On another note, however; it’s practically an impossible feat to hire a designer who can work with a small budget. The $100k is not so surprising. I’ve witnessed several friends as they employed designers as I did myself once many years ago. My personal experience, as was my friends’, is that most will shop in high-end stores like Elte, Hollace Cluny, etc. Doubtless it’s easy to find beautiful things in stores like these and it also becomes a time saver for them. Compare the amount of time invested in buying a great light fixture at Elte compared to time spent scouring for a beautiful fixture at lesser known venues, vintage shops, online, etc. You get the picture. Needless to say $100k can go very quickly at Elte.

    The other thing I find a little laughable is how all designers talk about how they mix high and low. They’ll throw in some little piece from Ikea then use this as validation for buying everything else high end. What bargain shoppers!

  42. Lots to say Says:

    Though I was one of the most verbose in this thread (hence, the moniker), I think this thread evolved into criticism of Jill and Jack for the discrepancies in the story.
    If you have 100K to spend on just decorating (not structural), you are wealthy. As the subsequent post goes on to say, there are homes in the city that call for elaborate decor, and we don’t begrudge you on that basis. It’s not jealousy that evoked our commentary, it was the puzzling holes in the story.
    Having seen the additional photos, it is not hard to see where the 100K budget was spent.
    Yes, people, there are cushions that cost hundreds of dollars. You will NEVER see them at Homesense and you will never find them in droves. Labour often costs more than merchandise. Designers charge for ideas and time. Painters who have to tape off elaborate stripe patterns in awkward spaces with high ceilings are expensive. Fortuny pendant lights are show-stoppers and worth every penny if you can afford to indulge.
    Chris, perhaps the reason there was such an outpour of commentary is because your post gave a slight impression we were supposed to feel sorry for these people who have $100,000 to spend on prettying their home. Obviously most of us readers are shopping at Homesense and mixing high and low items in our homes. We are not/cannot give carte blanche to high profile celebrity designers. We can’t relate. You must admit, the trend is to “Decorate on a Budget”, up-cycle the dresser you found at the curb, turn a drop cloth into a rustic tablecloth… You rarely find, “How to Paint Your Fortuny Pendant Light ($6000)” featured in our favourite magazines.
    BUT… A great point was made! Even the wealthy (and they are wealthy) can get taken for a ride. Be part of the process and don’t wait till the end to say something vague like, ‘it (is) a lot to take in and I need to process it’ when what you mean is, ‘this is not what we discussed and this is not what we asked you to do.’

    What was lost in all the commentary is that the post was advertising these rejected big ticket items FOR SALE!
    I was interested in the mirror, but didn’t get a response to my private email.
    Have Jill and Jack successfully sold their furniture?

  43. Nancy Says:

    It’s not “class-conscious indignation” that has people perplexed and a bit unsympathetic. Who gives someone carte blanche with $100,000 for a surprise design of their home. I guess we’re all supposed to be appalled that they spent that much and didn’t get something they like. Designers are scum, beware. But a person has to wonder why they wouldn’t be looking out for their own interests in the outcome of their project. How many warning bells does a person need.

    Speaking for myself but I’m sure others, my issue is the way full blame is being put on the designer. Through no fault of our own we did not get anything we wanted on our design project. Our famous and renowned designer is therefore a crook. We were taken. No choices and decisions. No plans and drawings to sign off on. No pictures of furnishings or fabric and paint samples to see or choose from. No progress visits. No itemized invoices. They had us sending off checks for tens of thousands of dollars without a clue. We were hoping for the best but everything is wrong. What sense does that make. Absolutely none.

    Interior design is a process. A collaborative effort. Both designers and the clients who seek help know that, though in the end the result might not always be something that fulfills the client’s dreams. There’s a whole other side to this story that we aren’t aware of.

    Could also be they’ve discovered they don’t like their own taste, buyer’s remorse. It happens.

  44. Nancy Says:

    Maybe the above poster is right. It’s a for sale ad. Because I don’t understand what the kindly warning for everyone is. Participate, insist that they do not nix your preferences, know what you’re paying for, do not give another person control over your home design, make sure you know what they’re going to do beforehand. Common sense.

    I also wonder if they’re hoping people will figure out which Canadian TV designer it is that did this to them. Curiosity has certainly been peaked with the article.

  45. Dane Says:

    My comment:

    I decided to blog it.

  46. Brooke Says:

    This reminds me of an episode of Design Inc. where the client told Sarah Richardson that she hates yellow and what did Sarah do? Yep, used nothing but yellow to do this person’s outdoor space.

    Having said that, if you spend 1K on those two pillows with the Greek key trim that I can make myself for 20 bucks, then you’re kinda asking to be ripped off.

  47. Meredith Heron Says:

    While I’m sorry that this was their experience – looking at the designer’s version of the room and the client’s version of the same room clearly there was a breakdown in communication between parties.

    Sadly, the onus is on the client to get detailed quotes, specifications & a list of deliverables from the designer or decorator prior to paying even a deposit.

    ARIDO won’t guarantee you a successful relationship and end result with your designer but communicating your wants, needs & expectations fully will.

    Best of luck to you!


  48. Brandon Smith Says:

    Just like anything else there are two sides to every story. Although I understand (and can appreciate) the plight the clients had and what turned into what appears like a nightmare for them, I also can’t alleviate them of any fault in the matter.

    As Meredith puts it quite frankly above, it is up to the client to ensure that the product is what they are asking for prior to paying a single penny (dollar/pound/yen/euro). Being on the business end myself, our clients are required to sign off on the dotted line (be it on a sample, a photo, etc.) prior to making any orders regardless of whether there will be a phased installation or a big “WOW” at the end.

    NOW, with that being said, the designer too, has fault in this mess (at least from the perspective of the one side written in the article) as she/he apparently missed the boat when it came to the design and, as there is a reputation at stake should have tried his or her best to mitigate the situation.

    Personally, before publishing such stories it would be prudent to hear also from the designer’s viewpoint in order to ensure that both sides are being equally presented.

  49. H Says:

    Never hire a designer….my experience was just as disgusting and it was probably the same designer you used….same story…pay a lot of money for people who say they are professionals and then who don’t want to take responsibility for their actions…especially if they are a husband wife team… ONLY YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!!! Just take your time and when you see things to your liking pick them up and design yourself… least you’ll know what the REAL TRUTH is…

    ARIDO WILL ensure the so called professionals are accountable for their actions and relationships between “designers” and clients will always be good if those who say they do everything, including manage project’s are are true to their word!

  50. ANJULA Says:


Leave a Reply