Natural and Unnatural Disaster Turns into Design Spectacular

Some of you have never contacted an Interior Designer before for a number of reasons: costs, you might be a DIY~ers (do it yourself) type of person, or out of fear that you don’t know what you are getting yourself into. Hiring a professional interior designer can be somewhat scary, especially if they weren’t referred or you are used to doing things yourself.

Today I am writing about a client of mine (with their permission of course) who thought doing it yourself was “ideal”. That is until they found themselves in a world of trouble because they weren’t from the area, and knew very few people.

Professional Designers typically have a team of contractors, electricians, painters, flooring contractors, custom upholsterers, and custom curtain makers, etc. that they work with. Some work for the designer, others are simply sole proprietors who work “with” that particular designer. Nonetheless, it is important to meet a professional in the industry who can guide you in the right direction, with the right team of people, to make your experience the best ever and here’s why…

Theresa and Jon bought their home, and 6 months after their purchase they were hit by Hurricane Matthew. Their entire house, including all of their furniture, walls, flooring, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. needed to be replaced. They set out to hire a contractor without the help of a design professional. When hiring a contractor, unless they are a referral (and sometimes even when they are, such as in this case) it is wise to talk with a professional who is actually in the industry. Theresa and Jon were referred to a contractor by their neighbor. This neighbor never worked with the contractor himself, but decided it was a good idea to refer him to his neighbors even though he wasn’t sure that the guy was valid.

They began working with this referred contractor, and went under contract with him. Theresa’s sister Karen, suggested they hire a designer once they decided to redesign the whole house, and so they called “A Colorful World.” When I met with Theresa and Jon, they were delightful and excited about the opportunity to get their house done the way they wanted to. I asked them if they had a contractor or any team on hire, and they told me they had hired a guy named David. Ultimately David would be preparing the house to my design suggestions. I had never heard of David, even after being in the area for 12 years, and I’ve worked with many contractors or at least heard of most of them. When I went under contract with Theresa and Jon we started getting into the detail of where they were with David, and they asked me to look over their contract….I was FLOORED. David was over charging them in every corner, so I began to ask questions like….how much money have you given David at this point? (They weren’t even two weeks in) …..$72,000.00 YES, you heard right and the only thing done were the walls, which ended up having to be taken back down. I literally panicked and said why did you pay him all this money already? The total project cost was only $80,000.00. They said “He asked for it.” Ok everyone….NEVER, I repeat, EVER agree to pay that much money upfront. There is absolutely no reason for it. I said I need to meet David. So we set up a meeting and I met David, but prior to our meeting, Theresa and Jon wanted to meet to talk things over. When we went to their house I had the contract David wrote in my hand and he ripped it out of my hand and said that is none of your business (FIRST TIME MEETING, ummm…) I said excuse me, my clients have made this my business…he ignored me and walked away.

Now mind you, as a professional, and working in the industry for 16 years, that has never, ever happened. Needless to say I was completely scared for my clients. Once we left the meeting, I asked them lots of questions…his website, where they found him, etc. I then decided to do a little investigating.

I talked to my contractors, asked around about this mystery guy, and we couldn’t find out anything, except a really bad website, and then, well…. things hit the fan. He started to become unraveled, telling my clients they couldn’t have the bathroom cabinets they wanted, or he only gave them two choices for flooring, and two choices for cabinets. I was floored, again. I asked them what they wanted to do, but they were stuck and praying that this would all work out….until it didn’t and David took their neighbor for $140,000.00 and Theresa and Jon for $76,000.00. Almost $200,000.00….and he’s gone!

When my clients went to see a lawyer, they found out that he wasn’t even licensed and the owner lived in Mexico and had another location in another state….they would never see their money again. So…now after the tragedy of Hurricane Matthew…they were at a loss in many ways. The project was held up for over a month because David had a permit on the property that needed to be released and we could’t do anything until it is. So…we brought in my team of contractors, electricians, flooring guys, painters, etc. Then we basically had to start over from there. The only thing David’s team did was put up walls, take out tile floors (which wasn’t done) and re-frame the master bathroom shower (which had to be completely redone). It is absolutely detrimental to hire a professional in this case, unless you do everything over yourself. My team could have saved Jon and Theresa so much money, time and heartache.

Sometimes we think we can do things on our own to “save” money, but in some cases we actually end up losing money. Save your money…hire a professional.

This project has been very special to me. I took over the full design, from floor to ceiling, including furniture, kitchen, bathrooms….I not only had clients to work with, I made some really awesome friends. Take a look at our journey of before and after pics. This was not a job for me, it was a passion and my friends absolutely love their home.

I am blessed to do what I love, and meet clients that become a part of my life!