Face it. Some of us got it, and most of us don’t. Decorating and design is an art form. Anyone can learn basic rules that will help them “paint-by-numbers.” But if you want your home to be a masterpiece, you will always benefit from a decorator’s expertise. An ability to solve tough problems Whether it’s an odd-shaped room or family heirlooms you need to work with, a decorator can stand back and take an objective look at your situation. Expertise to prevent costly mistakes Most people only do a complete decorating makeover once or twice in their lives. With the cost of furniture and accessories today, getting off to the wrong start can be very expensive. Access to lines not normally seen in a store The typical furniture store carries products from a few dozen manufacturers. Considering there are thousands of lines to choose from, the consumer sees only the very tip of an extremely large iceberg. Decorators expand your choices because they often deal with more companies. Negotiating help with your partner This can be either your easiest part or your worst nightmare. Insist that your decorator clearly define the look you are after and sell the idea to both of you. Depending on the trust or relationship, you can ask the decorator to help you both come to a mutual agreement by making suggestions or giving their “professional opinion.” In extreme cases you may have to agree ahead of time to allow the decorator to act as a binding arbitrator when neither spouse will back down. The decorator’s decision becomes final and both people will have to stick with it. Help and guidance with the decision-making process A good decorator will help you find the exact look you love, but haven’t been able to find. They help you define your personal preferences and tastes, then find the right products to put it all together. Better quality products Almost all the strictly e-commerce stores carry low to medium end brands. Most department stores and chain furniture stores have low end to medium lines. Decorators have special arrangements with many of the better top quality brands to offer some or all of their products. Access to resources Like any other profession, decorators go to Trade Shows and build local contacts. These give them valuable resources to call on for new ideas and help. Guidance in setting priorities A good decorator will help you determine your budget and then map out a plan to get your project finished. Very few people have the money to do a complete makeover from attic to basement. You usually have to define a theme for your home, then work on each room or section of the house a piece or a set at a time. The decorator will think long-term and help you collect or negotiate for just the right pieces over a drawn out process. If you are really tight on funds, you can still achieve a stunning look but it might take you years or decades to do. Access to showrooms and manufacturers Manufacturers have this screwy idea that if furniture is locked up in huge buildings that are only open to a tiny percentage of the world who carry decorator’s credentials, then they’ll sell more furniture. Whether you’re browsing the upscale design and furniture stores in Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver, or a discount store in Saskatoon, there are literally millions of ideas and products that you will never see unless you get into the designer showrooms and warehouses, or an industry-sponsored trade show. A professional decorator will have a pass; ask them to take you there. Help getting the job done Experience counts for a lot. A good decorator can see the big picture from empty room to finished showcase. They know the strings to pull, the pitfalls to avoid, they can cut through the choices and suggest the winners. Find a good one and stick with them.