Confessions of a Charlotte interior designer

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Note: Love confessions? Here’s the entire confessions series collection. If you’d like to participate, please email hi@charlotteagenda.com. We promise to keep you anonymous.


Wouldn’t it be nice to have a professional completely decorate your house? After looking at prices, something tells me that the people in Charlotte who can afford interior designers are the same ones who have a “house manager.” Here are the confessions of one local interior designer about barn doors, a very aggressive turtle and $1,200 trash cans.

What’s the best part about your job? The worst?

I love the excitement my clients feel when I show them renderings of their new space.

My least favorite part is when clients try to shop around for the best deal because they think I’m trying to scam them into paying more.

Yes, the faucet from the big box hardware store looks just like the one I had quoted, but the interior parts and the finish are far worse in quality.

I’m not in the business of getting you the cheapest remodel, I’m in the business of getting you the highest quality remodel within the agreed upon budget range that we discussed.

Is there a design trend that everyone’s doing right now that you hate?

If one more person asks me for a barn door, I might lose my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a modern farmhouse look, but most of the time a barn door style just isn’t appropriate for someone’s home. Plus, they’re big, bulky and they don’t offer the same amount of privacy that a regular door would.

For your sake and your guests—do not, I repeat, DO NOT, put a barn door on the entrance to your bathroom.

Do you judge every room you walk into?

Judge, maybe not. Observe, you bet.

Some of my friends joke that they get nervous when I come over because they don’t want me to judge their homes, but I promise I’m not. Most of what I look at is the “permanent” stuff in a room (cabinets, countertops, tile, flooring), but I understand that a lot of people are limited in what they can do.

I only get a little judgey when you’re having people over and you don’t make an effort to clean up. That’s just plain lazy.

Tell me about the weirdest thing that’s happened to you at work.

I had a client’s pet turtle try to bite my toe off.

He was surprisingly fast and greeted me at the front door with his mouth wide open about an inch away from my foot before I realized what was going on.

My clients just left him out so I had to pace around the room while taking measurements because I had sandals on and he kept getting dangerously close to my pinky toe.

Have you ever found anything weird during a renovation?

One time while my guys were working in the master suite, they had to get into the closet space.

Guess where the clients had put their enormous box of sex toys? Pro tip: if you know we’re going to be working in your home, take the time to move anything you might not want us to see. (Or maybe just don’t put it in a see-through box.)

What’s the most money a client has spent on interior design?

I’m currently working on a whole house remodel that is over $630,000. (They purchased the house for $540,000). In their defense, we basically gutted the entire house and the only things we kept were the exterior walls and foundation.

I also had a client who wanted trash and recycling in two different areas of her kitchen and didn’t want them to be visible. After custom cabinet inserts and installation (times two), she spent around $1,200. On trash cans. TRASH CANS.

Any other confessions?

Sometimes the embarrassing details of your personal life are the most helpful when I’m designing a space.

A client told me he HATES comfort height toilets because it’s harder for him to get the job done on them. So, I specified a lower height toilet and we discussed the option of tiling a platform around it, sort of like a built-in Squatty Potty.

Another one of my past clients was on the larger side, so the standard width we use for clearance around the kitchen island wasn’t going to work for her. No problem—a few tweaks and we came up with a kitchen that she was going to feel comfortable in.

I’m not here to judge you, it’s your home and how you use it is important.

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