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Tips for Hiring an Online Decorator

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Tips for Hiring an Online Decorator
Photo © Dougal Waters/Getty

Hiring an online decorator is a great way to get help and insight on how to decorate your home without paying expensive designer fees. But not every online decorator is equipped to assist you with your particular needs, and some may not help at all.

Here’s what you should look for when deciding whether to hire an online decorator.

A real-time location, phone number and contact person.
Be very wary of dealing with a design service where you can’t talk with a “real” person. At the very least, a phone number should be listed on the contact page. And test it: If you have to leave a message, make sure you receive a timely callback before you proceed.

Referrals.
I know anyone can drum up a fake list of so-called “satisfied clients,” but you should still ask. Ask to see a sample of what the online decorator recommended for a specific client, a sample of client and decorator dialog, and a sample of completed work.

Commonality of styles.
Don’t pick an online decorator that doesn’t favor your style. Yes, decorators should be able to think and work within a variety of styles, but you’ll have the advantage if your decorator already likes the same look that you do.

Someone with a firm understanding of your budget.
If the online decorator doesn’t seem concerned about budget or makes recommendations that don’t fall within your budget, the services will be a waste of your time. Move on.

An ability to listen.
This is often one of the main drawbacks of long distance communication, but a good online decorator will make e-mail work in your favor. A good decorator will ask a lot of questions, ask for photos of your room or space, and gather as much information possible to tailor his/her recommendations to your wants, wishes and needs.

Advising changes that can’t be properly or safely evaluated long distance.
Decorators shouldn’t get out of their league, especially when performing services online. Recommending that you move a wall or other structural element is a big no-no for most decorators, even more so from a distance.

The decorator’s affiliation with a furnishing, paint or decor corporation.
Most online decorators who work for a specific decor, paint or furniture company offer free services. Find out if your designer is affiliated with a specific company (or companies) before you hire him/her. Be wary of paying a designer who will steer you toward purchasing a particular company’s items. Online decorators should be able to recommend particular products without profiting greatly from it.

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