I know plenty of people long to hire interior decorators, but for what it's worth, this is something I'd never do. I did hire an architect who spent a fair amount of time walking around in my house after the fire, after which he drew up plans with suggestions, almost all of them excellent and quite affordable, regarding improvements I might make when reconstruction began, but that's different, to me, from hiring someone to advise me on what color to paint, or how to decorate, a room. Those decisions are personal, and I'm sufficiently independent and confident in my own judgments that I'd never trust anyone else to make them for me. When I'm not sure about colors, I bring home reams of paint swatches and tape them to the walls in the room I'm planning to paint, and then I check them out in various light. Next, I narrow down my choices and buy a few pints of paint, and then I paint patches, approximately 4 feet square, which I may look at for up to a week before I make my final selection, with which I'm inevitably pleased, which is more than I can say for many people who trust interior decorators to determine what they'd like.
Years ago, I attended a housewarming where I knew hardly anyone, so I did what I tend to do in those circumstances: I headed for the bookcases to see what this guy read. But I was immediately puzzled, because I couldn't figure out his filing system. Philosophy was next to fiction; poetry was next to home improvement, etc.
"What's up with your books?" I asked him, as I sipped an excellent gin and tonic.
His face darkened ominously and he looked at his younger brother, expectantly.
"Uh, I recommended an interior decorator..." the younger brother began, "and she arranged the books on the bookshelves..."
"By SIZE and COLOR!" his older brother finished the sentence, furiously.
Ah yes. That would be a problem for those of us who read. Another reason I grow quiet when the topic of interior decorators comes up is because for some reason, the topic always takes me back to a weekend when I was a bride, when the ex and I had been invited to a fabulous private club in UP Michigan, The Huron Mountain Club, where the ex's cousin had a cabin (technically, it was, indeed, a cabin, but one that Ralph Lauren would have killed for) on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Huron Mountain Club is incredibly beautiful and wild and remote and, in those days, we were out of range of television, phones and radio...there was just the scent of pines, the cool, crisp, sunny air, the sound of the waves crashing against the shore at night...my idea of a perfect vacation...until the afternoon the 2 other women in our group began talking about what tennis camps they'd attended as teenagers. Give me a break! Tennis camps?!?!?!? Really?!?!?!? Puh-leez! I never attended any frigging tennis camps, I muttered to myself, feeling all Holden Caulfieldish as I kicked dusty leaves with my Bass Weejuns, suddenly realizing that although I was at this fabulous place with everyone else, I was really there with my nose pressed up against the glass, as it were...
Sometimes, the stories you hear when people start talking about hiring interior decorators are hilarious. A friend told me that one of his friends, whom I happen to know is close to my age (I'm 61) has a Donald Duck theme in her house, a statement that, by itself, came dangerously close to making me laugh so hard I snorted, something I attempted to camouflage with a prolonged coughing fit, as I listened to his oh-so-serious account of her experience working with a decorator. He said that Ms. Donald Duck had hired a decorator who successfully integrated the Donald Duck theme throughout her house, by doing things like painting the legs on chests of drawers chrome yellow (like duck feet), yada yada yada. The interior decorator probably laughed all the way to the bank.
The reason I've been thinking about this at all is that there was an article in the New York Times this week titled, Shopping for Chaise Longues, in which a couple of architects recommended 8 chaise longues, "comfortable enough to curl up on with a book on a chilly afternoon". I'm a big fan of chaise longues; in fact, I have a well-used, quilt covered one in a corner of my bedroom, so I turned to the article. What was I thinking? It was a clear illustration of why, even if I could afford it (and I can't) I'd never hire anyone to advise me about this stuff.
Prices of the 8 chaises selected by the architects range from the $26,000 chaise pictured at the top of this post to the $2500 chaise pictured below (which doesn't look like a chaise at all to me, but DOES look like a couch missing an arm....and while I'm at it...$26,000.00 for a chaise? Seriously? Who are these people??????)
None of the 8 in the article looks comfortable enough to curl up on with a book on a chilly afternoon, but this is exactly what I like to do on my infinitely comfortable, under-$1000 chaise, which I purchased at Crate and Barrel a few years ago: