How do I begin?
· You may want to go through some of these FAQs to start, or simply fill out the form on the connect page, or call 416-524-5221. If you get voicemail, leave a detailed message and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
What can I expect after I connect?
· I always like to start with a telephone conversation where you basically get to ‘interview’ me to see if we are a good fit together. I will have questions about your space, style, budget and timelines, and I will then fill you in on how I may be able to help you out for your specific needs. At this time, you can ask me as many questions as you need about my services and fees; or, feel free to go through these FAQs to familiarize yourself with Toronto Designers.
I am not sure if I want a designer yet but I might want to inquire anyway.
· There is never any pressure if you want to start with a telephone conversation, or even just an email. I hope you will feel relaxed enough so that we can just get to know each other and figure out if you need my services.
What do I need to do to prepare for your initial consultation?
· Look for inspiration in photos so that I can understand your vision. You can send these images (on a Pinterest board or Houzz Ideabook…) in advance of our meeting, but it’s not necessary if you don’t have time as we can explore ideas when together too. As for what to do to your house – do nothing! Don’t tidy up as it is important for me to see how you live to see what may or may not be working with your current setup.
What makes you different than other designers?
· I truly strive to make you feel like you are my only client. Many have said they have fun with me while decorating. And it’s never pretentious and definitely not about labels. For me, getting to know you and how you live is key, and that is my main goal in making your space truly work very specifically for you. Practical solutions within your budget are first and foremost, followed closely by beautiful aesthetics. Also, I do like to consider the environment too.
What makes your designs and suggestions eco-friendly?
· I like to try to reuse as much as possible. I also like to recommend second-hand stores where possible. And lastly, it also helps not to waste, so working together ensures we get it right the first time around.
Are you a decorator or a designer and what is the difference?
· I am an interior decorator. An interior decorator works within the confines of a building’s parameters. I manage to do interior design work by working closely with contractors who prepare the drawings for permits, as needed, for me. I can then still design kitchens, bathrooms and even extensions together with their expertise to ensure it is all to code and safe. An interior designer requires a specific degree accepted by ARIDO. A designer is capable of doing working drawings for permits, including extensions.
What are your credentials?
· I have an undergraduate business/finance degree from Concordia University (Montreal), a Professional Interior Design degree from The Regent Academy of Fine Arts (England), and a certificate in Interior Design from Seneca College (Toronto)
How long have you been in business?
· Over 20 years. I have worked in the design field in a variety of capacities. I did several TV shows in the early 2000s, both live and recorded; I did set designing at Roy Thompson Hall; I have done presentations pertaining to this field; and have contributed to many magazines and newspaper articles. You can visit my accolades page for more details.
Are you insured for any issues that may arise?
· Yes, I have full interior design coverage for myself.
Are the contractors you recommend insured?
· Yes. I will not work with anyone who doesn’t have full WSIB coverage.
Do you only work in the GTA?
· Yes. Within one hour’s drive. But check in with me if you are further.
What can I expect from our initial consultation?
· Here, we get to meet each other and start the decorating venture. It is best to meet at your location so I can get a sense of what you have and how you live. We then come up with a plan for each space needed that includes all the elements of design – window treatments, lighting, lay-out (floor plans), colours, fabrics, flooring, etc. I try to re-use as much as we can and want, and we move forward from there. At the end of this consultation you will be handed personalized notes on the spaces we worked on, as well as a full package of resources which includes places to shop, trade & retail discounts, referenced contractors lists and helpful contacts and articles. If this is enough, take it and run as your time and budget allow. You will be armed with enough resources to do a lot on your own, with a plan that is tailor-made for you.
What if I already have most of my furniture but just need some finishing touches help?
· No problem! This is actually my favourite kind of design work. I love to work with what someone has as it is typically more personal this way. I might suggest some new purchases; for example, fresh paint colours, new lighting, trendy pillows, etc. Anything you need or prefer to keep, stays.
What if I started with another designer but can no longer work with them?
· We can either continue where the last designer left off, or start fresh. We don’t want to waste the efforts you have already paid for, but of course only if they are worth saving.
How do I contact one of your contractors/suppliers?
· After the initial consultation, I will give you a full list of my referenced professionals so you can contact them directly on your own. I can give you further information pertaining to each of them as to the best way each is handled… some are better with text messages, some on email, etc.
Do you have a list of stores and suppliers that you get discounts at?
· Yes! This is part of the portfolio that I give you at the end of the initial consultation. I pass on my full discount, not just a portion.
What if I change my mind about what I want out of your services?
· No problem. It’s all about you. There are no timelines, unless you want them. There are no agendas, unless you want that too. Your time and budget are key, so whatever fits. My only constant is the initial consultation, which is a minimum of two hours. After that, you choose… or we can choose together based on what seems to be best for you.
What if I only want colours chosen and nothing else?
· My time is yours as you prefer. Since I simply charge by the hour, you can choose exactly what you need from me.
After the initial consultation, what can I expect?
· After we’ve had our initial consultation, I like to send an email to acknowledge our time together. If I thought of anything to add to the plans while driving home, I like to include that too. I also attach a contract for you to have a look. If you are OK with the contract, you can then choose to sign, scan and email it back as you need. Even if this contract is signed, there is nothing to pay unless you use my services. Once it is signed, feel free to use as little or as much of my services as you need.
Where do we go after the initial consultation?
· After my email and contract signing, we move forward on the plan we came up with. You can continue to use my services only as you need and want, and at any time that I feel you can do some on your own to save on my fees, I will recommend that. I can help you shop or even shop for you; source products; and we will continue to collaborate on the plan to be sure it continues in the right direction. Sometimes a new piece is found for a steal that doesn’t quite fit the original plan… so we tweak. Styling surfaces, organization, and hanging pictures can all be part of this little bit more.
Will you do 3D visuals for me?
· No. This is not something I do. I use paper and pencil and old-school drawings. And I’m pretty quick at this point too. I do scaled floor plans on graph paper as needed, and that works well for most applications and designs. If 3D drawings are needed, I can hire someone on your behalf to do these. But honestly, I have never needed to do that yet as the small scaled drawings have always proven to be enough. Here is an example of what I can do for you.
Do you do kitchen and bathroom design?
· Yes! I love to do that! I am an interior decorator by degree, so in order to do interior design work, I work together with a contractor to figure out where walls can come down and toilets can be moved to, etc., all as needed. For the working drawings needed, the contractor’s kitchen or millwork company will include that with their design. If going with an Ikea kitchen, I can help with that at one of their locations too. Scaled hand-drawn floor plans, what I always like to start with, is often even enough for some contractors.
Do you have contractors and other suppliers I can use?
· Yes! I have several referenced professionals that I have personally worked with over the years. And my list is constantly being updated as needed too. You can use one of them or one of your own. I can work with any contractor of choice since I simply charge by the hour.
What if I have my own contractor already lined up?
· That works. I can work with whomever works best for you.
How quick are you to answer emails and calls?
· Quick! Lightning speed is what one client said. But that said, if I am with a client or not at my phone or computer, it won’t be immediate. Same day is typical unless I am on holiday. And yes, sometimes I am still emailing at 11:00 in the evening.
Do you get designer discounts? And how much do you get?
· I pass along all my designer discounts to my clients. The percentage ranges from store to store and supplier to supplier. I get 10% and up. You need to be a client of mine to receive these discounts. Typically the store needs to be in touch with me to ensure you are my client, but I do not charge for the time needed to arrange this if it is by email or phone. If I need to be there in person (some, but not many, require this), then I do charge for my time.
I understand I will get discounts at various stores and suppliers. How long will I be privy to that?
· Once you’ve hired my services, then for as long as I am in business.
What are your hours of operation?
· I work all the time! Well, not all the time. I do sleep and take holidays. But, I do work when it’s most convenient for the client, so evenings and weekends are definitely on the agenda as needed. Setting up appointments is simply about us both being available. I don’t start consultations before 10am to avoid rush hour as much as possible.
How much in advance do I need to call for an appointment?
· This really depends. I like to say I can see a client within a couple of weeks, but we have to both be available at a convenient time. Sometimes it even works out that the next day is available.
What if I just want to work with you online with no personal visits?
· This is a possibility but does require some attention to what it is I would expect you to be able to do for this to succeed. Lots of photos and measurements of a room would be required. For this, I would require a signed contract in advance with a scan of your ID, as well as a retainer by eTransfer.
Do you take calls when we are working together?
· No! When I am with you, I am with you and the time is 100% yours. That said, if I am expecting a very important call, I will forewarn you in advance and keep my phone in my pocket. But I have to say, that has only happened twice in my 20+ year career.
How much do you charge?
· The first two hours of the initial consultation is $349. After that, the hourly rate goes down to $95 in 15 minute increments. Follow-up visits are down to $95 an hour. HST is added.
o Hourly $95 plus hst
o 15 minutes $23.75 plus hst
Do you have minimums for your hourly rates?
· Yes. Minimum two hours for in-home. Minimum one hour if we meet at a store. Minimum 15 minutes for phone or email inquiries.
How do your hourly rates work?
· I have a minimum two hours for in-home. A minimum one hour for shopping. And a minimum of 15 minutes for email or phone inquiries. Some get alarmed at the 15 minute minimum, but if I have to wrap my head around your space it does take a bit of time to get it right. What I like to recommend is that if a client does some of their own legwork (shopping, sourcing, etc.), then they can put together an email with images, links and the like so that it becomes more worthwhile. But, if a quick email is asking about one small thing that I can answer quickly, I won’t charge. If the day goes on with many quick questions, it will add up to the one charge of 15 minutes, or the amount of time used if more.
Do you take a retainer if I continue to work with you?
· No. I trust my clients and I simply work by the hour. I do, however, have a contract that I prepare for you to have a look at after our initial consultation. It basically states that you agree to pay me for my time and I agree to pass on my designer discounts where available…With a few other legal protections.
Do you charge for travel fees?
· There are no travel fees if you live within my no fee range: in the GTA the boundaries are Richmond Hill down to the water, Scarborough in the east and Mississauga in the west. Beyond these limits, there is a $95 travel fee to within one hour of driving time. Beyond one hour is where I stop. BUT, this doesn’t mean I can’t work online for you too.
What if I need your help to get a designer discount?
· The store or supplier typically just needs to confirm you are my client. They can email or call. I will answer as soon as possible. Some stores, however, need me to be there in person. If that is the case, you can assess whether an hour of my time with you there makes it worthwhile. (Of course we can use the hour to further discuss ideas too)
If I go with one of your contractors, do I pay you or them?
· Because of how my insurance works, I am only covered for myself. Therefore, you hire and pay the contractors directly on your own.
Some designers work on flat fees. How come you don’t?
· Flat fees are not always what they seem to be. I do work fast, but I don’t want to work fast just so I can finish your job and get to the next one. Working carefully with my time allows for the best solution, not just the fastest. It also allows me to suggest some of the things you can do on your own to save on my fees.
How can I pay?
· I accept payment in the form of cash or eTransfer. After the initial consultation, I expect payment for the time we spent together. Your personalized notes, drawings and portfolio will be handed to you at the end of this initial consultation.
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