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Long distance decorating with a designer

I love the New Jersey interior designer who worked with me on my home here in the Garden State. How can I work with her on my vacation home in North Carolina without incurring the costly expense of her travel?

With the help of a camera, a tape measure and detailed notes, retaining the services of your trusted New Jersey designer to work on a long distance project can be done with little or no additional costs. However, not all designers are willing to take on a project without a site visit; hopefully yours will!

Should your designer accept the job, you must investigate the laws in that state which regulate design services. Some states have licensing or permit requirements which must be followed.

Once this issue is resolved, be willing to sign a waiver prepared by your designer clearing her of any problems caused by or related to incorrect measurements. Saving on designer travel time and related expenses, means you will be doing the field measuring!

Field measuring is easier by starting off with builder's drawings or realtor's plans. If neither is available, sketching a simple floor plan of each room will do.

Once you have the floor plans completed, mark the overall length and width of each room. To get the other necessary plan measurements, pick a corner in the room and move to the right measuring to the first architectural element in that wall. For example, if there is a window or a jog in the wall, measure to the edge of that element and then measure its width. For windows and doors, measurements should be indicated from outside of molding to outside of molding. Be sure to indicate on the plan depths of anything projecting into the room such as steps and fireplace hearths.

Now, get your camera out to take photos of each wall and develop them immediately. Indicate on the photo the ceiling height, base board molding height, window heights from the floor to the sill and the height from the sill to the top of the trim. Fill in any other heights of details that may fall on the elevation such as crown moldings and fireplace mantels.

Additional close up shots showing molding, tile and cabinet details will be extremely helpful to your designer. Be sure to include photos of the ceiling for lighting information and photos of the floors showing all types of materials used.

With all this prep work done by you, your designer can now begin decorating from New Jersey. Below outlines some things that can make you rest at ease while being so far from North Carolina:

*A paint schedule and all furniture layouts can be done by your designer from New Jersey.

*Soft window treatments can be fabricated by the designer's workshop. I recommend keeping them as simple as possible to avoid needing exact or critical dimensions.

*Wall covering, shades, blinds, furniture, lighting fixtures, area rugs, carpeting, tile, etc. can all be ordered as usual through your designer.

*Window treatment and carpet installation will be made by your designer with a local installer. I recommend that you do the hiring of local painters, paper hangers and tile installers.

*Arrangements with a delivery service in North Carolina to accept all shipped items (including window treatments and wall covering) will be made by your designer. This company will also deliver all the items to your home. Furniture and rugs will be placed according to the floor plans your designer has sent them.

I am confident that this team work approach will allow your project to run smoothly and that your vacation home will have the mark of a wonderful designer from the great state of New Jersey!

Published in the Star Ledger, July 18, 2009

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