Monthly Archives: August 2014

Choosing the Right Furniture for Your Room

Small-Home-Office-Interior-Ideas Wooden-Home-Filled-with-Natural-Small-Office-Home

As with most professionals and business owners, my personal projects always get put on hold when I get busy and I look after everyone else first. So it’s a pleasant surprise to have a few days to finally get my office repainted and my office cleaned out and re-arranged. It was on my “to do” list before summer ended and my daughter was back in school, so I’m cutting it close!

Like many homes, my home office is right by the front door. The room is an odd shape with one wall at a 45 degree angle and 2 windows, which provide an abundance of light, but limit my use of the space. I’ve had the same floor plan in the room for 18 years now with my desk facing one corner and the door behind me. This worked when I was working alone, but now I have people in and out of my office all day and it’s just plain awkward sitting with my back to the door. 

I’ve desperately wanted a change for the last 3-4 years and have been planning a new design for a while! However, the furniture layout has always been a challenge as I like a certain style of furniture, more traditional with a lot of character, not the typical box store office furniture solutions. I’m also dealing with an odd shape space and I require a lot of storage! Before I run out and buy something it needs to accommodate how I work in my space! We have 3 businesses and I manage the paperwork for all so I have a tonne of paperwork that I need to keep organized and accessible and at my fingertips. Add all my samples for the design/decorating biz and my office can seem pretty cluttered if I don’t have proper storage. What would work best in my space, an L-shape with a hutch along one wall with storage below for files and storage for my sample collection just isn’t easily found in the size and style I want. I have room for another storage unit or bookshelves and chairs across from my desk so my team can sit and look at the computer screen as we discuss and plan stage jobs. 

It’s a matter of combining all the different functions required in the space, then finding the appropriate furniture that will fit in the space, than finally using colors that make me happy and make me feel good in the space. An office is a very personal space and probably where many of us spend a huge chunk of our days. It’s important to have colors around you that make you feel good. Anything that would keep you calm and lower your stress level on bad days and make you feel warm and happy when you are in the space. I love warm rich colors. The right color makes me feel the room is giving me a big hug when I walk in – I know it sounds strange! But have you ever stopped to pay attention to the way colors in a room make you feel when you walk in? Some hues are cool and calming, others are warm and embracing and others can be vibrant and exciting. Color sets the mood.

I’ve found the biggest challenge to redesigning my personal space has been finding the right pieces, in the right scale, to give me the storage I need while keeping it neat and clean and uncluttered. Taking into account the function of each piece and whether it has enough storage and function. Then finding the right style to ensure it’s exactly the right look I want. Finally, it has to be the right scale of furniture for my space. LOL – just a little particular when it comes to planning a space! Working for yourself is by far most challenging, I’ll be quick to berate myself if something doesn’t work because “I know better than that”! Then again, I’m also patient enough to wait until I find the exact right pieces before I buy anything and regret it. Down to a few options now, just a little more research before I place the order. For now, we will finish the painting and de-cluttering, I should have my furniture selection completed by then. Can’t wait to have it all done and then I’ll be sure to share the final result!! Happy painting!!




Ordering Furniture

dining room living room

When you ordered furniture last, was it delivered on time? Online “in stock” and delivery dates promising delivery in home in 3 days can be misleading. Even when you place orders in the store, the stock on hand can be misleading. Many large retailers have “estimated” delivery dates online or in the store which obviously influence our selections. Well don’t believe it! Those on hand quantities are often Canada wide or at the least regional, which could mean 3 sofas available in Western Canada!

I was working with a design client earlier this summer and I actually called the commercial sales representative in the store to verify the Winnipeg stock before placing a furniture order. Well in the 2-3 days it took for me to obtain the information, relay it to my client for approval and place the order, the quantity and delivery schedule changed dramatically!! Nearly twice as long in some cases! Knowing that delivery was important do you think for a moment that the retailer would verify delivery when I placed the order? Not a chance. They take your payment up front, then wait a week before they tell you it’s back ordered. The order was delivered in a total of 6 separate shipments including one to exchange a broken piece. 

If you went to a restaurant and received your meals 2 hours after placing the order, and then received the meals for your table all at separate times, no one would go back! So why do furniture stores get away with such shoddy service? Maybe because most people buy furniture infrequently. The next time you buy, you try a different store, etc. So far I have yet to find a store that will deliver when they said so initially, at the time they say they will arrive, and will actually assemble the furniture upon delivery. 

Delivery drivers in most cases are just movers and they “don’t assemble” furniture, at least according to their contract with the furniture store. Why not? Most furniture requires some basic assembly! Many movers will not even remove the large boxes and packaging the furniture comes in. Again, why not? Why isn’t this part of the service, especially when Winnipeggers are limited by the bin to the amount of trash and recycled garbage they are allowed each week? Wouldn’t it make more sense for assembly and disposal of packaging to be handled by the contracted moving company? After all if you are delivering to someone in a condo who does not have a vehicle, they need to be able to dispose of the packaging. In addition, instead of up selling me a warranty I will probably never use, a small assembly and set up fee and disposal of packing might be a better up sell that at least has some value to the consumer.

Another tip I learned this summer. Allow extra time for people away on vacation when placing orders in the summer. The rep who took the order, only placed a part of the order before he left on vacation. Result, a one week delay. By then the stock on hand had changed and we were waiting additional time. Then the order processing person was away, someone was filling in but made an error. Finally, the delivery drivers were running behind and could not accommodate the hours that deliveries were accepted at the building. Result, they had to return later in the week after re-scheduling the order. Talk about a string of errors and delays. I was honestly at my wits end!

Maybe it’s time we had some modifications to the advertising online and in store. If the store claims delivery next day delivery or delivery in 3 days – it should be in the clients’ home 3 days after ordering. If not, there should be some hefty fines or penalties to the Retailer for false advertising claims. In most cases, clients will make decisions and base expectations on the information they are given when they place the order. It’s pretty simple, promise what you can deliver! Set realistic expectations! Deliver what you promise! Then you have happy clients and employees and delivery drivers, etc…. Realistic expectations go a long way towards ultimate customer satisfaction!

Squeezing In Rush Jobs

Living Room Dining Room

It’s in our nature to want to help someone when they are in a jam. At least, it’s in my nature to want to do so! However, this can quickly backfire, if we are not careful. The reality is that any good job takes time! More specifically, a great design takes time to plan and complete. You can still have a job done in less time, but it simply will not be the same quality as a job that had adequate planning and preparation. 

As business owners, we become accustomed to producing a certain standard of work once you have been in business for a while. Most understand that the final job will reflect the time and preparation you have put into the design. In many cases a rush job, will often look like just what it is, a rush!  Now, there are times when a rush job can come together well, but more often than not there are things that you would do differently if you had had time to shop for a different piece of décor that would simply look better than what you had on hand. It may be that to my trained eye, it doesn’t look quite right, but to others it looks great! However, when you become accustomed to a certain standard of work, it is hard to be happy with less!

I found myself in an unusual position a few weeks ago. I received a call from a Realtor I had never worked with. He was scrambling trying to find someone to stage a listing the following week. He said he had been trying to find a stager for 3 weeks! He had a very specific timeline and I explained I was booked with another stage job the day he requested and wouldn’t be available. My clients had booked me close to a month ago and it couldn’t be changed. I was booked pretty solid the following week and was leaving on vacation the week after, so I really didn’t have a lot of time available. He insisted it was a new home and the homeowners had very nice furniture so they really didn’t need much. I agreed to do a consult for the homeowner the Friday afternoon so I could tell them what they needed to do to get their own home ready for showings the following week. 

Once I arrived, they wanted to rent some basic artwork, décor and accessories and have me stage the home. They were leaving for vacation and wanted the home ready for showings while they were gone, they were in a jam. I relented, genuinely wanting to help these nice people get the best price for their home. I agreed to squeeze in their “small” job and re-arrange some furniture and accessorize their home. Between designs, planning, packing and actual staging it took 12 man hours. Time I really didn’t have in an already jam packed full week, and we ended up working overtime in order to get the job completed for their timeline. In the end the job looked good. It certainly looked better than it was before we arrived. However, it has bothered me ever since. There were certainly things I would have done differently if I had had more time. 

So while on vacation I realized that I did not do myself any favours! I exhausted myself and my team with too many overtime hours. For the first time working with a Realtor and a potential source of new leads, I did not make the best impression that I could have, and may have cost myself future business, as a result. Although the design did look better than how the home looked originally, it certainly did not give the best representation of my work. I was disappointed in myself for taking on too much and trying too hard to accommodate others. Sometimes, it makes more business sense to turn business away than to compromise your design and reputation. What an interesting lesson to learn and what an even more interesting position to be in to learn this lesson! 

After all, a Realtor would never take offers on a home before they had adequate time to photograph, market and show the listing. From now on, it is more important for me to do my best for each job than to fit in a last minute job that I simply do not have adequate time to design to the best of my abilities. I would rather ensure that each client be thrilled with a fabulous job, than simply be content with a good one. In most cases, if the home lists on Thursday or the following Tuesday normally doesn’t make a huge difference in the sale price! Isn’t it better to prepare properly and take the time to do it right the first time?