Thursday, August 06, 2009

Disappointed. Now What?

The moment I had been so excited about this week finally came, but what a huge letdown.

It was about our family room design appointment at a local furniture store. Three weeks ago Paul and I wandered in and took our sweet time looking around. Found a sofa we loved on sale. Then went to another store and found a recliner we loved. The second store's manager told us we could get a free in-home design done complimentary if we were going to buy a "reasonable amount" of furniture. I asked what the designer would do. She comes to your house, I was told, and takes measurements, talks to you about your tastes in style, color, fabrics, and then goes back to the store and scours the resources (pieces in the store and in catalogs). Then (again, this was all told me by the manager) she brings you in to see her presentation. "Ever watch Designer's Challenge?" Yes, I do. Love it. "It's like that."

The designer came out and spent time measuring the room and sketching it and talking to me. We agreed to the "worldly" look. In addition to maps and globes, I like clocks, foreign words, the alphabet. We like cherry wood, leather with nailhead trim on the seating, wrought iron and mixed metals. Need better lighting. Want to keep sage green walls. Plan to put in a fireplace. Yada, yada. Lots of information. She took lots of notes. She also told me it would be helpful to go down to the larger showroom and make a list of things I like there to give her an idea of my style.

I did that within the week. Took a good hour and 15 minutes, pen in hand, jotting down item numbers and even sketching some of them. Got excited thinking I could hand her my style choices and she, the professional, would pull a whole room together, editing what I gave her to fit the room. Even got excited about some of the lamps on clearance for ridiculously low prices.

Went back last week and the designer was on vacation. The manager took me upstairs and she kindly and patiently showed me the 90% off stuff. I adored a certain coffee table with wrought iron legs and a coppery top. I tagged a botanical print originally $179 for $17. Asked the mgr if I should buy it then or just put it with the other things I found to consider when the designer came back. She said wait.

Okay, so tonight I was all kinds of excited to go see our presentation. In my mind I am expecting something akin to Designer's Challenge, except with one board, not three to choose from. I'm expecting a large presentation board with a sage green background and pictures from the catalog of some of the pieces I selected plus a few the designer found for me. I was expecting that she'd show me physically this piece of art, that mirror with the French words, my chosen coffee table, etc.

What did I get? Two room layouts on paper, one showing a fireplace in the center of the back wall with the furniture this way, a second with the FP in the corner, the furniture that way.
No drawings, no pictures, no accessories, no window treatment ideas. She hadn't even looked at the back page of her notes where the manager had written down the 90% off stuff. It was news to her that the botanical was quoted to me at 17 dollars. The tag on it said 59. She also asked me if there was a sofa I liked there and I said stylewise yes, comfortwise, no. I liked the one across the street and was ready to buy it, and put accent pieces from this store with it. She told me to get her that information. I reminded her I had given it to her when she was at my house, or could she just go to the computer and look up the other store's website for the dimensions.

Oh, boy, boy. Now what? I am so disaappointed. I feel like I've done 87 percent of the work and she's done 13. There is no contract, mind you, but I do feel obligated to keep going with her plan, even though I feel like she hasn't worked very hard and I don't get the feeling she's going to. Paul said she doesn't have the personality for the job. I mean, not that everyone is Candice Olson, but this woman didn't even call me by name, misspelled our last name on her blueprint, and really didn't smile the whole time. I need wisdom, and patience, and a new perpective. What I expected and what I got were miles apart.

What would YOU do?


Laurie Lynn said...

First I’d fume and kick and scream (figuratively…mostly) and maybe even cry (these days, I’d cry for sure, but not until I got home or at least to the car!) with disappointment and unmet expectations. Grrrr.

After reading your post with me, Mike said in a very matter-of-fact way, the way men do,
“From her list and expectations and knowing what she likes and wants she has the ability to just assemble/design the room herself.”
(Mike just finished a remodel where he did the carpentry work and the customers were working with an interior designer. Long story short is, he wondered why the customers even hired her.)
I’m so sorry for the disappointment. It sounded like a go, but having experienced similar situations, I’m not surprised at the ineptness of that employee. I’m with Mike. You can do it! You must believe that you can decorate your room ZZ style! (Of course with hubby’s desire, taste and spending comfort in mind.)If you had a schedule, that may need to change a bit, but trust your design/style and customize the room for your family. You’ve done most of the dream/design work. Now comes the “putting it together” fun part. If you can buy some things at a good price at the furniture store that flopped, go ahead and do so if you’re not ‘done” with them. Putting it together may mean pulling from several stores and is more effort, but may be more fun than a failing designer! You are NOT obligated to go with her plan! Believe me, when Mike draws a house plan for a prospective customer (and spends many hours in designing, drawing, price gathering etc.) the prosective customers are not obligated in any way to have Mike build their home. They may even take plans he has drawn to another builder!
This example isn't "apples to apples", but you really aren't obligated. You're free to move on and use her ideas, (I'm very serious) or you're free to forget the craziness and get yourself heard by the designer and work with that store. I'd say you're free to do what suits you, what really suits you! Whew! I think that was even more than 2 1/2 cents!

Vikki said...

I think I would go to the manager and explain my disappointment. Either he needs to stop overing selling or find out why his designer isn't living up to what he is selling.
After that, I'd sit down with hubs and all the info you gathered yourself and decide if you can do the room yourself or if you need someone to help you put it all together. I can pick out great stuff, I can match up all the things I like, but to save my life I can't put it together for that polished look, so I know I'd need a little help.
Maybe this woman didn't have time to do all she needed after her vacation and will be professional and on top of her game at your next meeting.
Good luck!!

zo said...

Laurie and Vikki (welcome, Vikki!)--the two of you sort of encapsulated my thoughts as I pondered them last night and this morning. Summed up:

1. The manager oversold the idea of what the designer usually does. The designer said to me (last night, when I told her as graciously as I could that what I was expecting was different) S that she does a "before and after" board afterward, but not a mock-up like on the tv shows.

2. I can think of the elements I want, but I know myself: I think in smalls (give me a small bathroom to decorate, I'm fine; give me a family room, it lacks that "pulled together" look. Give me a scrapbook page to design, I can do it, but give me a bulletin board, and watch it flop ).

3. I hate to measure. Hate it, hate it. It's too much like math. I estimate and eyeball just fine, but I am loath to using rulers. I wanted her to do all the measuring, tell me "yes, these 3 pieces will fit but the oval end table you picked from the showroom is three inches too wide and the coffee table four inches too tall" or whatever (for setting drinks down or propping feet up comfortably).

4. The designer and the manager don't communicate well.

5. I assumed designers came with more passion and personality. Engineers, builders, architects, I expect serious, quiet types, but designers? Wow! I have really let the personalities from HGTV dictate my perception (and expectations!) of a designer.

6. I want to go in and buy the 2 recliners, coffee table, botanical print at 17 bucks, and be done with them. Is that okay, really?

Funny the word verification for this comment is "nests." I am getting my nest feathered, but it's not w/o some feathers getting ruffled!

Vikki said...

I would say that was perfectly ok. They are set up to serve your needs as a customer, if their designer didn't match your needs then I don't see any problem not continuing on with her, and apparently she won't mind in the least.
As a retired teacher, I can turn a bulletin board into a master piece with nothing more than construction paper and markers, many times that was all I had...giggle
Good luck with you family room.

Rachel Anne said...

Hmph! No wonder you are upset! Talk about being oversold on a service.

The only thing I would say is, after working with many designers who charge at least 85.00/hr for their design time, at least you are not out any actual money. If you had hired this designer, your "board" could have cost you several hundred you could use toward making some design mistakes on your own ;).

I think you have to realize the role of an onsite designer at a furniture store is to "sell furniture." They won't make any money picking your paint color or drapes, but even at that, she could have used the opportunity to "sell" you the lamps and accessories.

I have always wanted to hire a real designer because a good one is money well spent. They can find you some good deals and give you a pulled together look. Of all the designers I've worked with as an artist, however, there are only a couple whose style I really liked...many tend to overdecorate and match everything. Blech.

Back to the "what would you do?" I would complain to the manager about overselling their service, and feel absolutely no obligation to purchase anything from them. Maybe you should post photos of the things you're looking at and get "design" opinions from the Company Girls?? We can't measure for you, but we can offer our 2 cents!!

Sorry to be long winded. Let me know what you do!!

zoanna said...

Thanks, Rachel. I would have been furious had she charged me for the time it took her to come up with 2 computerized layouts and nothing more. Aagh! The more I think about it, the angrier I'm getting. I mean, you can go on the website and design your own thing--if you want to--but I hate doing computer layouts. Besides, she mismeasured. If I get up the couraged to post a picture, I will. Let the Company Girls help me out. Good idea.