Friday, August 4, 2017

The Story of an Evolving Customer (Part I)

Hello! Long time no write. The official word on the street is that we are now residents of Indiana and loving it. We have own our house, we have an attached garage, our house is not almost 150 years old, and we have a fenced in backyard. Paradise when we're wearing bug spray.

The kids spend a lot of time in the front room, this weird, small room between the foyer and kitchen. It was a formal dining room but we use it as a tv/playroom. It's currently overfilled with a sofa, love seat, the tv + side table, and too many toys. It has a huge chandelier which we adults keep bonking our heads on and Will is trying to dismantle it himself. The room is painted tan with a deep red accent wall (same as the kitchen, which has two red accent walls). My main complaint: I really dislike the paint - probably excessively so because my house growing up had so many tan walls. Also, our last rental house had a red dining room. I'm just over those colors! They feel very mediterranean, which is not my style.

Enter Laurel & Wolf, an online interior design company. Firstly, though- this is not an ad. I was not paid by them; I actually paid money to them, ha. It's a one time fee - I had a 40% off coupon (check their FB page, they happen relatively often), so it was about $120 for classic. (Normal is $150.) For a "light" update, it's only $59/room. Or you can go as high as $250-$350. I preferred this style of payment to other online services I found, some which cost per item in the room. (Yikes! That adds up fast for a whole room look.)

Here's what happened: I gave them a lot of information - my style, why I need the redesign, the layout and measurements of my room, my budget and details around my budget, any additional details and furniture we want to keep.

For us, we* want to keep zero percent of our current furniture in that room. Those couches have moved to four different states with us and it is time to retire them. Most of our furniture is consignment, and their double life is really experienced the wear and tear.

(*We is the royal "we" - Will had zero say during this actual process, but I have consulted with him on numerous points, so I know his opinions generally on decorating.)

For the classic package, I had ten days to go back and forth with my interior designer. She sent me an initial concept board and layout, and then we went back and forth for days and days. My designer got back to me in under 24 hours, if not faster. She was easy to work with, respected my budget, and always worked with my needs/wants.

The room is weird. One side has double doors leading to the foyer. The next wall (outside) has two large windows which break up the wall unevenly vs. being in the middle (mixed feelings on this). The third wall is solid. The fourth side is a nine foot kitchen peninsula with cabinets.

So, here is what I requested - a cozy, calming room plus
1. Paint color
2. Sectional sofa
3. Side tables
4. Media counsel
5. New lighting
6. Window treatments

I wrote: "So, this is the front room of the house (formerly a dining room) and sightline from the kitchen. I'd like this to be the TV room, as well as a place where the kids can play and read. I'd like a sectional with a chaise and/or deep seating; we have three kids (4, 2.5, 1 yo). I'd like cordless window treatments for the large windows. We have built-ins already, and the kids keep their books there. I think we will need a small media center for the x-box. Nothing glass (table, etc.) or with sharp corners for the kids' safety."

Budget: $3-5k.


After seeing the first design, I decided that the sectional took up a weird space and it would be better to do a sofa + two chairs. I also thought the side tables were too trendy for me. I wanted more texture with the curtains. I didn't like the media table. My designer gave me three different choices for the two tables, and I picked the ones I liked best.


The final designs looked like this (not complete screen shots):

Here is the list of items suggested:

1. MONTCLAIR 3-SEAT SOFA // Sold by Crate & Barrel // $1,799.00

2. OLSON ARMCHAIR // Sold by Wayfair // $226.99

3. REDDING STORAGE COFFEE TABLE // Sold by Wayfair // $489.99

4. BARTLETT RECLAIMED WOOD METAL SIDE TABLE // Sold by Pottery Barn // $299.00

5. WYATT 60" MEDIA CONSOLE // Sold by Crate & Barrel // $899.00

6. BURTON 5-LIGHT DRUM CHANDELIER // Sold by Wayfair // $194.22

7. ROMANZA 60.23" TRIPOD FLOOR LAMP // Sold by Wayfair // $99.29

8. SUZANI EMBROIDERED PILLOW COVER // Sold by Pottery Barn // $79.50

9. FEATHER PILLOW INSERT // Sold by Pottery Barn // $29.00

10. BELGIAN LINEN CURTAIN, WHITE, 48"X84" // Sold by West Elm // $99.00



A few days after we stopped communicating, I decided to do the first step and look into paint colors. My designer gave me a wall color (Sterling), so I went to the local Benjamin Moore store to find it. Well, they were having a sale on sample sizes, so I bought four different shades of light gray to try on my walls. I like that because I have a starting point, but I can ultimately decide what I like best: Sterling, Grey Owl, Wickham Gray and Stonington Gray.

I am set on purchasing most of what she picked out, sort of (see below). I am going to call some of the companies to see if I can get a coupon for free shipping, etc. through the original site/ company (instead of through L&W) because I heard on the Young House Love Has A Podcast that if you are ordering things online, always always always call the company to see if you can get free shipping or a discount code. Most companies will oblige, especially with bigger orders! So, not necessarily buying all through L&W right now. But I have through September 4 too to finish my order.

Will and I are debating putting a ceiling fan in the room instead of a pretty drum shade light. The front room needs more air movement, so I suspect practicality will win out. If anyone has attractive ceiling fan options, please let me know.

I've decided I really prefer a swivel arm chair in the room instead of a regular arm chair, so I am hunting for a viable alternative to what my designer picked out. Not her fault - I was going down memory lane and how much I loved the two swivel chairs we had growing up.


Okay, more changes:

1. Paint color - still undecided. We're going to live with the samples for a few weeks in various locations.

2. Couch + two side chairs - I am ordering the couch she picked out, but I am changing it from the three cushion couch to the two cushion couch. I saw it on Crate and Barrel's website while I was perusing. (A dangerous activity... I found more pieces I love which are not in the budget!) It costs $100 less (not major, but it helps) and I love the look better. I found two swivel chairs I love at Wayfair and All Modern - prices are very different, and both cost more than the original arm chairs.

3. Side tables - on Joss and Main, I found a similar looking three table set which costs less than $200. The current budget has the side tables at $299 and coffee table (rattan storage chest) was $490. If I do with the set, that is savings of $890, which I can put towards the swivel chairs. I lose the storage chest, but I gain a round table (no corners) and a more flat place to play or put my coffee mug. I still love the storage chest (or the similar storage chest I found at Crate and Barrel), so we may purchase it later *if* we need it for the kids' toys.

4. Media counsel - staying the same.

5. New lighting - definitely getting the lamp, probably going to get a ceiling fan and light now. I'm kind of bummed but I would love the airflow.

6. Window treatments - still getting the curtains, etc.! Eventually I want to take down the shades and replace all with cordless options. I'll need to find a company to do it because of the window sizes.


I am guessing what you are thinking - Julie! Is Laurel and Wolf worth it? You just changed half your designer's plans! A big YES! I love interior design, and I don't feel like I need someone else to tell me how to design my home... but I struggle with the final decision making process. There are a few things I would never have picked out, but I love them (e.g. the media cabinet). I won't use L&W for every room in my house, but this room needed a boost and I am so glad for the help. I will definitely use them again at some point, maybe for the guest room or our master bedroom.

If you click on this link, you get $25 off your first plan, and I get a kickback too. Look for 40 percent off codes too.

One last thing - I did not ask for help with artwork because we have a lot of that, and I have a good eye for art. But if you want help, they offer that as well!

Stay tuned for more pictures and Part II.