Frequently Asked Questions

Answered by Absolute Living Today's Owner: Teresa Tocco-Davenport

1. What is your interior decorating style?

I don't define my work by a specialized style. My work is defined by the style my client wants to create. If they don't know their style, then it is my responsibility to determine it. I do that by asking questions, taking their answers and summing up what style they really want then creating it for them. So, I don't have one particular style, I create all types of styles, my goal is to create the perfect haven that exudes my clients personality combined with beauty and comfortability.
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2. How long does it take for furniture to be delivered?

It depends on where you purchase it from. Some companies can have it in 3 days, 4-6 weeks and others 16 weeks. Most clients have a tendency to purchase furniture that will take 4 to 16 weeks to deliver. You can get lucky with the 3 day delivery, but you will be limited in fabric choices since the items are usually stock items and not special orders.
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3. How long does it take to get drapery manufactured?

It really depends on the company you use. Some workrooms can have it done in two weeks, some four weeks, others six to eight weeks. It also depends on how soon the fabric is received by the workroom. If the fabric is backordered it will delay production for days or weeks.
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4. Is there something I should do before I meet with you?

Yes. Take the time to review some magazines to help you understand what you really like. Follow your heart, what are you being drawn to? This helps you clarify the style you want to portray. You might think you're one style, but find out you are actually something completely different. People's taste changes through the years. If you haven't shopped in a while you may discover a whole new world of possibilities different from what you have lived with for many years.
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5. What's the trend today in color?

This is not an easy question to answer, because in the past, colors use to change every 7-10 year. Now there are new colors every year and even every six months. I always tell my clients, that unless they are planning on moving in 5 years, they don't need to worry about the trends. Go with your heart and what makes you feel good. Certain styles dictate colors, so whatever style you are determined to be will guide you to the right decision. Some styles offer an array of colors, some are limited.
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6. Do you offer Eco-Friendly products?

Yes. I am a big advocate of "green" products. I'm a Distributor of Natural Woven Shades, which are made from bamboos, natural woods and grasses. I also sell some fabrics and wallpaper that are classified as "green" products. Check out the TV show I did for the Philadelphia Home Show. Click here
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7. Do you get paid by the hour, by markups or flat fees?

This is also a great question. Most decorators charge a flat fee with mark-ups, or by the hour and a mark-up from wholesale on the furnishings. This allows us to purchase some items wholesale and then share the discount with the client, so the client saves money and the decorator makes money. The two approaches are usually the ones that most clients prefer. Please read question #17 for an added explanation.
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8. How long does it take to complete one room?

This is a difficult question to answer without knowing all that is involved (condition of the room, what is needed in repairs, etc.). If you are looking for just a furniture plan, lighting, window treatments and accessories, maybe some flooring and paint, then the average time to complete one room is 18 hours, give or take an hour. If you need the decorator to meet with painters and flooring individuals then you may need to adjust the time involved. The hours quoted are based only on the time spent researching and shopping for the materials to complete the room and are just an estimate, each project is different.
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9. Do you meet in the evenings and weekends?

On some exceptions, I can schedule meetings outside normal business hours because I have family obligations as I am sure you do as well. The latest appointment I make on weeknights is 7pm. My Saturday hours are 10am to 2pm.

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10. Are your fees negotiable?

No, though we can modify your scope of work or phase projects to reduce costs. We know our cost of doing business, and for us to give you the best possible service, we include a reasonable profit in our fees. In order for us to provide the best possible client experience, we must run a profitable business.

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11. How do I start?

There are three things that apply: 1) careful planning – really determine what areas need attention 2) patience – don't expect to have everything done at once, whether it takes a day, week, months or years, go at a steady pace so the project is done correctly and 3) realistic budget – be realistic in what you really need to have done, get estimates and start by doing as little or as much as you can.
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12. How do I identify my priorities?

There are 8 questions to ask yourself.

    1. What must you really have and what can really wait?
    2. Be honest with yourself on just how much you want to do and can afford to do.
    3. Maybe you just need to change the color of the walls.
    4. Or maybe you need new furniture
    5. Determine beforehand if there are any structural renovations needed. Do this before starting so there aren't any challenges later.
    6. Ask yourself, if it is an easy project, what would be the most effective change needed?
    7. Identify the dollar investment you are willing to spend.
    8. Ask yourself if the project can be spread out over a period of years.
These questions will sort through the extent of the project and determine if you are ready to proceed.
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13. I guess I should identify if repair or replacement is needed first, right?

Go through your home, room by room and be completely honest with the physical state of the walls, woodwork, ceilings, windows, doors, electrical, etc. List everything that needs to be repaired or replaced. Determine what you can do yourself and what will require a professional. Get estimates.
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14. Is it true that if I need structural repairs I need to make sure I get a total amount and then add 3 to 6 percent of the total to the total to cover any unexpected that can come up?

Yes, unexpecteds always come up, no matter how careful you may have been. This helps you from getting caught running short. You never know what you are going to find behind walls.
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15. I have a limited amount of money to spend, how do I decide what room I should invest in quality furniture?

Decide how strong you want the furniture to be, think about how hard the room gets used. If it is a room that will be used for kids, pets and entertaining, then invest in good quality furniture, so it will last a long time. If the room doesn't get used often then the quality of the furniture doesn't need to be as strong.
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16. How much will it cost to redecorate?

Prepare a spreadsheet identifying the projects. What would you like to accomplish in each room? There are 3 levels to identify for each room: Level 1) does it need inexpensive cosmetic changes like painting, new wall covering, window treatments; Level 2) Do I need to purchase new furniture? How do I use the room?; Level 3) Does this room need major structural changes? Now identify which are the most immediate projects or purchases then research costs.
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17. Can we purchase our own products?

It depends on the package you ultimately decide on. We have a Full Service Package (Value Based Flat Fee); a Personal Shopping Package (Value Based Flat Fee) and an Hourly Contract. The former involves me doing everything for you, which benefits you, because I can share my discounts with you on specific items from my vendor relationships. The Personal Shopping Package allows both of us to be involved in the purchasing aspect because you may want to be involved in the process, with me to doing a portion so I can share discounts. If you do an Hourly contract then you can do all your own purchasing, but not get the benefits of discounts I can offer you. The hourly contract benefits the client by decreasing the number of hours the decorator spends on purchasing products, but does not benefit from my discounts. (Window treatment contracts, I will do all the purchasing regardless of the type of package you select. This eliminates any problems with the workroom.)

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18. Define Purchase Order Management and Project Managment.

There are many steps involved in the process of ordering merchandise and materials and managing a project. The following illustrates what a Interior Decorator does if responsible for the project mgmt and purchasing aspect of a project. The process involves; price requests; proposals; purchase orders; cutting checks; depositing checks; ordering cuttings for approval if needed; approving cuttings; reviewing acknowledgements; expediting; coordinating inspection with the receiver; inspecting goods; paying vendor invoices; paying freight bills; paying crating bills; paying delivery bills; paying installation bills; resolving damage issues; coordinating deliveries; meeting deliveries; coordinating installations; meeting installers; resolving problems. Keep in mind there are risks, time and costs of doing your own purchasing so hiring someone to handle the process is a benefit in the long run.

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19. How can an interior decorator help me?

Before dismissing the idea of hiring a professional for fear the fee will increase your budget, keep in mind the smartest purchase is knowledge. Utilizing an interior decorator could help you decide where best to spend your limited resources and can keep you from making costly mistakes that you will have to live with for a long time. The hardest part of decorating is coordinating colors, patterns, scale and proportion of fabric patterns and size of furniture, textures, etc. Decorators provide space planning by preparing furniture plans to 1/4" scale ensuring that all furniture will fit properly in the room so it is functional. Keep in mind decorators can free up your time by meeting with the contractors, so you don't have to miss work.
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Contact us to get started or call 856-294-9173 to schedule your Idea Session.