Media Talk: My Interview on Martha Stewart Living Radio

As I wrote previously, I was asked to be a guest on the Living Today program on Martha Stewart Living Radio on the Sirius Satellite Network. I was on last Monday, January 14th, and spoke with host Kerry Nolan about how one goes about a successful redecoration or renovation plan – from dream to reality.

I wanted to share with you my bullet points from the interview:


• Think about your wants and needs.
• Look at magazines and online sources from retail websites to design blogs and pull out or print images that are appealing and create your own “Look Book” of the style, feel, color palettes, fabric. This can be as organized as a notebook with plastic sleeves and dividers, or just a bunch of images in a file folder.
• Make notations on the images of exactly what appealed. I’ve often had clients show me their look books – but then can’t remember what about a photo they liked.
• Conversely, take note of what you don’t like. This can greatly speed up the process when it comes time to work with others on the project.
• Being clear about you like and what you don’t like is the foundation of a successful plan.
• Research can broaden your scope of what’s available. I’ve had clients state very strongly a dislike- such as flowers. I’ve been told – absolutely no flowers. But, they may have really meant 1980’s Laura Ashley type cabbage patch roses and not a more modern tropical or stylized botanical print. This is why taking the time to look at various images is so important.
• Share your ideas and thoughts with your spouse/significant other. Make sure you’re on the same page before you bring in third parties. The last thing we want to hear in a meeting is one person saying saying “this is what we want” and the other looking surprised and saying “really?”

• Research costs and plan your budget.
• If you haven’t done a redecoration or renovation project in a long time, or in your geographic location, it’s wise to check out what things cost.
• From labor to materials – you can get a quick idea of pricing by making a few phone calls to local service providers and checking online at retail stores.
• If you’re doing a kitchen, visit some kitchen showrooms – from big box stores to smaller private dealers and simply chat about your plans and ask for rough ideas of price. Nothing is hard and fast at this point, but it will help keep the shock value of the final price in check. You’re looking to establish ranges at this point.
• Once you are in the ballpark for your plans, seriously question if you can afford it. Be honest with yourself. If what you expected to pay doesn’t match reality – then revisit your design plans and focus on needs. You can pick and choose what you do now versus later.
• Start pulling together referrals for contractors/designers. Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to this vetting process. From making calls from the yellow pages or an internet search, to asking everyone you know whom they’ve used. Mostly, listen to your gut. You will be working very closely with this person for upwards of several months and you want an open, honest, two-way communications.
• At this stage, any reputable service provider will be happy to discuss – either on phone or in person – your project and give you a rough idea of pricing. Be honest about your time frame and be willing to share your budget range. We can’t help you without knowing all the important information.
• With all this information pulled together, you will be able to accurately assess whether you are being realistic with your budget and plans. If one is out of balance – then it needs to be reworked. More often, it’s a give and take between the two.


• Having done your homework in steps 1 and 2 will help put you in the drivers seat when it comes to bringing in the professionals.
• If you have a clear and realistic vision of what you want, then you can better share that with your professional team and you will ultimately get more of what you wanted and spend less doing it. Time spent in the front end saves time on the back end. And when paying third party professionals: time = money.
• Never be embarrassed about sharing your budget. A reputable service provider will work with you and help you figure out how to get the most from your money and they will be honest with you if they feel that you cannot do your project based on your estimated budget. They really are not looking to make you spend more. But sometimes, spending more is the best choice – better materials that will last longer.
• Clear and honest communication is key.
• Be willing to say: I like this, I don’t like that; I want this, I don’t want that.
• Admit when you don’t know something.
• Ask for advice, but don’t pit one member of your contracting team against another. Always vet your decisions with your lead team member, whether it be your designer or general contractor.
• Respect their expertise and they will respect your wises.
• Patience. Be patient when making decisions. I’ve seen more bad choices made due to lack of patience or focus in the process.
• Don’t let someone rush you, but do respect the work process and understand that a delay on your end can result in project delays, loss of materials and higher costs.

So that’s it! I’m sorry I can an actual transcript or audio of the interview – as it was a really good one with Kerry Nolan. But, I hope you will find these tips to be helpful!

xoxo Linda