Thursday, September 29, 2016

My experience with hiring a designer to decorate my family room



We have all seen HGTV shows where the person gets design service in exchange for being on the show.  What I love about these shows is that when the people hire a designer, they weren't just taken to a furniture showroom and had furniture picked out.  They had a room that was individual and did not look like a furniture showroom floor.  I liked that the HGTV designers think out of the box and sometimes make pieces for the rooms.  The designs included accessories and wall art and everything seemed to blend together to make a great room.  I guess I was naive but I thought this was what designers did.  In the state I live in, not just anyone can call themselves a designer.  A lot of states have this law, if not all of them.  A designer has to have a certain education and pass a certain exam to call themselves a designer.  I felt like knowing this would make finding one easier.

We moved into a new house, and my furniture just was not working. I have a weird shaped family room.  It is not square, but has weird areas that I just could not decide how to fill.  There is also the problem of the heating vent for the room being dead center of one of the straight walls.  We tried putting a sofa there, but the sofa was warm and the room was cold.  The room is large, but I needed seating for six and I just couldn't make it work.

I decided to find a designer and looked around and found a local one.  When I looked at her pictures online, I noticed that while they were traditional, they were a little out dated.  She seemed to like design styles that were popular five years ago, but I figured she had not changed her pictures.   I was so afraid of getting someone that wanted ultra modern in my room that I decided to go with her.  I called her and she said she had a $99 consultation fee.  She said that for that price, she would draw up a design and come meet with me.

During her consultation, I said there were some things we did not want.  First, we feel flowers are out of date and my husband does not want flowers on a sofa or chair.  Secondly, he did not want the tv mounted over the fireplace.  He felt that tearing up the wall to put wiring in was silly and any time he would want to change out his systems, he would need to break open the wall again.  He likes to change out his systems, so I stressed that we did not want the tv mounted over the fireplace.

I paid her the fee and she came to my house and looked at the room and measured it. She said in a few days she would email me a computer generated photo of the room.

A few days later, I was shocked to find out that I was billed $750!  This person went to five stores and "shopped" for me taking photos of sofas.  She also kept insisting that I tell her which store I purchase things at so that she can get her commission from them.

I have driven this route many times and there is no way on earth I can make visiting those stores last five hours.  That was one hour per store and the stores are located within a mile of each other.  I then opened her computer program and was again disappointed.

It gave me a basic layout and nothing more.  Her email said that if I wanted accessory placement and help buying wall art, I would need to call her back and pay her more.  The tv was mounted on the wall and there was a note that I would have to hire someone to mount the tv, it was not included in her service.  There was no place in the room to put the tv the way she had it laid out.  My husband called her and said he did not want the tv mounted, he wanted a new design, but she said he would have to pay for a redo, which made him angry.  He was blunt with her and said he felt she was overcharging us and he asked what other hidden fees she had.  She informed him that there is a $50 fee for any time she needs to stop by my house and check on my progress.  She said "my" progress.  She had no intention of doing anything but stopping buy and collecting money from me while I hired people to do the work she suggested.  I thought he was going to blow.  He told her she was not to come to our house for anything, that we were done paying her.

 She also sent me an email saying she found the perfect chairs for us...used. They were "only" $1200 for two of them and they were covered in flowers.  When I turned her down, she called me immediately trying to talk me into buying her friend's used furniture.  I felt she was being pushy and I even asked her if she was going to charge me for the phone call before I hung up on her.  I did not want those chairs and she would not listen to me.

The thing that made me the angriest was yet to come.   This designer was pushing for me to go to a local high end store to buy almost everything.  I really didn't want to spend that kind of money on the family room, but I decided to give them a visit.  When I walked in, I was greeted by a salesperson who offered me a "free room layout".
I explained that I had been working with a designer and she asked her name so she could "get her commission".  I am not exactly sure why that offended me so much.  I guess paying someone $100 an hour to pretend shop for me made me feel like she was already paid plenty.   It turns out that at this store, I could have gotten exactly what I paid this woman $750 for...but it was free.  She explained that they offer the service so that you buy their furniture, but that you are not required to buy anything.  So I could have gotten my room layout for free and not paid someone to "shop" for me.

I was pretty offended.  This designer charged me $750 for the same thing that the furniture store she wanted me to shop at would give me for free....and they weren't pushing someone's used, overpriced furniture on me.

In the end, I went with the furniture store's layout, not the designer's and I bought everything except the rug at that furniture store.  I refused to give them the designer's name and the designer called me four times asking where I purchased my furniture until I finally gave in and told her.  I wanted her out of my life and while I did not feel she should get a commission for a layout I did not use, I wanted her to stop calling me.

I thought that hiring a designer would give me a personalized room with some handmade touches or found objects to make the room unique.  What I got was a deceptive designer who shopped for me and probably 3 other people at the same time.  I was not even given the chance to go with her.  When I mentioned this to her, she said that her customers couldn't go with her because she shops for more than one at a time.  So she bills out $100 an hour for shopping to many people???

I was so disappointed that I have not hired anyone else to design a room for me.  I do know that things on tv aren't like they are in real life.  I recall watching a show where three doctors ambulated a patient.  I laughed because that would never happen in real life.  I guess I was naive to think that hiring a designer would be like it was on tv.  I wanted a room personalized to me and my family and this designer wanted to sell her friend's used furniture to me at sky high prices and sell me furniture where she could make an extra buck whether that furniture fit my lifestyle or not.   I wish I could say it worked out, but I may as well have thrown that money into the ocean.

I learned that when a designer says for $99 I will meet with you and draw up a plan, I need to ask what else she plans to do and how much it will cost me.  I will flat out say, "So I am agreeing to pay you to come to my house for $99 but I am not agreeing to pay you for anything else unless you speak to me first".   What a racket.  What other job can you bill out three clients at the same time..or even more, and call it "shopping".  

Good Luck and I hope you find a designer that works for you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Healthy Chinese Chicken Breast

Healthy Chinese Chicken.  We are always looking for ways to cook chicken breasts at our house.  This recipe is easy and you can make the sauce, put the chicken in your ziploc bag then freeze it so that you need only defrost it when you are ready to prepare it.






1/4 cup hoisin sauce,  plus 2 T. for basting
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
1/2 t. pepper
1 lb chicken breast


Combine all ingredients into a ziplock bag and marinate for a few minutes in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with parchment and place chicken on top of paper and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until done.  Baste your chicken with your hoisin sauce.   Turn broiler on and carefully broil to crisp skin.  Serve with rice.



See my other Recipes here:  http://emmafrancisisathome.blogspot.com/p/recipe-index.html


Monday, September 5, 2016

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Let's face it, store bought spaghetti sauce is loaded with sugar.  I have read articles that claim that a jar of sauce can contain as many as 17 teaspoons of sugar.  I would rather have dessert with sugar, not spaghetti sauce with sugar, so I make my own.  It's easy.  This recipe takes a few minutes of prep time, or if you have leftover hamburger, you can just add that in.





Chop onions and mince garlic.  We like our onions a little on the chunky side, but feel free to cut yours smaller.  Brown ground beef and onion in a skillet on medium heat.  Add garlic when ground beef looks nearly cooked.  Drain.



In a crockpot add 1 can of tomato sauce, one small can tomato paste and one can chopped tomatoes.



 Add spices and meat mixture.
stir to combine
Cook on low for six hours, or on high for 2 hours.  The longer it cooks the better it taste, so you can cook it on low for up to 10 hours.





1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp italian seasoning mix
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 large can tomato sauce (16 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes (8oz)
1 small can tomato paste



When I received the original recipe, it called for 1 tsp cumin, but we don't care for that much cumin, if you like it, add the tsp,but if your kids don't like the flavor, you can omit it all together.

I used tomato paste with basil and oregano, but you can use plain.


Check here for my other recipes:  http://emmafrancisisathome.blogspot.com/p/recipe-index.html