Now that I’m done working on my third room with Darlene from Fieldstone Hill, I thought I’d let y’all know how glad I am I decided to go this route—working with an online designer, and Darlene in particular.
I’m a creative. I oil paint, crochet, and craft and try DIY things all the time. They don’t always turn out how I envision, but the process is (usually) fun. When it comes to pulling a room together in a cohesive and personal way, I’ve learned what I like and don’t like, but sometimes have trouble making the final decision and moving forward with finishing the space. I’m not always confident in what works together. Then it feels like I’ve got a whole house of projects, which can get overwhelming when your “To-Do” list is already full.
My husband and I were grateful to buy a house this spring which we hope to stay in for a very long time (after 4 moves in 19 months it was high time to settle down!). With all our moves, I’d become as much as a minimalist as my husband and two kids would let me, and we’d already pared down furnishings to only the things we truly loved and used. We had some antiques that were passed down from grandparents, and have collected several landscape paintings from Charleston Artists we love. I know I’m inspired by pale aquas and similar shades and wanted those colors to make a big appearance in our new home.
I got on Darlene’s Wait List as soon as we had a contract on our house. I’d followed her fabulous blog and Edie’s house, knowing I’d want her help choosing paint colors before we moved in, as well as design help.
We started with designing the library, which I wanted to be for my husband as his study. He’s a cancer doctor, and my goal was to create a space he can both work and unwind in. Where he can look up from his charting and see beauty that reminds him of heaven, while he’s fighting death every day. So I had our contractor add built-in bookshelves to an unused dining room. The timing worked out perfectly, and Darlene came on board to help me find the perfect lights to wire above the shelves as well as giving my bookshelf design a nod that it did, in fact, look good. Sometimes a vote of confidence is what you need. (She also will design bookcase walls for you, if you want. We just already knew what we wanted.) You can see the “Design Board” at the top of this post–a digital rendering of the colors and textures of the space.
How it works
I started each room with Darlene on Pinterest, filling boards with images that evoke the looks I love for the space. We picked wall colors first. I had time to paint samples on foamboard to move around in the room to be sure I loved it. Then, she started emailing lists of links for different items. I’d open up an email from her to find maybe a dozen options for rugs, or chairs. She’d send a variety of things that would fit, to be sure we found something we all loved. If I didn’t absolutely love anything on the list, she just sent more links until we found something we did! One time, for our Keeping Room, I replied that such-and-such chair was nice and we should go with it. She didn’t settle for “nice” and sent more links until we found the perfect chair. These emails were always SO fun!
We’d discuss theme colors and metals, the feel we wanted each room to have, what the room would be used for, and what sort of things my husband loves (He’s a Gardener at heart and adores citrus trees, so she included prints of oranges and lemons on our design board). I felt like I was getting lessons in Interior Design as we worked together; in addition to the room design itself!
For the library, I was looking for a dark masculine wall color, and wanted to use the large desk my husband already loves and a favorite Charleston print. Darlene recommended we have the shelves to match the desk, and that print guided our color choices.
After we settled on the main pieces for the room, Darlene finished tweaking her design board and then emailed me the Design Packet. This was my favorite part—like Christmas morning in an email. She includes the Design board, sometimes a few versions to show a couple options. All the goodies we chose together filled the board. There were also surprise items she chose to compliment the space and add finishing details. To see how all the colors and textures and metal and leather would work together by looking at the board is a “Wow” moment. She also includes lengthy spreadsheets that detail each item in the room and usually ways to find less expensive options, as well as DIY options when appropriate. But she won’t hesitate to be honest if something I was considering would look cheap, which I really appreciated! She also include a detailed floorplan, with instructions on where to hang what on the wall, how to hang the curtains, everything. In the instructions that accompany the design, she encourages you to edit the plan to your liking.
How Did this Save Money?
Have you ever bought something for your house and put it in a room only to find it doesn’t work at all? This is even worse with an expensive piece of furniture. It’s priceless to go through a space with someone experienced in home design and let her help figure out a more intentional plan of how to use what you have and what you need to shop for. Her design board makes all the difference.
Also, some designers in real life are paid based on how much you spend on the room. They get a percentage of the package, or work on a high hourly rate. While they may get you some discounts at certain furniture stores, for instance, they might also be motivated to push you to spend more than you want, since their pay it tied to that.
Darlene charges a flat fee per space. Considering the time that I know she invests in each room, and the way she treats each family and project in such a holistic and personal way, I think she should charge more! While she appreciates quality furnishings, and will help in selecting things that will stand the test of time (and toddlers), she is also very aware of the tension we should live in as Christians in a needy world, and keeps that in mind as we settle on budget plans. I also love it that she homeschools her two boys.
I’ll keep y’all posted on the progress as we continue to plan and decorate several more rooms with Darlene’s help. I’d totally recommend going this route and working with Darlene. Later this week I’ll post a sneak peek of our (almost) complete library.