Patience a must-have in this wait-wait-wait business

By Carleton Varney

Special to the Daily News

It is summertime, when the living is easy provided you let it be easy. And decorating is easy, too if you just let yourself enjoy it. After all, the fun is actually in the doing. That said, patience is a welcome virtue whenever you embark on a professional decorating project.

I’m talking here about custom interior design, not off-the-floor purchases and delivery. If you are inclined to decorate — and enjoy decorating — be advised that you’ll often be playing a waiting game. There will be waits for fabric, waits for wall covering, waits for furniture.

But even after the wait, when the fabric has been shipped to the upholsterer and the chairs have been built and covered, you still must hope the chairs will arrive in the condition they were in when they left the warehouse. Transporting anything today is risky business. Take it from designers, who know.

Consider, for example, a pair of chairs shipped from Michigan to Florida that arrived with torn fabric from being tossed about on a transport truck. The fabric could be replaced, the upholstery work redone, but who would pay the bill for that?

Collecting for insured merchandise damaged in shipping is not easy, and oh, how time-consuming the process is, if you ever do collect. Most of the time, so much office time is involved in the checking and collecting that I usually throw in the towel and just pay for the reupholstering myself. I surely would never send the chairs back to the factory. Who knows what further damage would occur on the reshipment back and forth.

For my projects that require long-distance shipping, say from one coast to another, I contract one company whenever possible that can blanket-wrap and ship the items to their destination. Rarely today do we use common carriers where furnishings are moved from one depot to another.

So, be wary, home decorators. Be prepared for the waiting game when ordering, and please don’t blame your interior designer for the delays. The designer is the specifier, not the manufacturer or the delivery team.

The interior designer can encounter many woes on the way to creating a finished project. I often think that drapery and valance design — window treatments — is a special design category all its own. Many decorators are unaware, or don’t care to learn, about fabric widths, pattern repeats and “drop” repeats, or how to calculate proper yardages. And believe it or not, there’s many a drapery-workroom supervisor or measurer who does not calculate yardages properly.

Fashioning handsome window treatments is an art where success is often a matter of experience. When covering hard valences, for instance, I rarely, if ever, “railroad” the fabric, a term that describes using a single length of fabric to run the width of the piece. Instead, I prefer to match the pattern at the widths of the drapery materials.

Also, I am always aware of the proper fullness for my curtains. I like at least 250 percent fullness to give the window curtains that ample and delicious look. Skimpy drapery panels can destroy an otherwise beautifully decorated room.

I always admire the interiors of designer Scott Snyder, who does beautiful rooms in many ways and who always has lovely window treatments on his projects.

When decorating with a creative designer, be aware that there are no shortcuts to making a room or a home beautiful. Remember, all the details take time and require decisions, sometimes hard ones. A painting is not complete, for instance, without the right mat and frame and the proper means to hang it, be it hung by chain, wire, ribbon or rope. And the lampshade that is right for the lamp base and for the room may not come on the lamp when it is purchased. Most likely, it will not.

The role of creating an interior seldom happens immediately after the room is painted. The continual process of moving into space those harmonious items takes time.

Take heed: That time element will never change. But always remember, as my mentor Dorothy Draper once wrote, “Decorating is fun!”


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