Your home in 2017: Is it time to call a design professional?

Wrenda Goodwyn • special to the Fort Myers News-Press •January 7, 2017

It’s a new year and if you are like most of us, you’re getting your home back in shape after the holiday decorations come down and the guests leave.  Maybe you’ve done a little reorganizing. Some decluttering. Deep cleaning. And now you are thinking about some refreshing your décor for the winter season.

Or perhaps you have a project or two that you have been putting off for a while. Maybe you want to update a bathroom. Create a beautiful bedroom.  Redo a kitchen for entertaining.  Replace old carpet with wood or tile.  Change paint colors or go all neutrals with pops of color. Create conversation areas in large open living areas. Blend old furnishings with new to fit your lifestyle. Update your lighting.  Add new accessories.

Bring drama into your décor with Cole & Son’s Mariinsky damask historical wallcovering design that celebrates the look of theatre, opera and ballet. Shown: Petrouchka.  Available at Kravet to-the-trade showroom, Naples. Photo: courtesy of Kravet.

As a Southwest Florida interior decorator, I receive lots of calls from homeowners who want to make a change and aren’t sure where to start. Many have never worked with an interior decorator or designer and may be a little nervous. And some have tried it on their own and have found that the reality home shows are anything but reality and have mislead them regarding costs and the effort required. Let’s face it: it’s just not that easy. No matter what the show hosts tell you!

Diane Torrisi of Diane Torrisi Designs, a residential designer in Naples, also presents seminars throughout Southwest Florida that educate homeowners on how to work with a professional.

A trained professional will help you create a plan and collaborate with you on how you want your home to look. Shown: Cole & Son’s Mariinsky damask Fonteyn, named after the Royal Ballet’s prima ballerina. The two-toned design gives a soft, matt appearance. Available at Kravet to-the-trade showroom, Naples. Photo: courtesy of Kravet.

“Ideally the perfect time to call a designer would be the moment you decide to build, remodel or buy.  I would suggest that you listen to your inner voice, that gut feeling, the time when you feel overwhelmed with choices, showrooms to visit and decisions to make.  Check websites, talk to your friends, contact a few designers and see if you click. Your designer will be part of your world for a substantial amount of time and you will hopefully forge a rewarding relationship.” 

Irene Farano of Irene J. Farano, LLC, a residential interior designer based in Cape Coral, says that it’s important to call an interior designer in the beginning stages of a project. 

“It’s necessary to get to know each other and build a strong, trusting, honest and enjoyable designer/client relationship.  This is the first step to creating the dream home or room clients fantasize having and it enables the designer to simplify the process for the client.”

If 2017 is the year that you call in a little professional help to assist you in taking take on a new project or to come up with a plan that you can implement on your own, consider a few tips before you begin.

What can a professional decorator or designer do for you?

Think about it this way: you hire a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, etc to help with your home.  An interior design professional will help you pull it all together and will do the following:

• Look at the big picture and assist you in developing a plan before you make purchases.

• Take the stress out of the process. 

Designers offer resources that are “to the trade” and enhance your personal style, taking it to a whole new level. Shown: Festival Collection from Lee Jofa’s Mulbery Home. Available at Kravet to-the-trade showroom, Naples. Photo: courtesy of Kravet.

• Bring you the best choices and options without allowing you to become overwhelmed.

• Avoid costly mistakes and save $$$$.

• Provide a professional evaluation of what you should keep and what to repurpose.

• Develop a plan according to your budget and timeframe.

• Collaborate WITH you on how you want your home to look.

• Offer resources that are “to the trade” and often save $$$.

• Enhance your personal style and take it to a whole new level.

• Help increase the value of your home.

 Follow these important tips:

• Research. Check out websites, credentials, certifications, training, years in business. 

• Visit Google and Pinterest. Read comments from clients. 

• Do your homework.  Decide what you like. How you want your home to feel. 

• Interior decorating is not free or cheap.  So establish a budget. Before you begin working with a decorator, have an idea of what you want/have to spend. You will get a much better result. 

• Schedule a consultation. You will have a chance to see if your decorator is a good fit. This is important because they will be working in your personal space

• Discuss fees. Be perfectly clear on options. This can be a flat fee. A project fee. An hourly fee. Does the decorator charge a commission on purchases? Do they offer trade discounts?

• Go with your instincts. They are usually right!

Wrenda Goodwyn is a Southwest Florida interior decorator, A.S.I.D. associate and certified gold member of the Interior Redecorators Network. She has helped homeowners throughout Southwest Florida with timeless, affordable ways to create beautiful spaces and to solve decorating problems. Her column appears the first Saturday of each month. For more information visit her website at Call her at 949-1808 or e-mail For more decorating tips, articles and photos, visit