The Decorating Conversation: Where to Start

Jan Bertin of Decorating Den Interiors wants to know what's on your mind regarding your home's storage, functionality and comfort.

Courtesy Jan Bertin

I’m Jan Bertin and welcome to The Decorating Conversation. I decided on that as the title to my column because that’s precisely what I hope to engage in with you: A conversation.

And the subject, your home, has lots of different dimensions: The things that make it special to you and what you’d like to change to make it more beautiful or comfortable or functional. And, yes, even what you absolutely can’t stand about it and has to go now

For some of you, the conversations we’ll be having in this space about issues that matter to you might be your first time talking (albeit indirectly) with a decorator. Over my 25 years working here in Old Town and before that in the New York City suburbs, I’ve learned that we decorators can be seen as intimidating. Or as too expensive or snooty or overly fussy types. I hope to show you that such isn’t the case. 

My philosophy is that you set the tone with your likes, dislikes, needs, sentimental attachments and budgets. My job becomes to lend my experience, my expertise and my guidance to your efforts. Those are some of the elements that make any relationship work and interior decorating is no exception. 

As we decide on the scope and options for your project, the elephant enters the room. What’s all this going to cost? Experience has taught me that this is the biggest obstacle that keeps people from getting in touch with an interior decorator. Experience has also proven that it is the easiest to overcome. 

Yes, we’d all love to have the finest of everything. And no, we all eventually give in to reality. Where I enter the equation is in presenting my clients options that work within a realistic framework. Just as you wouldn’t expect to walk into a dealer showroom with $10,000 and drive out with a Rolls-Royce, you can’t realistically expect Amazon pricing when working with a decorator. But working with a decorator most certainly doesn’t imply you’re going to be paying Rolls-Royce prices. 

Here’s how the balance is struck. We do the legwork of sorting through the thousands of options available to you for fabrics, paint, wallpaper, furnishings, flooring and carpeting, contractors of all descriptions and suppliers of everything from lighting to plumbing. And all of it is done based on the budget we arrived at initially. 

Courtesy Jan Bertin

In the end, all of that legwork, combined with the collective experience and varied but complementary visions my colleagues and I bring to an engagement, begin to describe the principal ways we as full service decorators add value to the effort. 

The project photos you see here brought all of the elements I described into play. Working with – and adding to – customer vision. Working within budgets that make sense. Handling the logistical elements that can derail a project. Providing the hand-holding and psychic support that always are needed at some point in a project. In a nutshell, that’s what we do and I have only begun to describe how we do it. 

Now, let’s get on to the fun part. Please tell me what’s been on your decorating radar. In upcoming pieces, we’ll be dealing with the universal subject of creating more storage spaces for existing rooms; how to make rooms multifunctional spaces, and we’ll give you a look ahead into what you can expect to see next year after I return from the furniture market in North Carolina this fall. 

But that’s just what’s on my mind. I’m more eager to learn what’s on your mind, so please get in touch with me at with your questions and observations and I’ll cover them here. Thanks for reading, and I’ll talk to you soon. 

Courtesy Jan Bertin

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