A Role of Your Interior Designer – A First Line of Defense

I had suggested to a client of mine to recover her dining chair seats in the colors of the living room to create more of a connection between the two rooms.  She liked the idea and she told me to look for a fabric.  I found several fabrics that accomplished exactly what I had suggested.  We were changing the fabric of the dining chairs from white to shades of aqua, blue, ivory, and ochre.  We decided upon a woven fabric with all of the colors.  

Prior to ordering the fabric I requested a sample from the bolt. The weave of the sample looked sloppy.   I called the showroom and asked for another sample off a different bolt.  When that sample arrived, it looked just as bad as the first. I called the client and told her that we would need to reselect the fabric.  I made a second trip to her home and we selected another fabric.  I ordered a fabric sample and when it arrived I was shocked.  I compared the sample to the one in my fabric book.  It looked like a cheap imitation.  Not only was the color “off” but the type of fabric was flimsy compared to my original sample. I asked the showroom if they had another bolt of the fabric in the warehouse and to see if it looked like the sample in my fabric book.  An inspection was made and that fabric was flimsy also.

I called the client and told her that I would need to select a third fabric.  In over twenty years of business I have never run into fabric coming in looking inferior or looking like a cheap imitation.  I called my rep and complained that their quality assurance department was falling down on the job.  My point is that part of the job of the interior designer is being the first line of defense for the client.  Had I not ordered the cutting and rejected it, the client would have ended up with a fabric with an inferior weave on her chairs.  

This same client had ordered a sofa from a furniture store prior to my introduction to her.  In just a few months, she and her husband noticed that the fabric was disintegrating.  I urged them to contact the furniture store immediately.  They talked to the store manager and he did not want to do anything about it. After strong words, the store manager eventually took responsibility and had the sofa recovered in a different fabric.

Because I have my systems in place to check the fabric prior to fabrication, I am able to circumvent possible problems before they occur.  Additionally, because I charge a project fee, the client does not pay another penny for my additional trips to the design center and her home. Nor does she pay for the extra time it takes for fabric selection, calling vendors, reps or showrooms, or the administrative fees of preparing new contracts, etc.  That is the value that I bring to the process and the value of working with a project fee rather than an hourly rate.  If there is a problem, it is not the client’s fault and it is not my fault either; but I take care of it at no additional charge to the client. 

After the episode with the inferior fabric on the sofa and the many calls back and forth to the store manager by my clients, my clients were very grateful that I looked out for their best interests and took care of any problems without them being involved.  – Alexander Interiors, McLean, VA

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