Welcome to Design track mind by Melissa Gulley

I am an interior designer from Newton, MA having a lot of fun writing this blog between client appointments, kid stuff, kid school stuff, dog stuff, husband stuff, husband's company stuff (http://www.fueldog.com/), life stuff, old house stuff, family stuff, extended family stuff and the rest of the detail stuff. I am not a writer (clearly) so please ignore the typo's, spelling mistakes and desperate need for proofreading.

Why Hire an Interior Designer?

Last Tuesday I was offered the job of Interior Designer for the TV Show This Old House on their new project in Auburndale (a Village of Newton), MA.  I am so excited!  I have watched this show for as long as I can remember and have an inventory of the magazine in my office that would astound you. 

In addition to being an Interior Designer I am a construction/renovation junkie at heart (certainly a serial renovator).  I wish I had the skill to do finish carpentry like Tom Silva (have not met him yet-I might pass out in awe- that would not be good for my current standing with these people).  The architect on the project: Chris Chu, also from Newton, is the person who set this in motion for me.  Chris is wonderful and we have worked together on past projects.  The clients who own the Auburndale House Allison and Raveen Sharma are so great!  Actually everyone I’ve met so far has been amazing to say the least, as I guess you’d expect.

The reason for this blog post is that my new clients have never worked with an Interior Designer (congratulations you’re normal- most people haven't).  Thus, I thought of the masses out there who share their position as first time designer clients. 

My experience tells me that there are two schools of thought when considering hiring a designer, ‘needs’ and ‘fears’. 

Needs: “we’re downing in decisions, too many things to pick, too many choices, I don’t have time for this, what do you mean you need colors picked by this afternoon?  I want the house to flow but there is just too much to think about- I can’t see how to do this, I’m stuck in a rut- maybe someone will have some new ideas,  If I do what I like today how will it age- I don’t want to spend all this money only to have it go out of style in a couple years.  I don’t want to make mistakes- there too expensive and permanent.”

The secondary thoughts (fears):  “What if this person forces “her” look on us, I don’t want a poufy “Decorator-ish” house, what if she makes us feel bad about what we like, what if her choices are totally impractical for our kids/dogs/life etc…,  what if this kills our furniture budget,  I don’t want to live in a museum/hotel looking place.”


So why hire a designer?

Well, many reasons, but five (ok maybe six depending on who you hire) are on top of mind when writing this:

1) To have an incredible looking house that you feel completely comfortable in for years to come.

2)  To save to incredible amounts of time, stress and money.

3)  To help make unemotional decisions based on style, practicality, durability, and budget while keeping the big picture of the total project always in mind.

4)  To be presented with the absolute perfect items for every aspect of the job without having to do one bit of research or hunting yourself.

5)  Renovation therapist!!!- a neutral person to balance the different needs and tastes of the whole family, while balancing budget and and over all style.

6)  To have the process of decorating a room or building a house be as fun as possible!!!

There is no doubt that an Interior Designer is immensely helpful and that the project will be easier, quicker and come out completely different looking with the help of one.  I laugh when I hear someone say “I need” something- whatever that item may be.  Define “need” especially in this economy?  Does anyone absolutely “Need” an Interior Designer- NO!  In fact using an interior designer is a complete and utter luxury (when you’re in the middle of a nightmare build out- it might just be the absolute best luxury money can buy).  If it was something everyone “needed” then there would be a bazillion of us and we would be priced more as a commodity (instead of health insurance there would be design insurance HMO vs PPO).  But the reality is that an Interior Designer is very, very expensive.  And yet, believe it or not, we can save you a lot of money and ten times that in personal time and headaches.    Let’s face it, there are a ton of mistakes that could be avoided if you knew every option out there and what about your choices would make it good or bad for each decision.  Unless it’s what you do for a living, why would you know all the choices and in’s and out’s for interior options?

When you’re too close to a project (the home owner) you lack the natural perspective to make the best unbiased/unemotional/balanced decisions. When I’m stuck designing my house (happens constantly- minute to minute truth be told- you all know what i mean) I seriously panic and call in the troops (usually this involves my sister Kim, who’s a doctor…I know go figure, but a doctor comes in handy with the heart palpitations from the impending expense I’m contemplating) and at least three or four of my design friends.  They ride to the rescue and help me make the choices I’m too emotional about to make myself.  And with us, it’s quid pro quo - they call me in for their houses too.  You can’t do your own house, or perhaps you can, but not well!

So, last Tuesday I started with my new client, studying the wonderful plans Chris Chu has designed for the Sharma's and walking through the property with  my new client Allison.  Next appointment is an inventory of what the Sharma's currently own and wish to use in the new house.  I will keep you posted on the design process and the excitement as it flows.  Thank you This Old House for this wonderful opportunity!!!

Please follow along, here is a link to This Old House website: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/house-project/overview/0,,20387317,00.html

I believe the 16 episodes will start to air in October on PBS but will be touched on with the website and blog before then.

Here are some incredible articles and blog posts that are must reads if looking for an interior Designer or Decorator:









  1. that is so awesome and i am so jealous of you!
    If they say you possibly need an assistant.....let me know!

  2. I cant attest that in the past we have wasted a decent amount of money on choices (furniture, etc.) that we made and later regretted -- such a bummer! We feel much better about our current remodel/redecorating knowing that we have your expertise to guide us, Melissa!

  3. My friend at works loves your blog, especially the post on kitchens! Thanks! And great advice on hiring an interior designer! You Rock!

  4. That is so so exciting, I am so jealous!! I have been watching that show for as long as I can remember. I would watch it with my Dad for hours and hours and hours!!

    Congrats on the new gig, I cant wait to read more!

  5. wow! That's awesome. I'm sure you will do a brilliant job.Keep us posted.Thanks for sharing.

  6. Yep most people have not had the chance to hire an interior decorator. But the ones who have tried it, keep coming back for more because they now see the inner beauty of their home on a different perspective.

  7. Well interior designers have a flair for art and interior home design is their forte. Homes become extra beautiful when touched by the hands of an interior designer. They know how to make a room look and feel cozy and warm at the same time.