Here are a few pointers and reminders if you're improving your office or your home. Any of these items will make the process easier:
1. The most important reminder: Get some help when making costly decisions. There are professionals all around, and there is no question that they will save you what they cost you. I will certainly expound on that on-going theme of mine at another time again, or check out previous posts! Remember that time is money and the experience of others can be pretty invaluable.
2. You will get what you pay for unless you are lucky. If the price is too good to be true, there is a catch and usually its quality. If you are shopping at Value City, please don't expect the quality to be the same as if you ordered the same product from a showroom at the Merchandise Mart or even at a high-end resale shop.
3. Just because the economy still sucks, prices are not dropping. Perhaps you can save on a floor sample or a warehouse special, but I am not finding any reduction in costs of products that are new or special-ordered, as most furnishings are. Raw materials cost more, so prices must go up.
4. If you have having something custom made or custom upholstered or custom finished in paint or stain, it will likely not be completed any sooner than a year or two ago. In fact, it my take longer. I do not deal in Chinese-made furniture like the big furniture store chains do, so I can't speak for overseas products.
American factories (and this is true of ALL things construction-related) have cut their work forces to accommodate slower times. That means that what took 8-14 weeks will still take 8-14 weeks. As business improves—and it eventually will—if will take longer. Manufacturers are not interested in over-staffing and I would rather wait a few more weeks to get something made by a "well-oiled machine", wouldn't you?
5. Contractors and tradesmen will only lower their prices to a point and then they will let the project go. Again, they only have a limited number of projects now, but their work force is smaller and they want to keep the quality up without staffing up. It's insulting to offer someone half of what their quote is, but that's up to you!
6. I remind my clients that if they make the right decisions, they don't have to make very sweeping ones again for a long time. Well-made furniture can last decades. I have clients who have reupholstered or reworked furniture (including making some pretty major changes but not starting anew) several times. I know and they know how long they've had the items. It's like not coloring your hair and then coloring it and then letting it get gray… We don't re-side the outside of the house if we only want to new color, unless the siding is falling apart.
That can be a big project. Look at the inside in the same way.
7. To make yourself less crazy, don’t get proposals from too many contractors, designers, architects, stores, showrooms. Try to do a bit of looking and asking, and limit the paperwork you'll have to review. Personally, I love "Project Management". I do it for clients often and it helps their selection of other service providers and manufacturers, PLUS I get to put together a flawless team (& it usually Really Is).
8. Let yourself enjoy the project. If it's not fun anymore, either your expectations were unrealistic, or you're "in over your head" or you've made it more complicated than you needed to. Step back and re-evaluate. Then, go back and unstick the part that's stuck or get help. Each little part may not be fun, but it should absolutely be a good experience.