Frugal Interior Designers Thrive in Difficult Economy

In a difficult economy, interior designer jobs may be hard to come by, except within the frugally minded market. Interior designers will do best to focus their efforts on necessity refurbishing among existing homeowners.

Mrs. Connolly was sitting at her breakfast nook nibbling on toast one Saturday morning when, aghast, she saw it: the crack in her ceiling had now extended down her wall and was inches from the built-in cabinet below.

In the presently uncertain real estate market, homeowners whose mortgages are economically stable will stay in their present homes and pay for any necessary refurbishing. Even those who had planned to build a dream home before the credit crisis began will wait until the market improves before putting their homes on the market.

Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. reported earnings below expectations at the end of their fiscal third quarter, March 31, 2008. In response to lower profits, Ethan Allen closed seven design centers and two retail service centers, most of the roughly 14 outlets the company said in January it would close. Also, four design centers were downsized to smaller-size Design Studios, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"We saw the impact of the weak economy on our sales," Chairman and Chief Executive Farooq Kathwari said, as reported by the Journal.

While the economy suffers, interior designers should consider jobs that involve necessity refurbishing. Whether the refurbishing is structural or aesthetic, individuals always need to feel at home wherever they live, and most are willing to spend a little money, even in hard times, to make a home for themselves. A splash of paint on the walls or a reupholstered chair can bring life to a habitation.

The Washington Post provided tips for ways to disguise crooked lines or walls in a home through the application of smart interior design. They recommend using a matte finish paint on crooked walls or using a specialty technique such as Venetian plaster. For lighting, avoid sconces or lights and shine upward.

For crooked windows, the Washington Post recommended hanging draperies several inches above the window casing. For an uneven floor, purchase prefabricated curtains that are several inches too long and have the bottom hemmed to match the floor line. Other tips include using rugs with pads to hide a dip in the floor.

Mrs. Connolly hired a contractor to reinforce her ceiling and to remove the false ceilings above her kitchen cabinets. Then she hired an interior designer to help her select new kitchen cabinets, a countertop, and new flooring, a project that she and her husband had discussed for years. Although the project will be expensive and inconvenient, Mrs. Connolly found that prices for supplies were reduced in the present economy, and she and her husband will be able to save money by pursuing the project at this time.
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