Frequently Asked Questions
What is an Interior Stylist?
Similar to wardrobe stylists, an interior stylist is a consultant who specializes in crafting a signature look for your space by selecting furniture and accessories that fit your needs and reflect your personality. And don’t let the title fool you – outdoor spaces are fair game, in addition to bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens, living and dining areas, nurseries, playrooms, and offices.
What are the benefits to hiring an Interior Stylist?
The most significant benefit to hiring an interior stylist is saving time and money. Whether you don’t have a clue where or how to get started, or you’re having trouble tying pieces together, or you have a busy schedule that hinders you from tackling a decorating project on your own, an interior stylist can be a tremendous asset. Additionally, our company doesn’t charge high hourly rates, hidden fees, or markups on furniture and accessories. We facilitate purchases and often receive to-the-trade discounts from retailers and suppliers, so we’re able to save our clients even more. You’ll enjoy the know-how, flexibility, and personalized service you expect from an interior professional, and still have money in the bank.
What is your style?
At SJL Interiors, we aim to please. If you have a particular style in mind, we’ll do everything possible to make your vision a reality. Our spaces represent an array of looks: retro or contemporary, global or rustic. It isn’t uncommon for us to mix styles—we might use Moroccan lanterns and poufs in a coastal setting, or tribal prints in a mid-century modern design scheme.
How do we get started?
Project Planning is the first phase in our process. We begin by setting up an appointment to meet with you face-to-face for an initial consultation, preferably at the would-be project site (e.g., your home, your office, or place of business). During the consultation, we ask about your likes and dislikes, wants, and needs. If you decide to move forward with us after the consultation, we’ll discuss the scope of work, timeline and budget, and answer any questions you may have regarding next steps.
Contact our Interior Stylist, Shannon Gatewood, at (240) 514-7554 to set up an appointment that fits your schedule. You can also provide some background information on your home staging needs by filling out our online form, or sign up for a private e-design account to get started with your interior styling experience today.
What is your cancellation policy?
We understand that time comes at a premium these days. If an appointment needs to be cancelled and/or rescheduled, we ask that you do so at least 48 hours in advance.
How do I prepare for my initial consultation?
Before you sit down with us, think about the room(s) you want to style and your desired outcome. Ask yourself: How will I (or my family) use the space? What sort of vibe am I going for? Do I want to keep any existing furnishings, or start from scratch? Functionality, personal style, and atmosphere are all important considerations. You can bring with you pictures of designs you like, as well as floorplans and/or measurements of your current space. Finally, you should have an idea of your budget, how soon you’d like to get started, and when you’d like to have the project finished.
What other phases are there to a project?
Depending on the scope of work, a project can move through up to four additional phases: Product Portfolio & Budgeting (Phase II), Acquisition (Phase III), Product Placement (Phase IV), and Project Closing (Phase V). If you’re simply looking for some new ideas but want to handle executing a design on your own, then your project would end in Phase II. If you require more hands-on assistance with decorating your space, you can expect your project to go through all five phases. We tie up any loose ends that may remain during Phase V, including providing a final cost breakdown, invoice, and overseeing a photography session to capture the results.
How long does an interior styling project usually take?
Project timelines vary and are influenced by several factors. Smaller projects generally take less time to complete (4-6 weeks), but a project of any size can take longer than expected if, for example, it’s challenging for us to accommodate a client’s hectic schedule or if there are unexpected delays in acquiring products. We always do what we can to stick to our project timelines, but also understand the importance of making adjustments when life happens. We revisit project timelines often and communicate with you when changes are required.
How long does home staging take?
Home staging usually requires three visits: one for planning, one for staging and having professional photographs taken, and another for removal of rented furniture and decorative accessories. Our goal is to have a property staged and ready for showings within three weeks of the initial consultation; the timeline is usually shorter on homes in good to excellent condition, as they require less time for you to handle tasks such as painting, cleaning, and repairs.
What cities do you work in?
We offer face-to-face services in Potomac, Bethesda, Rockville, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Hyattsville, just to name a few. We also serve Washington, DC, Baltimore City, and additional locations surrounding both. Please contact us if you’re not sure whether your address falls within our catchment area.
I live outside your catchment area. Can I still work with you?
Yes, you can still work with us if you live outside our physical service area. Here’s how: We offer two distinct tiers of interior styling service – Standard and Classic – that enable us to work with clients from a distance. After you sign up for a private e-design account, we conduct our initial consultation over the phone or a video conferencing platform; what we need from you are photos, floorplans, and/or measurements of your space so we can get a better sense of what we have to work with. After the consultation, we’ll develop initial style boards and continue coordinating with you via the e-design platform. We incorporate the feedback you provide, then customize your style board(s) and Product Portfolio, and give you guidance on product placement (Note: Product Portfolio included in Classic Tier only).
What is a style board?
Our style boards (also known as mood boards) are 2D or 3D visual representations of your design scheme. We curate personalized collections of furniture and accessories, then present them in such a way that you can see how your space can be transformed before making purchases. Our style boards are shared either in person or electronically, and can be accompanied by a Product Portfolio – a list of all products used in the design – with our Product Research (Tailored) or Classic, Premium, and Elite (Tiered) services.
What is a Product Portfolio?
A Product Portfolio is an inventory of all the furnishings that will be incorporated into your design. We build a Product Portfolio for clients who hire us for Product Research or purchase a Classic, Premium, or Elite interior styling package. The list contains links so you know exactly where to find each item, as well as check out photos, specifications, and reviews for yourself. If you don’t care for an item in your Product Portfolio, we’ll find an alternative that suits your taste (number of revisions varies with package). The end result is a hand-picked selection of furnishings you’ll adore.
Where do you get furniture and accessories?
For home staging, furniture is rented from local companies. We also shop a number of popular retailers (e.g., west elm, Crate & Barrel, IKEA, Pier 1, Wayfair) and several boutique suppliers. If you have a particular style or companies whose products you love, we will certainly take your preferences into account when designing your space. We’ll shop where you do because when our work is done, we want to make sure you feel at home.
Can you integrate my favorite pieces of furniture or accessories into the design?
Yes, we’re more than happy to incorporate your favorites into our design. We always ask whether you intend to keep certain pieces and if they should be the focal point in the room. In fact, we love the challenge of finding new, exciting ways to showcase existing furniture and accessories.
I don’t know what style I want – can you still help?
Yes. With so many popular trends, we understand that it can be difficult to settle on a specific style. If you’re not sure whether you prefer bohemian over farmhouse or rustic over industrial, we’ll ask you questions and show you pieces from several different styles to help you come up with a cohesive look.
What is home staging?
Home staging is the business and art of preparing a residence to sell competitively in the real estate market. The goal of home staging is to attract the highest number of potential buyers, and ultimately sell a residence quickly, at a higher price point.
How is home staging different from interior styling?
Home staging is intended to neutralize and depersonalize a residence, thereby appealing to a wide array of potential buyers. Interior styling is essentially the opposite – furnishings and accents are chosen to reflect personal style and accommodate a specific way of life.
Is any project too small?
Not at all. We welcome projects of any size. Sometimes all it takes is a new paint color, a few well-placed throw pillows, or the perfect rug to transform your space from every day to extraordinary. You can hire us on an hourly basis for smaller projects to get the exact type of help you need, when you need it.
What are the most common types of interior styling projects you take on for your clients?
Most of our interior styling projects fall into any one of the Tailored, hourly service categories or our Classic (Tiered) service category – complete designs that require conceptualization, but do not require managing purchases and delivery, or in-person styling. If a particular combination of services feels like the best fit, we mix and match Tailored and Tiered services to provide a unique experience for our clients. And we always encourage our clients to go with the services that suit their budget and needs. Please visit the Styling section for a full description of all our services.
Is there a contract?
Yes, we do develop contracts for our home staging and interior styling projects. We pride ourselves in building solid working relationships with our clientele and prefer to have a contract in place to ensure your peace of mind. After coming up with a project timeline, we draw up the terms of service, obtain electronic signatures, and provide copies. Once a contract is in place, we reserve the right to request written documentation (e.g., addendums, certified letters, emails) of any verbal agreements before continuing or completing work on projects.
How much does home staging cost?
Costs vary depending on whether the residence is occupied versus vacant and how many rooms need to be staged. Generally, vacant homes are more expensive to stage because they require more furnishings and effort to stage properly.
Our prices are fixed and depending on your needs, may include consultation, furniture rental, staging, and professional photos of the finished space. Please visit our Home Staging section for details on service fees.
What does an interior styling project typically cost?
Like the amount of time an interior styling project takes, costs differ based on the size of the project. Before any design work begins, we discuss what you want and what your budget is. We use the budget to come up with realistic estimates up front and inform you when project costs are going to vary from the original estimate.
How do you charge?
Our interior styling services fall into two categories: Tailored (à la carte) and Tiered. Our Tailored services allow you to hire an interior stylist at an hourly rate and you get to choose exactly how those hours are spent –anything from selecting paint colors or a new sofa, to styling your space using new or existing décor. Our Tiered services are structured and rendered at a flat fee for a fixed amount of work. Should you purchase a Tiered package and need additional services, we charge a separate hourly rate.
Which methods of payment do you accept?
Payment for consultations is collected in person via check or credit/debit card using either Square or PayPal Here. Electronic invoices for other services can be paid via credit/debit card or electronic transfer through PayPal or Square.
When is payment due?
Consultation fees are due on the day of consultation. For flat-fee services, a 50% minimum deposit is due once a contract is signed; the remaining balance is due either on the day a residence is staged, or in the case of interior styling projects, when the project closes. We reserve the right to negotiate, request written documentation, and sign off on deviations in payment schedules on a case-by-case basis.
Do you still have questions or concerns that were not addressed? Please contact us for more information.