Myth Busting The Interior Design Trade.

I was over at a client’s one day getting their home ready for a neighborhood home tour they were participating in. I was putting all the accessories in place and arranging the furniture so that it was just perfect. There were several gracious old homes on the tour, many of them had been photographed for magazines in the past, but my client’s home is the oldest, and the one house in the neighborhood that arouses the most curiosity because it sits high up on a hill with a craggy set of winding steps flanked by gargoyles. In essence, it’s the creep-tastic home on the block. The kind you see in scary movies.

I had been working with them for several years, picking up the perfect items when we’ve found or needed them. Slowly creating a home that reflects both of their personalities of savvy candor and ease with open heartedness to chic cultural influences. I generally work on a casual basis with people, allowing their homes to progress  over time; as if each piece acquired adds to the story of the home and the lives within.

“OMG, we look RICH! How did that happen,….?”

While my clients were busy preparing some snacks for the event in the kitchen, I took the opportunity to take a snapshot of their living room with my cell phone camera just because it was looking mighty pretty. The shot turned out nicer than I had anticipated, and so I showed my clients the image.

Their response was quite unexpected.

Husband: “OMG we look RICH! How did that happen, considering we aren’t?”

Wife: “Yeah, that’s a crazy good shot!! You know,..I don’t know why people don’t use Interior Designers more. You, (Carter), have saved us from wasting our time trying to find the right items while saving us thousands of dollars by not buying the wrong stuff.” “You got our vibe from the start. So,..why is it so hard for people to use Designers?”

Good question: Why is it so hard for people to use Interior Designers?

There’s a couple of reasons as to why and I can state a few below:

FEAR: The interior design profession is seen as an intimidating one. It’s also seen as a luxury or superfluous where only the wealthy hire such experts. While this isn’t true, this myth has such a stronghold on the public consciousness, that it’s perenially a hard one to shake off. Interior Designers are like any other profession where one would need an expert to get the right results. A good lawyer, plumber, contractor or doctor are considered worth the price tag, but designers more often than not get a bum wrap for their expertise. Certainly magazines and social media showcasing extravagantly designed homes don’t help play down the preconceived high price tag. People fear designers will be too expensive and thus bypass our expertise to help them.

THE INTERNET: The internet is a vast resource for design and design ideas. It’s pretty much endless in terms of options. Naturally, many may think that it’s easy to just follow a tip or copy an inspiration from a blog or buy that cheap replica chair online thinking it’s going to look good the second it arrives. Sadly, this is usually where a rude awakening happens as that bargain chair you thought was going to be great doesn’t even come close to resembling the photoshopped image you saw online. Quite often, novice, DIY designers make the mistake of not knowing size, scale or quality of the item they are buying – it just looks pretty online so they get it. Once it arrives, sending it back may be a challenge, so living with your mistake is just what you do. Money lost rather than well spent. Yes, you do get what you pay for, and with the internet being what it is, this is an easy trap to fall into. I’ve always said: “Buy quality once, you cry once. Buy cheap once, you cry a lot!”

“Buy quality once, you only cry once.

Buy cheap once, and you’ll cry a lot!”


CHOICE: There are so many choices these days for design, people get the idea that all this choice is a good thing. But limitless choices actually cause more problems than they solve. First of all, it can become overwhelming. While you spend countless hours, days weeks, years perusing Pinterest lets say,  interior designers can quickly navigate and pinpoint the right style much much faster; literally warp speed in comparison. So if your time isn’t valuable, go head and scour for that deal forever. If your time is indeed valuable, then an interior designer can get you where you want to be sooner than you think

FREE DESIGN ADVICE: Many big box stores advertise free design advice from their “design team”. Sounds attractive right? Why hire an independent interior designer when you can get the advice free, right? That’s why so many people opt to use these services. But in reality, it isn’t free. Most of these store designers are actually salespeople who have to fulfill a sales quota. They will get to know you enough to make the sale whereas an independent designer will get to know you much more thoroughly, your real style, innate preferences and designs around you – not a catalog.

“An independent Designer designs

around you,..not a catalog.”



Our jobs as designers, in reality, is to problem solve design dilemmas. That awkward room size, the maze of small rooms or strange floorpan. Architectural features that seem fantastic on premise such as open floor plans or double height ceilings, that prove to be problematic once you’ve moved in. We first decipher the issues at hand, find solutions and then start to interject the client’s personality into a space. Many designers actually pay attention to client budgets and will work within the limits, finding things that a client, on their own, would never be able to obtain. Yes, we may have a higher hourly rate than those “free services” at a big box store, but what we do for our clients is get the job done right,..the first time.

So what’s the best way to get over your fear of hiring an interior designer? Make a phone call, ask questions and decide for yourself if using a designer is worth it. Usually it is, if not for expediency and expertise, but for getting the beautiful home you desire faster than you ever though possible. Designers are in the service industry after all, we are here to serve you. Our training and eye for detail can and should be utilized by all, not just the rich. As my client’s above proclaimed, “You helped us look rich when we are not.”

You see, you’ve been in the driver’s seat the entire time,………….you just didn’t know it!




Rule Breaker



Learn the Rules like a Pro

       So you can Break them like an Artist

~Pablo Picasso ~


It took a long time to learn the rules. My interest in art started early on out of a natural affinity for expressing myself through crayons at age 4. Drawing on any paper I could find, cardboard or other surface, I copied everything witnessed through my eyes of nature around me. All one had to do was look at my room and drawings were everywhere, and when I ran out of paper, I started in on the walls. It drove my parents nuts, but they also recognized that there was something there; this quiet, introverted kid was displaying an early passion for a vocation. Art.

An evening at my studio working on a half finished canvas mural for a client.


It didn’t take long for my mother to find a retired art teacher who made extra money teaching young students at her kitchen table inside her home every Wednesday night. Her name was Mrs. Brown. There I sat with 2-3 other kids, (all of us between 6-8 years old), learning how to correctly draw tigers, giraffes, people’s faces and figures. It was amazing to go to her house every Wednesday night and bring home something that didn’t look like stick figures or pencil scratchings. I was learning and loving it. At the time, I hadn’t known that Mrs. Brown was an accomplished artist showcasing in galleries around the country, or that what she was teaching her students were lessons in drawing that were at the level of a teenager.

In fourth grade I had another phenomenal teacher who helped to shape and mold me, Mrs. DiGangi. While she taught the usual fourth grade curriculum, the main focus was for all her students to learn about culture and art. Our days were spent learning classical music, naming the song by ear along with the composer. We had to recognize famous art and the artists who painted each piece and the year created. She showed us how to write our own poetry, plays, scripts and how to produce a theater show. This was not your typical public school fourth grade class. What none of us knew, was that Mrs. DiGangi believed her students so much, that she taught at a 12th grade level of competence, hoping it would all sink in. For me, it certainly did.

Replicating a french mural from the 17th Century using authentic gouaches made from fermented beer and gesso.

Throughout my teens, 20s and 30s, I learned the rules of Art and became a pro. I could copy classical artwork with ease; had no issues coming up with creative solutions to any project handed to me in regards to art and design for residential and commercial spaces. Many people loved that I could replicate an old masters style of painting, but copying such things only left me partially fulfilled. I needed more. I needed to explore.

“Many people loved that I could replicate an old masters style of painting, but copying such things only left me partially fulfilled.”

I did so first by simply changing colors and compositions of the things I had been taught. With each step into unknown territories, I became bolder in my attempts to create something of significance. I failed more often than I succeeded. Still, I got paid for the work, though in my own head I hadn’t done anything mind blowing. I felt stuck. Should I keep on doing what pays the bills or should I explore? That kind of decision is like leaping off a cliff, hoping there’s something to soften the blow below.

It can be an arduous task to find one’s voice, to become noted in a crowded room. I had fallen into the trap of comparing myself to other artists, thinking they were better, more skilled and more accomplished. They certainly knew how to self-promote. Who was I, then, to have all this education but no resonating voice. I dove further into the abyss, trying to find what excited me beyond what had been learned. I needed to transform.

After: Chair painted with Chameleon paint that changes color as one walks around it to match the sharkskin silk fabric.

That’s when I founded Omforme. A word that literally means “to transform” in Norwegian. Starting with a set of chairs that I had painted in saturated pastels in a new type of paint called chameleon paint. The paint actually changes colors as you walk around the chairs. Pink turns to orange, blue turns to green, etc. I put a listing up on this new website I had heard about called Etsy. Lots of creatives and craftspeople had already been successful on Etsy, yet I had huge doubts that anything would come of my listing. For sure I thought, nothing will sell, it will just sit there for everyone to laugh at and talk about how gaudy the chairs were. How they would never have anything like that in their homes – too much! On the spur of the moment, I decided to add one of the murals I had painted – yet another copy of classical work as the backdrop. At least there would be something people would like even if my chairs proved to be visually appalling.

Yeah, I was prepared for the worst. What actually happened instead, moved me: people started responding favorably. I couldn’t believe it. To see all the “likes” and “saves” people were doing of my stupid chairs and replica art. To them, what I had created wasn’t stupid, it was new and exciting. That’s when I realized I had found my voice. The chairs and the mural sold to the same person within two weeks of it being listed on Etsy. I was amazed and humbled from the experience. I knew I had to continue being able to produce interesting works of art through furniture restoration and design. To do things in a way that others hadn’t seen before. What I didn’t realize was that I had unwittingly learned how to break the rules and become an artist for real, in my own mind.

I still produce colorful furnishings. While many are uncomfortable having such boldness in their homes, there is a whole group of people who crave the unusual; trying to find their voice too. I am thankful for them, for I will never stop breaking the rules. After all, it’s why rules exist in the first place, to break with tradition and push us forward and grow from.

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