What is the budget for the room makeovers?
It varies by homeowner. Homeowners set a budget for the room based on what they are willing to spend, and that is passed along to the designer. The designer works within that budget to make it a realistic makeover for the homeowner. The designer is allowed to go over budget only with the “splurge” options. Budgets generally are at least $3,000 and occasionally much more.
Who pays for the makeover?
The design itself is done at no cost to homeowners. The Washington Post assigns the rooms to designers, who do the work for free. They send us a detailed design packet, and we work with the illustrator to edit the packet down to the main points that appear in print and online. With complex designs that include many details not included in the print version or illustration, we send the homeowners the complete design packet with all of the designer’s suggestions. Once they set the budget and receive the suggestions, homeowners can implement as little or as much of the design plan as they want, at their own cost.
What restrictions do designers have to work with?
In addition to the budget constraints, designers are not allowed to do major renovations to the structure of the room (unless the homeowner has specifically indicated plans to take on such a project). They cannot use products that are to-the-trade or one-of-a-kind items, as everything has to be something that can be linked in the shopping guide and available to the homeowners as well as readers. We don’t allow them to use items from their own stores. We also don’t let them use products from Etsy.com or temporary sale sites such as Joss and Main or One King’s Lane, because those items are usually limited in quantity or only available for a short time. We ask them to choose items from a variety of stores.
How do you choose the rooms?
Homeowners e-mail us their challenges, photos of the room and what they want to get out of the process. We try to pick a variety of rooms and houses and include a range of budgets. We also look for rooms that have challenges or problems to solve, rather than just a straight room makeover. We do not use rooms from outside the Washington area.
How much time passes between when a room is chosen and when it appears in the paper?
Usually at least two months, and it can be as long as five months.
What happens after a room is chosen?
We collect more information, including a budget, design preferences and likes and dislikes. We ask homeowners what colors they prefer and where they most often shop, or what style they are drawn to. We compile all of that, along with homeowner’s photos, and send it to a designer, who then works on a proposal. We also send a professional photographer out to take “before” pictures of the space and a portrait of the homeowner. The designer sends the completed packet to us and the illustrator to have his or her vision translated into what appears in print and online.
How do you choose designers?
We have a list of designers we’ve worked with in the past, and we often get requests from new designers who are interested in participating. Generally, we try not to use the same designer more than once in a 12-month period.