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Purchase Like a Pro - How to Avoid Interior Design Ordering Errors

Photo by Brooke Lark

Learning to avoid interior design ordering mistakes the hard way

I made my share of mistakes when I first became an interior designer. One time I ordered the wrong granite countertop for a large custom-built pantry. The granite was delivered and installed. I did not visit the job site that day, and no one noticed it was the wrong color until the client got home from work. 

I had ordered the countertop in person at the showroom, and, looking back, I had no way of knowing if I asked for the right color. Somewhere between my lips and the vendor's computer system, the color changed. I did not catch the error, so I was responsible and ended up paying to have the incorrect granite removed and the correct one installed.

Interior Design & Remodeling Order Checklist

Lesson learned. I never again relied upon a verbal order. Eventually, I put together a checklist for interior design orders. Here it is:

  1. Pull your specifications from your plan. If you don't have plans, don't purchase yet.  More on why it's just not worth it to skip this step here
  2. Pull projected costs from your budget. Knowing how much you budgeted for each item will save you the time and trouble of looking at items you can't afford. More on creating a budget here
  3. Shop for options that fit into your specifications and budget.
  4. Select the best option based on your style and preferences.
  5. Check the suitability of your selection with your contractor so that you don't purchase items that will be difficult for him to install or do not meet local building codes.
  6. Get a quote from the vendor, including freight and delivery cost, plus sales tax.
  7. Check the vendor's ETA to make sure that the product will arrive before your contractor needs it.
  8. Place the order, preferably in writing.
  9. Check every detail of the order and make changes as required. Again, in writing.
  10. Send any corrections, changes, or cancellations to the vendor in writing.
  11. Schedule delivery making sure that the vendor knows all about the location to which they are delivering. Is it a residence or a business? Do items need to be carried upstairs? Is the road narrow?
  12. Receive and inspect the order. Note any visible damage, and open boxes to check the conditions of the items inside. Also, make sure what you received matches what you ordered.
  13. Return or exchange items as needed.


Jackie Lopey, Certified Interior Designer & founder of Wide Canvas

She didn't know it, but Jackie Lopey's days as an advertising executive were numbered when she bought and renovated a 1950's bungalow. She soon went back to school and started her own design studio. Jackie is an award-winning, certified interior designer and the founder of Wide Canvas.


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