Scarsdale decorator offers tips for clients
By MARY SHUSTACK
THE JOURNAL NEWS (Original Publication: March 23, 2006)
The "Dynamic Duo" is the way Georgene Mongarella likes to describe the
relationship between a designer and client.
The Scarsdale interior-design consultant says a good alliance is the
heart of a successful project, from an alcove to a sprawling mansion.
Mongarella, who 20 years ago took a background in customer service and
applied it to the design field, heads up The Color Schemer Ltd., also in
Scarsdale. Along with her fellow co-chairs of the Scarsdale Show House 2005,
Mongarella is being honored Saturday with the Historic Preservation Award by
the Scarsdale Historical Society during its annual spring benefit dinner.
Mongarella, who recently completed a three-year term on the board of the
American Society of Interior Designers' (ASID) New York Metropolitan
Chapter, teaches adult-education courses and aspiring designers. She reminds
all students that "our environment and experience of life are greatly
influenced by the design of spaces in which we live and work."
Mongarella sat down recently in her home to offer a few thoughts on the
What does a client need to convey to a designer to get the relationship
off on the right foot?
"If they're going to have an existing environment, I need to know what
must stay, what they absolutely hate. If they can bring pictures to me, to
show what they want. They should never be intimidated with a designer.
People think they're spending money. No, they're saving money. The only time
I charge without a product is for the consultation."
How can a client know if they will be compatible with a designer?
"I tell everyone that uses an interior decorator-slash-designer:
interview three people. Get a sense of who you can work with."
What is something the designer should always keep in mind during a
"It has to suit (the client's) needs. I can't decorate a room to suit my
needs. It has to reflect them ... Everybody's important, and whether we may
work for a New York Yankee or your brother who just lost his wife, we treat
everybody the same."
Do more home-related shows and decorating personalities make your job
easier or harder?
"People like the home and garden network, so it gets them enthused ...
(but) I think kids today aren't interested in the quality pieces. They're
more interested in the cost-effectiveness, where they can do a whole room
... I think for people today, not all, we almost live in a 'microwave
society.' They want to have their apartments all done at once. They're
feeling is 'In five years, I'll throw it all away.' It's almost disposable."
A client presents you grand ideas and a limited budget. What do you do?
"If someone doesn't have the budget and they want 100 percent silk window
treatments and they want four windows done, I can recommend a polyester that
looks like silk. I'm their shepherd. I have to guide them."