The following post is also sold on the broker on Antonia Bayle in a book (as long as I remember to keep it stocked).
To begin with, please remember that your decorator is a player, just like you. While decorators enjoy decorating, often to the exclusion of all other aspects of the game, that does not mean they are a second-class gamer.
Please also remember that you are hiring someone in a GAME, and real life may come up to bite your decorator in the rear. Try to be understanding.
If you approach a decorator right before or during an in-game holiday or event (check the in-game calendar for holiday dates), you’re unlikely to be able to hire them. Most decorators spend the holidays stocking up on furniture and materials.
1. DETERMINE THE SCOPE
Before you approach your decorator, determine the scope of what you want done. Do you just want one room? A section of a room? Half a house? An entire house?
Which house do you want decorated?
How elaborately do you want it decorated? Do you just want furniture in the existing house? Do you want the walls of the house “skinned” (covered over with tiles, dividers, or other items to create false walls directly in front of the existing walls, so that you can have the walls look different from how they currently look)? Or do you want an entire house built from scratch?
If you want a house built from scratch out of building blocks, how big of a house do you want? Small? Medium? Large? A castle?
Are you having a home built? A bar? An orphanage? A medical center? Be sure you know what the theme of the home you’re commissioning is before you approach your decorator.
You don’t have to know an exact amount you want to pay your decorator. You and the decorator can come to an agreement. But you should still have an idea of your maximum price you’re willing to pay. Your decorator will know the minimum price they’re willing to decorate for, and the two of you can haggle from there.
Remember that the price you pay will depend on how large a project you want, as well as how experienced the decorator is. As a rule of thumb, the more experienced a decorator, the pricier their minimum price will be. This makes sense--they’re a desired commodity. You aren’t the only one who wants to hire them, and so their price will be high enough to make decorating your home worth their while.
If you aren’t sure what a good maximum price would be, think about how much you can make in an hour of gameplay. Then think about the fact that the average home takes at least a week of gameplay, if not more. (A smaller house will, of course, take less time. And a larger house will take longer.)
Also consider whether you’re comfortable paying everything up front, or whether you’d prefer to pay half at the start and half at the end. Make sure your decorator addresses WHEN you are to pay them. Keep in mind that in addition to your fee, most decorators request that you also cover fuel costs for any items they have to make, or commission costs for any furniture they have to commission. Find out beforehand whether you’re expected to cover these costs, or whether the decorator will take it out of their fee.
Never, ever, EVER insist that the decorator is to receive the payment after they’ve decorated. Too many decorators have been burned by people refusing to pay after they’ve done the work, or claiming “It isn’t quite what I wanted,” and then refusing to pay the agreed upon amount.
If a home isn’t quite what you wanted, TALK TO THE DECORATOR and see if they can make it closer to what your vision is.
3. HIRING YOUR DECORATOR
There are a multitude of ways to choose a decorator. You can visit homes on the Leaderboards, find a style you like, and go about contacting the homeowner to find out who decorated their home. From there, you can contact the decorator directly (assuming they still play).
You can browse the Homeshow forums (http://bit.ly/eq2homeshow) for decorating styles you like, and send a Private Message to the decorators there.
You can post in the Homeshow forums or in the Homeshow channel (/join Homeshow if you're on Antonia Bayle, or /join Antonia_Bayle.Homeshow if you're on another server, barring Nagafen), requesting the services of a decorator, and laying out the scope of your project. I don’t advise this route, as very few decorators are willing to step up unless you’re offering a large chunk of platinum. It’s much harder for decorators to say no when you approach them directly, especially when you’re praising a home they’ve already built.
Much better are the first two options--talking directly to the decorator of your choice via in-game or the message boards. This has the added benefit of ensuring that you like the decorator’s style of decorating.
4. TALK TO THE DECORATOR
Your decorator may have ground rules when decorating. Some decorators don’t like having housepets out while they work. Others insist that the homeowner not touch ANYTHING until they’re done. Still others don’t mind you adding items, as long as you’re willing to allow the decorator to move them around.
Talk to your decorator. Converse with them to find out what they find acceptable and not. Yes, it’s your home, but why make it difficult for the decorator? While you’re paying them, they’re still taking THEIR playtime to do something for YOU. So treat them with courtesy, and try to create the appropriate decorating environment for them. If you want to add things after they’re done, that’s your prerogative; it’s your home. But while the decorator is decorating, it’s THEIR home.
Try not to offer too much advice, or too many opinions, either. Yes, it’s your home, but if you’re constantly telling your decorator how they should decorate, you might as well decorate the home yourself. A request here and there doesn’t bother decorators. When every little thing has to be changed, it does.
5. DO A WALKTHROUGH
Walk through your house or zone with your decorator, and discuss with them what you want each room to be, and any ideas you have for how each room should be decorated.
If you’re having the decorator build an entire house from scratch, still map out ideas.
It’s always helpful if you have pictures of things you want the house to look like. Do a Google search, and come up with some images that are similar to what you want, so that you can direct your decorator to them. This will allow them to have a clear picture of what you’re interested in having your home (or whatever you’re having the zone decorated as) look like.
6. GET IT IN WRITING
Whatever you decide, get it in writing. Have the decorator create a player written book with all of the details you discussed, including:
- Estimated decorating time
- Whether you’re paying before or half before, half after
- Whether you’re covering the fuel cost separate from the fee
- What you want the zone to look like
- If you’ve already paid for the work, make sure the decorator includes that you’ve PAID IN FULL on the house.
Have the decorator give you a copy, and have them keep a copy. That way both of you will have everything you need to know right in front of you.