By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!





We do what we do for a living because we love bringing our client’s dreams to life. Whether through decorating only or, in my world, ideally, construction management leading to decorating. It’s what we love to do and it’s our passion and our expertise. 

We also want to use these projects and the images of our work to market our services and gain additional work. Having photos, whether professional or not, is an incredibly important part of all of our projects. Therefore, if you haven’t already, I want you to put in your contract that you do have a right to photograph your work after the fact. 

I used to never include it in my contracts, and it was fine until it wasn’t. I had a client say, “No thank you” to me taking photos, and it was a project I had worked on for two years. Unfortunately, because it was not in my contract, I had no leg to stand on. 

You should be taking photographs of your work.

You can use them on your website and in your marketing brochures, and you should always be using them on social media. Maybe you already do that.

So, let’s talk about crediting your work. You may be thinking solely about how this impacts you, but we also play a role in that issue. I have encountered this issue on a number of occasions and will likely continue to do so going forward. 

Why I wanted to bring this topic up now.

I have been getting a lot of emails pushed to me through ASID, Business of Home, and on social media about an issue an L.A. designer Timothy Corrigan ran into over one of his former clients. 

If you still receive Shelter magazines, as I do, this past March Architectural Digest issue featured Sophia Vergara from Modern Family on the cover of her beautiful L.A. home. 

Until I saw all the articles about the issue, I didn’t focus on the fact that it was a woman named Ohara Davies-Gaetano, another L.A. designer. 

I have met Timothy a few times at industry events, and he is a titan in our industry. He is the reason I saw this issue in the first place; I follow him on social media. 

He posted a scathing rebuke to the credit that was given to this project. He said he had been hired by Sophia and worked together for two years on a full design and architectural changes, which he went on to say he accomplished. 

After two years of working together, Sophia went in another direction. He thought nothing of it until he saw the article. Sophia is sitting on furniture that he purchased for her, but he is not listed in any of the credits. 

So he hired a lawyer and they sent a letter to Architectural Digest, detailing the specific pieces of furniture showcased in their magazine that had been designed and purchased through Timothy Corrigan’s firm. The good news is Architectural Digest published a correction online, detailing that Timothy Corrigan had been a part of this project. 

So that’s good news, right? He won.

However, the story continues through other publications I was reading. Ohara Davies-Gaetano has been using this publication throughout her social media. Who would really blame her, though? That’s what we all want! She, however, doesn’t mention Timothy Corrigan at all, even after apparently being made aware of the situation. 

I know we all won’t be in the big leagues like that, but I do applaud Timothy Corrigan because he is a titan in our industry. He is incredibly well respected, and he was willing to take this on and assume some legal expenses to do it. The rest of us suffer the same consequences but don’t have the same industry credibility to go after what is rightfully our credit. 

One article explained how this goes down with magazines and it was basically saying Architectural Digest really shouldn’t be to blame for it, but that is a matter of opinion. But they did say that the homeowner gives a written statement as to who the designer was, the landscape, contractor, etc., and signs off on it. So one would be led to believe that Sophia Vergara is the one who misled the magazine. 

She did put out a statement that briefly mentions Timothy, downplays his involvement, and states, again, that Ohara Davies-Gaetano was the one who completed the project. 

This leaves me wondering what she was told. It is not uncommon for a designer to be brought in after another designer has been let go. I would like to believe that Ohara Davies-Gaetano didn’t know the full extent of Timothy’s work and that perhaps Sophia owes everybody an apology.  

How does this story relate to you and your business, not only in terms of giving the right credit but also of getting the right credit?   

One way this happens is that the homeowner doesn’t disclose that another designer was involved in the project, or they do disclose that but don’t detail exactly what changes that designer made or what furniture they purchased. 

Another way is when a homeowner purchases a professionally designed home, and they don’t know who did the work. That is an innocent issue that could come up. 

This leads to social media and this wild, wild west in which we live.

I post a lot of pictures of my work and am constantly thinking about who I should tag. The reality is that someone built the structure and the room we’re designing. There are a lot of team members involved in bringing a project together. So then, what’s the right answer? The right answer would be to tag everyone

The tricky part is when the contractor or architect posts the work you’ve done together without tagging you. 

I’ve had a lot of experience with this, and it is not fun. I have wracked my brain as to why we don’t get tagged. I can’t come up with a reason other than we are unfortunately seen as the lesser industry. Because often, when a contractor posts a photo, they’ll tag the architect and vice versa. For some reason, the designer is the last one on the list and is often forgotten. 

What do you do when you find a post that does not include you but is your work?

Share it on my own social media and make a nice comment about working together, or thank them for posting it. There is a way of inserting yourself into the project, making it obvious but not insulting someone along the way, because we do need industry partners to work with. 

The good news is that when I do that, typically, the contactor will repost, giving me credit, or direct message me saying, “Whoops! So sorry! I forgot.” A few have even gone back and edited their posts.

But the reality is that this will continue, so my goal for each of you is to be very professionally ethical yourself. When you post a project, post the contractor if they have a social media account. If you are working with an architect and a builder, tag them. The more professionally ethical you behave, the more I hope those around you will do the same. 

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