Thanks to my architect’s brilliant concept of the ME space, I ended up with a walk-in wardrobe to die for. A whole room in fact. 22ft x 14ft of space entirely dedicated to my shoes, clothes and handbags. Every girl should have one.
So how do I make best use of it all? Because yes, it’s a lovely big space, but unfortunately, when it comes to putting in the furniture, it’s a bit of an awkward shape. Right under the eaves, the ceiling slopes down on either side so much that the walls on either side of the room are less than a metre high. Which doesn’t allow for a huge amount of full-length hanging space.
I played around with a few ideas, drawing up a few different layouts for where I could place the furniture, but hadn’t really come up with a plan when I went to the Grand Designs Live show.
As I’ve blogged before, at the show I was largely ignored by anybody on the ‘serious’ building side of the show, because clearly girls don’t know anything about renewable energy or bricks. But it was a very different matter on the other side of the show; I was besieged by people wanting to sell me interiors stuff.
One particularly persistent representative from one of those bespoke bedroom furniture companies managed to trap me in the crowd.
“Are you looking for some new bedroom furniture?”
“Well yes, I am actually, but I don’t think you can help. I need a design for a whole room, not just a run of wardrobes along one wall and a few drawers to the side. My space is a lot larger than that so I want something more creative.”
“That’s exactly why you need our help. We can design very creative bedrooms for every kind of space.”
She got my ‘sceptical’ look.
“And if you book an appointment now, we guarantee an extra-special show price. 70% off!!”
She got my extra-special ‘sceptical’ look – the one I reserve for people I believe are talking complete and utter B***S***
I mean, l I love a bargain as much as anyone, but I’ve discovered before that those ‘exclusive’ show prices aren’t so exclusive after all – you’ll find the same ‘discount’ on the company’s website. And these bedroom furniture companies are particularly bad – because nowhere, on any brochure or website, will they show you the pre-sale, undiscounted price. How do you know whether you’ve really got 70% off if they never give you an original price to compare to??
I’m firmly convinced that their discounts are based solely on how much they think they can screw out of the prospective client.
Still, at the time I didn’t really have any alternative bright ideas on how to turn the space into my very own walk-in wardrobe. So having a designer come up and have a bash at producing something creative couldn’t do any harm. And you never know – if I liked the design and the price really was as spectacular as promised, then maybe this would be one job that I just handed over to the ‘professionals’.
An appointment was duly made for the regional designer to visit me on site. (He was based in the North of England – apparently Scotland doesn’t order enough bespoke bedrooms to warrant their own regional designer!)
On the appointed day, he turned up – in his smart suit, shiny shoes and even shinier BMW convertible. And minced his way reluctantly across my ‘building-site-excuse-for-a-garden’.
It was the couple of cigars sticking out of the breast pocket of his blazer that really finished the image. I could just imagine him at the end of the visit, lighting up his victory cigar as he drove off with the roof down, smug in the thought of yet another sucker who fell for the sales pitch.
First impression didn’t improve much once he got inside and launched into his sales spiel. “I know you were referred through the GD Live show, and I’m sure they promised you a show discount. Well just ignore everything they said because I will be able to give you a much better offer.”
“Really. Well they offered a 70% discount. So what are you offering?”
“Oh, we don’t need to talk numbers now. Trust me. I’m a salesman.”
“Yeah, well I’m a beancounter so I am going to talk numbers. They said 70% off, you’re telling me you’ll better that. So you’ve got to be offering at least 71% off – or am I missing something. Your margins must be phenomenal if you can still make any kind of profit on that.”
But it was like trying to reason with the BT voice automated response system – very frustrating and entirely pointless. So I gave up, took him to the dressing room and then left him to get on with his drawing.
After an hour or so sitting at my dining room table, Mr Shiny Shoes declared he had finished and triumphantly showed me his design. Entirely as predicted, and demonstrating about as much imagination as a piece of mouldy cheese, it was full height cupboards along the back and a row of drawers along one wall. Right. Great. What do I do with the 18m² of floor space you completely failed to make use of?
Then he told me how much it would cost.
“Er, haven’t you forgotten to add the discount into that?”
“No. Trust me this is a bargain offer. You wont get such a bespoke, unique, creative, high quality design for this price anywhere else. And this is the best price I can give you. I’m not going to be phoning you in a few days with a better price. I don’t like playing that kind of game with people.”
Yeah, well. You’re kitting out my dressing room, not the bedrooms of Buckingham Palace. So thanks very much; I’ll be in touch. Not.
No wonder he’s driving around in a BMW convertible.
And surprise surprise, after a few days of my wall of silence, the inevitable phone call came. “I don’t normally do this, but this is such a unique project, I’ve managed to persuade Head Office to let me give you an extra discount……”
That’ll be another DIY job still on the list then….