Decorating Emergencies – Yes, they are real and we’ve got you covered!

Dixie Carter, who plays Julia Sugarbaker in the CBS television show 'Designing Women', poses inside of a picture frame, California, 1987. (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

We always joke that interior decorating emergencies don’t exist – save for the ones we can handle. Like you move in with a significant other and your collective stuff clashes. Or you moved from a house in the suburbs to an apartment in the city and need to downsize – or vice versa. Or it’s so cold outside that your pipes burst and everything in your living room is destroyed. Design pickles of the fashion-police and disaster-recovery kinds are ones we can get you out of – we promise.

Grumpy Cat says, I've got 99 problems and apparently my interior design is every single one
Grumpy Cat weighs in on interior design emergencies

The truth is a big part of our job as designers is to handle tricky situations – so clients don’t have to. Every project is comprised of so many pieces that need to come together as well as people working behind the scenes to make it happen. Snafus come with the territory. And at every phase of a project.

That said, here’s a decorating emergencies that have happened to us in the past – and likely will happen again.

Gif of Karen and Jack gasping in surprise at Grace Adler Designs
Design emergency? OMG!


  • Tradesperson can’t come on the date he’s booked for because his wife is having a baby. This happy occasion calls for rescheduling! And that means new dates for this tradesperson – as well as all other trades that follow.
  • Inspection delays delay everything. With so much new construction happening in the Boston area, inspectors are busy folks.
Gif of Grace Adler of Grace Adler Designs expressing we all feel when an interior design problem happens.
Grace Adler of Grace Adler Designs is all of us when an design emergency happens.


  • A slab breaks en route. Now you can’t use that one or the other slabs selected for the project’s kitchen countertops. This has happened twice! And both times we’ve lucked into more attractive stone slabs to replace the original ones.
  • Renovations are mysterious things. Once the layers are peeled back, there could be unanticipated stuff that needs to be fixed or brought up to code. Older buildings have lots of surprises. Welcome to good old New England.
Gif of Julia Sugarbaker saying, That was a mistake
Julia Sugarbaker handles tricky design situations and then some!


  • A fabric we fall in love with for a project is discontinued. We always check stock and availability of fabrics before we show them to clients, so the heartbreak is ours alone.
  • An item arrives damaged, and it’s out of stock at the manufacturer. Lamps, mirrors, etageres, coffee tables are delicate things – and hopefully, immediately replaceable.
  • The wrong item is sent. Yes, there are humans putting together orders, and luckily they work quickly to right these wrongs.
  • Something we’ve ordered from overseas is being held up in customs for an indeterminate amount of time. Plus it’s the last item we need for the project. We prioritize ordering items that need to go across borders to insulate projects against this as much as possible.
  • Europe essentially closes down in August. We know this and factor August in when placing orders for things coming from abroad.
  • An item was supposed to ship overnight, but went regular ground service instead, turning an already tight schedule into an all-hands-on-deck situation. Thankfully, stars have aligned for us when this happened.


Gif of Grace Adler putting her head down on her desk in defeat
Keep calm and interior design project on!


The moral of the story is to stay calm when you have an interior design emergency. It’s our job to right the wrongs, schedule and reschedule, and basically keep track of everything so it all comes together. And that doesn’t stop after a project is finished. We’re also here to help clients keep things looking nice. No need to panic when you get a new puppy who likes to chew, or you have a party and on guest spills wine on the sofa and another guest “helps” out by placing a hot serving dish directly on your dining room table.


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