About Free Stuff and My Character

Last week someone left a comment about me on another blog along the lines of this:
 (I may be paraphrasing as the comment was deleted by my friend before I had a chance to see it.)

“I’d be careful about promoting DM. She gets an awful lot of stuff “leftover from another job”. Because material houses do not give away their product, that means that the job it was ordered for paid for the excess. I wonder how happy they would be to find the material they paid for going in this chick’s house.

I’m not one to promote negativity, so I could have just chosen to ignore this comment, but as I feel it defames the character of my company, I felt I had to address it.  First of all, my father and I run an honorable company and in no way do we take advantage of our clients.  In the history of this blog, I believe I have used leftover materials twice- my shower tile and my black and white goddesses pillow. 

Design Manifest is a full service design-build company.  This means we manage every aspect of the renovation project for our clients- design, material ordering, installation and waste removal.  For tile, the industry standard is to order 10% extra to allow for breakage, irregularity and tile cuts.  Sometimes we run out and order more tile (at OUR expense) and sometimes we have extra leftover.  Tile excess is offered to our clients, but many do not want to store random small quantities in their basement.

(UPDATE:  Just wanted to mention we always leave clients with at least one box of tiles for repairs plus grout color.  Grout is typically the most important thing you will need after a tile project.)

In the case of my shower tile, it came from a kitchen we installed 5-6 years ago.  There wouldn’t have even been enough to do a full shower, but since mine has a window in it, we lucked out.  I don’t think my client would be upset to learn that her waste went into my home.  Actually I thought it was pretty cool I was able to recycle a product that would have otherwise went into a landfill.

I pieced together scraps of fabric waste to make this pillow

What upsets me, more than just a single mean comment, is the thought that more of you might think I’m “freeloading” off of my clients.  We absolutely love our clients, and I’m pretty sure they love us too.  Many read my blog and enjoy following along in the Cottage process.  (Hi!)

The fact of the matter is, I do enjoy certain privileges and advantages by working in the construction industry.  I have my own carpenters to do all of my labor.  My subs (plumbing, electrical, HVAC) did my work at half the retail rate as a favor to us.  (We give them A LOT of business.)  In essence, my cottage is a little showroom for us.  I understand why some people may be jealous of this, but I certainly hope no one thinks I’m doing something wrong.  I think we all have certain benefits in our own industries.  Hell Bloggers get a ton of product for free just to talk about them.

My niece, Eliana, feels upset and so do I

Anyway, I don’t want to drag this out or defend myself any further.  I know putting myself out there and being really honest opens me up to being judged.  It hurts, I’m not gonna lie, part of me wants to stop sharing at all.   But I aint gonna let those haters win.  Back to work.  And back to happy tomorrow on the blog.

Thanks for listening.

  1. Catching up on your blog and just read this. That was incredibly low. It is cruel to engage in that behavior, the result of it is they force someone else to justify the way they go about things. The fact that you even had to explain yourself is b.s. Shame on them. I think you are fantastic.

  2. how ‘mean girls-ish’ for someone else to talk smack on you. You have a great blog and do great work. PS- LOVE that rug in your bathroom….mind if I ask where it’s from?

  3. caitlin

    So sorry to hear about someone bad mouthing you. It’s amazing what people will say when they can hide behind their computer. You are insanely talented and that person was just jealous of your eye for design! Speaking of your knack… do you mind sharing where the bathroom rug is from? The colors are amazing!! xoxo

  4. julie

    Hi Naomi
    Seriously..just ignore the negativity…people will always see the shady side of things because that is how they think…the positive and good people are not remotely interested in how or why you have used certain materials(that is your business alone and nobody else s!), but are excited to see the results of your creative talent in your lovely new home.Do not let this person spoil what is surely a wonderful experience for you..and for those of us waiting for the updates and new posts! Your blog is lovely…carry on exactly as you were!
    Jules, Dubai, UAE

  5. Ugh – why do people leave negative comments like that when they don’t really know the story? I love you blog and think you do fantastic work. Hang in there!

  6. everyone already said what i wanted to, but i just wanted to echo them to throw my voice in the pot – i cant believe someone would be so rude and jealous! im envious of you in a GOOD WAY – as in, good for you that you work in a creative environment and can use your contacts and collaborators to your advantage. id do the same if i were you!

    i personally have loved following your journey and would never want you to stop sharing!

  7. yikes – that’s awful/sad that someone felt the need to put you down when they obviously didn’t know the whole story! plus, why would you brag about stealing stuff on the internet for all to see? keep doing your thing – your work is beautiful and speaks for itself!! plus the fact, pretty much everyone gets some sort of “perk” from their work – doesn’t mean you are a theif! love your stuff! 🙂

  8. I’m a day late, but hopefully not a dollar short… I love that you have obvious integrity, professionalism, and wisdom (and great style!), but I hate that someone made you question that. When you first mentioned that you got the tile from another job, I thought, ‘how smart! what a clever way to use up waste!’ Never once did I think you had obtained it in a sneaky way.

    A few years ago, when we had our yard remodeled, we ordered stone from a local quarry. The amount we ordered was a rough amount, as we needed extra for spoilage, and the quarry worked with us to determine what we would need for our project. When they delivered the stone, we got twice what we needed. Twice! After our project was done, we had a massive pile of rocks just sitting there. The stone company surely wasn’t about to take it back (they had decided on the quantity after all, not to mention the special truck they had used to deliver it), so our landscapers asked if they could take it and use it on a personal project. We happily donated them our extra material. We benefitted by not having to figure out where to put the stone, and they benefitted by getting a unique product that they didn’t work with every day. For that commenter to assume that you hadn’t asked, and that the homeowners would have been upset just proves how inexperienced and ill-mannered they are.

    If I were in your area, not only would I want you to design something for me, I’d want to work FOR you. You and your team are obviously amazing. Never let another negative idiot shake that knowledge. xoxo

  9. so proud of your response…some people are just jealous and unhappy and get a kick of putting other’s down…no worries we ain’t buying it

  10. Haters are always gonna hate. It’s just an affirmation that you’re awesome, because that reader’s comment came from jealousy- nothing else. Keep on keepin’ on and try to brush it off!

  11. If you have a hater, then you have arrived!!! As my grandmother would say, just the cream always rises to the top…you my dear have nothing to apologize for!

  12. If you have haters, you’re doing something right.

    Like Kat Williams once said, Live your damn life and get your hustle on and understand that people are going to hate you regardless of what you do.

    If there are any haters in here right now who don’t have anybody to hate on, then feel free to hate on me.

  13. being bold enough and kind enough to share design tips and advice online opens you up to everyone.

    including people who have dark hearts.

    It hurts. I am so sorry!

    But I am thrilled that you regularly share your talents with us. I am glad you put yourself out there. You inspire us. Thank you!

  14. I haven’t read the other comments so I’m probably repeating them but please, please don’t stop sharing! Jealousy is an ugly thing and I feel sorry for those who are so insecure that they stoop so low. Who wouldn’t use leftover tile?! Good for you!! I’m loving every word about your cottage and can’t wait for the decorating!

  15. The green monster strikes again. Don’t worry about it. Those of us who read your blog daily can easily tell your character and know that your family ran company is an honorable one. I feel you’re completely in the right by not promoting the negativity, but simply setting the record straight.


  16. The green monster strikes again. Don’t worry about it. Those of us who read your blog daily can easily tell your character and know that your family ran company is an honorable one. I feel you’re completely in the right by not promoting the negativity, but simply setting the record straight.


  17. What an idiot to post a comment like that on your friends blog, like she is going to take head to her ignorant insight? Ha! Most clients are more than willing to pass on any extra tile they won’t use, whether it is for your own oersonal use or someone else’s., saves them space.

  18. Ignore the haters! Everyone in this industry knows you end up with scraps and lots of half broken bits which as a person with vision you can turn into something beautiful. We also work really hard for lots of high strung people who do not fully appreciate the follow through involved to create a home.

    Enjoy the perks!

  19. Hunny bun ignore that BS! You are the greatest. I love you dearly!

  20. Good or bad, people love to fill in the blanks in their own heads, and aren’t afraid to share their own “truths.” We all do it from time to time. Unfortunately for said commenter, this one isn’t the case and MAN she be lookin si-lly.

    Coincidentally, I learned something about your industry today, so you made some people smarter by addressing it. Play on, playa! ox

  21. A perfect response!! Nothing is lamer than passive aggressive Internet comments. If someone has a problem, bring it up with THAT PERSON. It’s really quite simple. Keep your head held high — you’re a great business person and I don’t think that anyone thought otherwise! 🙂

  22. You are absolutely right! Love the response and that hater doesn’t need to read your blog.

  23. great job..it needs a lot of more decorations that would really look good..i love those pillows, its so cute specially the color..

    kitchen mixer

  24. HATERS GON HATE GIRL! For sure don’t let that comment get you down… and you’re super blessed to get so many perks but that’s because you and your father run a RESPECTABLE business!! I beg you to not stop sharing on the cottage progress – it’s one of my highlights of the day!! xoxo

  25. Totally needed to be addressed. And you did so perfectly! I don’t think anyone who matters thinks what that commenter does.
    No designer could order intentionally more than needed to the extent that it would benefit them in anyway. Just as no client would not notice these things.
    Your clients love you, your followers love you, your colleagues love you. Don’t fret!
    Though it is so discouraging to hear even one negative voice, and I can so understand why this would weigh heavy on your heart. ESPECIALLY when it is so untrue and such a defamation of character.


  26. Lindsay

    Perfect response! I think the comment clearly came from a place of ignorance (and probably a little jealousy too). You’re doing an amazing job, keep on doing it! xx

  27. rebecca

    I would be so upset by this comment too, in part because the comment was not questioning your integrity, but downright attacking it based on naive assumptions. That hurts. Your response is so collected, professional and human. Though I rarely ever comment, I adore your blog and your amazing style – I would be so sad if you stopped sharing! Your blog is set apart by your willingness to show your ‘mess’ and if I lived on the East Coast, I would be dying to hire your company. Much love.

  28. That comment is acid and completely uncalled for. Hate when that happens. I for one admire the fact that you share so openly on your blog, I think your response to the comment was perfect, and I believe you deserve those excess tiles. I don’t think there is even an ounce of unethical practice here and all the supportive comments back up that theory. Chin up Nay, you’re doing everything right. Xx

  29. Well said, Naomi! Chin up and keep doing what you do best. 🙂 There will ALWAYS be haters, no matter what you do in life. Here’s to the good guys!
    xo Heidi

  30. Amen, sister. I think the key lesson for the hater is that (a) it’s standard practice to order extra, and (b) unused product is non-refundable. Of course you should find a way to recycle waste if the clients don’t want it!

    Obviously most people who read/comment on your blog are on your side…I kind of hope that your friend links to this post so the original hater can correct some of his/her ignorance.

  31. Lindsay

    Ugh how annoying! Anyone in the industry or worked on a home knows there is always excess… Why throw out something, or hang onto excess materials and not use them? And how sneaky if you to steal it and then blog about it! Ha ha… Good luck. Shower is beautiful!

  32. You already know how I feel about this- some people just have nothing better to do than throw negativity and hate- at the end of the day, it does nothing more than serve as evidence for their own unhappiness. So sorry this happened…I think your response to it is perfect- xoxo

  33. Erin

    Really, this whole ordeal makes me feel a little ragey. You are one of the most honest, generous, kind designers I know. You are a person of integrity. The commenter, obviously, is not.

  34. Not to mention all of the hours you don’t bill clients to ensure that their projects are successful.

    Someone’s ignorance is showing. Good for you for pointing out the differences and why professional designers are not freeloaders.

  35. Great response!! I think the mean comment says more about the person who wrote it than it does about you!! You are doing great work, keep it up!!

  36. You guys are amazing. Thank you, thank you. thank you! Having my integrity challenged is so upsetting, but having your support helps me forget about it.

  37. Kristen

    You know you’re doing well when you start getting a few haters. Don’t let it bother you. At least your home is worth being jealous of!

  38. Ashley

    Your response, though unnecessary for those of us who know you, was dignified and gracious. Jealousy is an ugly, ugly thing that you shouldn’t think twice about.

  39. The blogosphere can be nasty – reason I basically left it for 4 years. Don’t let the haters silence you for even a minute. The world needs more beauty like the kind you bring. Look forward to more gorgeous posts!

  40. I love that they didn’t even have the guts to actually slander you on your *own* blog…classy. But I’m with all the other ladies, it never even crossed my mind for a second that you would *ever* do anything untoward/dishonest with your clients…you always speak about them lovingly and build great relationships so I already would’ve known that comment was full of it (c; Unfortunately, not everyone can keep their um, “ignorance” to themselves…

  41. I actually think it’s very cool, both for you and the environment, that materials get recycled. And if I was your customer I would be happy to know that the tile is making someone happy instead of being left in a box in the garage or in a locker room.

  42. Ugh. I think one of the downsides of design blogs is that everyone feels like an expert, when they are not. As a relatively new designer who dove right without a mentor/internships etc, it has been interesting to learnt he ethical ins and outs of this business. CLEARLY you are on the up and up and have done no wrong! Sorry that you have to deal with this ignorance.


  43. Haters gonna hate. I never would have considered the idea that you would do such a thing! I think it was a great idea to address it here just in case some readers don’t understand the process. Hopefully that reader is in that case and now understands and offers up an apology.

  44. Katie

    I’ve been reading for awhile (and wish you lived closer to me next time I wanted to re-do my place!) but thought this would be a good time to send positive vibes your way. My guess is the poster has never been involved in a construction project or even a creative project for that matter, because then they would understand that you always buy a little more than you need for “slop” factor. Shame on them for making assumptions without getting the whole story, and bravo to you for handling it well, explaining it up front right away. Keep it up- LOVE your cottage so far! 🙂

  45. Honestly, some people need to get a life. I would have been really annoyed by that too. I think your response is very professional. Keep your chin up!

  46. I love your style and your blog is a daily inspiration for me. Chin up Naomi, because you put amazingness in this world and there is no need to let those who don’t understand get in the way. Thanks, Rebecca

  47. Jaime

    Wow, someone was really hurting or in a sad place. Great response and even educational for those who don’t know that side. Our tiny kitchen floor was given to us by a contractor…to funny. Love your site!

  48. Sara

    Great response Naomi!

  49. The green-eyed monster rears its ugly head. Your response was 100% correct. You shouldn’t let anyone impugn your character. Keep on keepin on.

  50. That statement was just pure ignorance (anyone who knows an ounce about construction or design knows that happens, its not taking advantage nor is it wrong) or jealousy. I hope you can move past that, because there are TONS of us in the blogland that tune in for every post and cant wait to see your next move. We cheer you on. Negative comments just means you’re popular. Celebrity-affect. Let the haters hate, but dont quit doing what you are doing. We all love it

  51. For every happy and fulfilled person in this world there are tons of haters. You just have to keep your path and enjoy it. Those who are intelligent won’t listen to jealous others.
    You just be you, honest and creative!!

  52. Hahaha, I have yards, and yards, and yards…did I mention yards of fabric that a designer friend of mine gave me. They were leftover from jobs that she did. It can’t be returned, and those clients are not the kind to sew or diy.

  53. As they say “haters gonna hate”. Who wouldn’t use perks offered to them as an advantage. And like you said, your cottage is a great place to show off your company’s skills and gain more business! I get perks in my job too, discontinued samples on the cheap, flowers left from a job, stuff at 60% off retail, connections! This is our life and we should use it to the fullest. While being honest and with integrity of course. Great way that you addressed this!

  54. Love your work and absolutely appreciate you not contributing to the horrific landfill problem. We had our bathroom remodeled and were asked if we wanted left-over tile, too. It is so, so common to have extras. I say, put them to good use! Ignore the haters! Also, please move to Indianapolis and give me ideas for our unfinished 3rd floor… :o)

  55. This response is perfect. You are 100% correct, your clients would be happy to hear that their waste is going to good use. I’m so excited for you for your new home and I’m sorry to hear that not everyone feels the same way.

  56. Andrea

    Oooh. Jealousy ain’t pretty. Hang in there. Love your work.

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