Red Hot!

Doctor in the House

What: Interior design in a jiffy
Who: Ellen Edwards of Décor Doctors
Where: Wake Forest, North Carolina
When: Started in 1999

Interior decorating projects usually take weeks to complete, but Ellen Edwards' company gives clients' homes and offices facelifts in just one week. By integrating existing furniture and accessories with new pieces, dull rooms are revived in just days.

During the initial free consultation, photos are taken of every room in need of a makeover. Edwards and fellow designer Elizabeth Carrasco (her only employee) then spend Monday through Thursday shopping for their one exclusive client per week, using the pictures they've taken as a guide. Fridays are reserved for the makeover.

A former designer for furniture retailer Ethan Allen, Edwards, 55, and Carrasco take on projects dressed in medical scrubs (an idea Edwards took from her husband, who is in medical sales). A branding strategy, to be sure, but the uniforms also allow them to remain comfortable as they lift heavy furniture, place objects d'art and hang paintings.

"Our whole premise is 'Anything you don't like comes out that night,'" says Edwards, who does two Friday night walk-throughs of redecorated rooms with clients-one to show them the work, and the other to reveal price tags for each piece added to the existing décor.

Designing on a budget is no problem; Edwards has worked on projects with budgets ranging from $5,000 to $42,000. With sales estimated to reach $250,000 this year, it's become a very attractive business.

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This article was originally published in the August 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Red Hot!.

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