How To Work With an Interior Designer

I love my job – I really do. But I often think that clients assume interior designers possess some sort of paranormal abilities beyond our innate color sense and our desire for only the finest of everything. I think clients believe we can somehow magically “divine” their level of taste and style – heck, even their favorite color!

iamreadingyourmindAt our initial meeting with potential design clients, my business partner and I typically spend an hour or two just visiting with them, getting a feel for their taste level and trying to get a gauge on their expectations, desires and – most importantly – budget. You cannot believe how many times we go through a conversation like this:

Me: “So, if you had to describe your design style in one word, would you say you are traditional, transitional or contemporary?”

Potential client: “I don’t know – that’s what I need you for…”

Me: “Well, would you rather live with The Brady Bunch, The Addams Family or with one of the Modern Families?”

PC: “I don’t like any of those shows.”

Aurgh. And if that type of potential client is challenging, these guys are even worse:

Me: “You seem to have a lot of clean-lined furniture already; would you say you like modern things?”

PC (who has a room full of Crate and Barrel-ish furniture): “Sigh – I don’t know. I guess you could say I am sorta’ Arts and Crafts with a little Art Deco thrown in – I like it all.”

Me: “So then it’s safe to say you have more eclectic taste?”

PC: “No, I definitely do NOT like anything too Shabby Chic-y.” 

What the heck? At this point, I usually shove a pen in my eye so I have en excuse to leave the meeting. I mean, I get it. People hire me – hire interior designers – because we are educated in design, have often trained in several disciplines as a result and just (generally) have the oh-so-elusive “good taste.” And that is OK. But sometimes I feel like clients expect some sort of mystical intervention when they hire us – I mean, we have to have something to work with, right?

No one would go to a doctor and have this conversation:

Doctor: “So, tell me why you are here today. Do you have a specific pain? Nausea? Headaches – anything?”

Patient: “I just don’t feel right.”

Doctor: “Well, can you share some of your symptoms with me?”

Patient: “I don’t know. That’s why I came here. Make me better”

In a way, interior designers ARE a lot like doctors – we can “diagnose” what’s wrong with a room, suggest a “course of treatment” and “prescribe the medicine or therapy that will make everything better.” But, please – you gotta’ at least meet us in the middle. Do not FEAR us – we are on “your side.” Again, to use the doctor analogy, you would never NOT tell a doctor you were suffering from blinding headaches for fear he would be mad, am I right? No. Like doctors, interior designers need all the info you have UP FRONT so we can work effectively and efficiently to help you realize your dream spaces. Sometimes it is as simple as just telling us your favorite color…

Mind reader cartoonSo please, continue to use interior designers – I love the work! – but help us help you. We can help you enjoy your homes and offices more. We can make your environment great. It may sound a bit arrogant but it’s true:  Interior designers make the world a more beautiful place. We do – but we need your help and input to do it.

Think of us as your best friend, but with taste. Tell us everything, step back and leave the rest to us… We’ll make you happy. Promise.  


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