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How to Get the Most Out of Working With a Designer

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to work with an interior designer (or you're at least considering it)!

It's one of the smartest moves you can make to maximize your budget, avoid mistakes, and reduce the amount of time that you have to spend in furnishing or renovating your home. (And we all need more time in our day, right?)

As designers, we do a lot of the heavy lifting to understand your design aesthetic (or help you discover it!) and create a design that you love. But since it’s your home that we’re talking about, you’ll want to make sure that you take an active role too. This doesn't necessarily mean that you're scouring the internet for the perfect shower tile, but rather, you're an active participant in sharing your thoughts and making decisions. Here are my tips on getting the most from your relationship with your designer:

1. Be candid about your investment amount.

I get it – plush velvets, down-filled pillows, and serene color palettes are soooo much sexier than spreadsheets. But one of the key pieces of information that factors into your design is the amount that you’re willing and able to invest. I promise you that we are NOT salivating at the thought of spending up every last penny you have ....

Instead, if we know what your investment amount is upfront, it helps us to design to the highest quality possible.

2. Ask for help with figuring out what's "reasonable."

If you don’t know exactly what your investment amount should be, we can help you to figure that out! Often, people aren’t used to purchasing a whole room’s worth of furniture, window treatments, art, and accessories, so they don’t know what to expect.

I start projects with an investment guide that gives relative ranges for projects in a “Good / Better / Best” format. I talk through this with my clients and we develop an investment amount that will meet both the financial and aesthetic components of your project. It's important for us to establish this at onset of the project so that again, we're designing within the parameters and selecting options that are within your investment range.

A page from our Investment Guide
A page from our Investment Guide
3. Share what you love.

Good designers start their projects with a questionnaire about your design preferences. Honing in on a certain aesthetic or two is a great place to start. Not sure what your style is called? That’s ok – even if you can find rooms that you like and show them to us, we can help you to articulate what style that room reflects.

Think about more granular things too – want to make sure that your family room incorporates olive green and a mid century modern style? Make sure you tell your designer. Want everything in your new bathroom in a matte black or brushed brass finish? Make sure you tell your designer. Crushing on a wallpaper that you’d love to incorporate? Make sure you tell your designer. You get the picture – the more feedback that you share, the more I can curate a look that you love at first sight.

4. And don’t forget to tell us what you can’t stand!

Again, a good designer will have a process to ask you about aesthetic elements that you don’t want to have used in your design. Don’t hold back! Think about styles, colors, patterns, and even finishes that you don’t want to have used in your project so that your designer knows that upfront. There’s nothing worse than presenting a design with purple, only to find out that a client has a passionate distaste for that color but forgot to mention it.

5. Keep an open mind.

When we're ready to present their design concept to you, take it all in with an open mind. I’m not suggesting that you have to accept everything carte blanche, but we will put in some pieces that may be different than what you’re used to! (After all, you do want a fresh eye on your space, right?)

I had a lovely client who told me that she needed time to “sit with” the deep teal media credenza that I had incorporated into her design. (After all, she’d never ordered a teal piece of furniture before!)

A few weeks later, she called me excitedly to tell me that she decided to go with it, and when it arrived, she was thrilled!

Don’t be afraid to stretch a bit – even if you ultimately decide against it, it’s still fun to open your eyes to different possibilities!

6. Be decisive first, then patient.

The design industry (and construction for that matter) has been awash in delays, backorders, and shipping problems. While we have unprecedented demand for our services because everyone has been "stuck" in their homes and wants change! On the other hand, the global supply chain has been impacted by the pandemic, by freak storms, and (who would’ve thought?) a giant cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal.

All this to say two things:

  • As you’re reviewing selections from your designer, be prepared to make decisions on what’s a go, and what needs to be tweaked. The longer that you wait to give the go-ahead to place orders, the higher the chance that something will be out of stock, or have a price increase.

  • From there, be patient as all of the parts are moved through the procurement process. Whether you’re doing the purchasing, or we're taking care of that for you, please remember that most furniture doesn't come with 2-day shipping. We keep you updated via our weekly status report, but please know that there are many things that are outside of our control and it's just as frustrating for us when delays happen. We want our clients to receive their items as soon as possible, and start living in their new spaces!

7. Include the decision makers (but not your entire network).

Your home's design is such a personal thing. We get into the nitty gritty about how you live. For example, during a recent bathroom renovation, we talked all about whether the family needed towel bars or hooks for their bath towels. Here's what that looked like:

- How many towels do you use per day?

- Where do you put them when you're showering?

- Where do you dry them after your shower? - Do you want to continue to dry them on a hook or would you rather a towel bar?

- Would you like to upgrade to a heated towel bar?

All this about how they use their towels! So, keep in mind that your design

is tailored exactly to you and how you want to live. If you get input (especially if it's unsolicited <wink wink>), please know that we are designing for you and your family. So what might sound like a great idea to cousin Edna may not work in your home for a variety of reasons. Size, scale, style, color, finish, texture and cost are some of the factors that go into each selection that we make for your project.

Even worse, if you reverse earlier decisions, you're likely to incur change order fees, project delays, and in many instances, will have to pay for the original item anyways (especially true with custom furnishings and window treatments).

Well-meaning people in your network may want to give you their two cents, but you are the one that is investing the time, energy, and money into your project. Be confident in owning your decisions!

8. Stop and smell the roses!

Don't forget to take some enjoyment from your project! You're making an investment in your home. You're not just buying furniture or renovating a bathroom - you're adding a place for your family to all be able to snuggle together on the new sectional while watching a Friday night movie, a bathroom suite where you have your very own space to get ready during those hectic Monday mornings, or a kitchen that has all the counterspace to roll out the dough for your famous strawberry rhubarb pie.

Your designer will guide you through the process, and help you to get the space that you've been dreaming about. It won't happen overnight, but with collaboration together, and it will happen.

Are you looking for a designer? I'd love to help you! It all starts with our complimentary Design Discovery Consultation. Don't put your dreams on hold for another day - reach out and schedule yours!

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