A couple of weeks ago I was having breakfast with some amazing women discussing our businesses/career paths and somewhere in that discussion we started talking about how when one’s business starts growing the little things they used to enjoy doing within the company slowly start taking a back seat. Reason always being that one doesn’t have enough time anymore. As we were all nodding trying to think of aspects of our business/careers that fit within this scope one of the women, my cousin and one of my biggest supporters, looks me straight in the eyes and says;
“Jordan, you’re culprit number one because you used to love doing your askTID sessions yet when’s the last time you’ve done one?”
“You see, guilty as charged.”
Then she takes a bite of her eggs and continues enjoying her meal as if she hadn’t just slapped some sense into me.
She was right though, I hadn’t done a session for 5 whole months and I should be ashamed of myself. For those of you who dont know what askTID is, it simply means ASK THE INTERIOR DECORATOR. It is 24 hours of me availing myself online, offering FREE INTERIOR DESIGN AND DECOR ADVICE. Whether one is having a hard time choosing a paint colour, or they don’t know where to find furniture or fabrics, or they just need help figuring out how to arrange their space, I am there to help them out. Check out the last sessions HERE.
To understand why having not conducted these sessions made me ASHAMED, you’d need to first understand why I do what I do (bare with me now). One of the reasons why I chose my career path as an interior stylist is because I place so much value on having a place to call home. I strongly believe that no matter how big or small, everyone needs at least four walls that they can call their own. Four walls that are a reflection of who they are! It’s therefore my life’s mission to help everyone achieve this either through my styling services or this blog. I will be honest, that sometimes I don’t feel like this blog is sufficient in helping people get absolute advice as it isn’t really as personalised to all of your individual needs and thus my askTID sessions. Now do you understand why not having done them in so long makes me feel so ashamed? It’s because I feel like I’m not being true to my mission of helping all of y’all turn your houses into homes.
So with that said and done, I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me (I sound like an unfaithful spouse who’s seen the error of their ways) and to prove I’m genuinely sorry I come bearing a gift like no other, the gift of knowledge. Knowledge of how to get the most out of any interior designer/decorator/stylist you may work with. I usually tell all my clients that it’s extremely important for the two of us to understand that we will be venturing into a very intimate relationship where the client has to open up their life-and dreams-to interpretation. Remember that when you hire a designer, especially for your home, you are entrusting them with your haven.
I have therefore prepared a cheat-sheet of the 7 best ways to get the most out of your designer, and if you follow ever single one I promise you will not only enjoy the journey but also guarantee a spectacular destination, that of your dream interiors.
1. BE OPEN ABOUT YOUR BUDGET (OR AT LEAST HAVE A BALL PARK FIGURE)
Before I begin working on a client’s project I always have to know what their budget is because, as we are all aware, furniture and decor items aren’t like salt and flour that have a standard price whatever store you go to. A sofa can be 50,000/- another 100,000/- and there are those that are even 1000,000/- (I kid you not) So I need to know what you’re willing to spend and whether it is practical for the look you want us to achieve. Now the problem with most people is that at this stage their ego kicks in and they think that I am going to judge the budget they tell me. Some think that I will either buy overpriced items if they give me a high budget so they would rather go low or give me a low budget so I suffer looking for sofas that look like they are worth 1,000,000/- but cost 10,000/-. This is not the best way to approach this question as the designer is working for YOUR interest and complete honesty is the only option.
Now there are those who aren’t trying to “trick” the designer and haven’t honestly thought about the budget. The best thing isn’t to let the designer come up with a concept and then a budget because most likely it’ll end up being higher than you thought and it’ll mean that the projects time wasted with the designer having to go back to the drawing board. I would advice you to go and look at your finances and see what you can put aside for the project and present that to the designer. If you feel like you don’t have enough you need to remember that projects can be done in phases. I’ve done that numerous times with some of my clients especially those moving from a rental to a house they’ve just build. They usually want a complete change of everything but because construction can drain ones finances we usually break my services into three parts:
- flooring (walll to wall carpeting), walls (paitning and or wallpaper) and lighting (scones, chanderliers etc)
- furniture (sofas, tables, dining seta, consoles, beds, bedside tables etc)
- accessories (table lamps, artwork, etc)
Yes the ideal situation would be to do a space at once but if your budget doesn’t permit you, you could always break it down. So the lesson to be learnt here is that you should be open and honest with your designer about your finances that way you can come up with a plan that suits everyone involved and does not affect the final look of the space.
2. HAVE A VISION BUT ALLOW THE DESIGNER TO WORK
There is a difference between inspiration and copying. The worst interiors are usually created where there was no clear UNIQUE vision and this usually happens when a client insists on copying a whole space he/she has seen without taking into consideration factors such as size, shape, light and most of all that the other space isn’t a reflection of who they are. To better understand what I mean lets compare a space with life in general, you may be inspired by let’s say Oprah but that doesn’t mean you’ll search the world for a tall man named Steadman to be your partner and a lady named Gale to be your bestfriend and that you’ll give away free cars to people and start schools in South Africa and put your face on the cover of a magazine (you get the point). Yes you may dream to have a life like hers but wouldn’t you rather be inspired by the fact that she has loved ones who are always there for her, she’s charitable and she’s successful and use those elements to create your own legacy.
So where was I going with this again? Oh…yes…interiors.
You dont want to live in someone else’s space, now do you? You want a space that tells your story and your unique journey in this crazy thing we call life.
So when you meet with your designer you’re allowed to tell them of all the brilliant spaces that you love and if they are good at what they do, they will pick out the type of vibe and feel that you are looking for and translate that into your space and if you’re a good client you’ll let them.
Oh and heres a little trick I use with my clients to help them with their vision. Dont just look for inspiration in other people’s spaces (be it your friends, your favourite hotel or magazines) look for it in nature and fashion. Those two are a brilliant source for inspiration especially for colour schemes. I’ve had clients who tell me they love red and when you ask to see their wardrobe you notice they have nothing red. On asking then why they say they cant stand to see red for a long period of time. Now that would definitely mean that red wouldn’t be an option in their home. Just because they had seen an image of a red room in a magazine and believed it would work for them they had forgotten that in there home they’d have to see it all the time. I hope you’re getting my point now, you need to analyse all your points of inspiration critically to see if it is really a representation of who you are and that’s where having an designer is very helpful.
3. PLEASE, I BEG YOU, DO TRUST YOUR DESIGNER
As we’ve established this is a relationship and like any fruitful relationship this one will need trust from both parties. Remember that you are hiring a professional with skills and know-how that they gained from their education and from many years of practicing the craft. Just as you trust a doctor and understand that self-medication isn’t the most effective way to treat yourself you should trust your designer and not just self-design after you’ve hired them. You know the expression too many cooks spoil the broth, well that’s the case when you decide to not trust your designer and continuously question every step they make. As with any relationship you have to be sure about the person before you commit, so ask all the questions, do all your research and when you finally settle do so completely trusting your decision.
Here’s what you should always keep in mind:
SOMETIMES WE KNOW YOU BETTER THAN YOU KNOW YOURSELF: Case in point my experience with my client who liked red but really couldn’t stand seeing it all the time and it was my probing and analysis of her true tastes that enabled her to realize that she wouldn’t stand the colour in her home.
WE THINK AHEAD: When you’re looking at a piece of furniture as an interesting piece based on its design your designer has gone ten steps further by taking into consideration the whole space and whether or not its texture works, if it’s proportional, how its colour will translate at all points of the day dependent on the amount of light in the room, how durable its fabric is etc. So trust us when we tell you that it wont/will work with the overall scheme/space.
4. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
Let’s say you’re trying to trust the designer but you feel that the direction they are going isn’t for you. what I would advice you to do is communicate your fears and have a dialogue about what exactly you don’t like and what you would rather have. Yes, you may be less knowledgable in the field but it is your home after all and you do have the right to speak out but do so understanding that what they are trying to achieve because sometimes you may be blinded by the process when the end goal is exactly what you want.
With that said, the earlier you give feedback, the easier it will be to make changes. Particularly, if it’s given before purchases have been made. Yes, purchases can be returned or just remain unused, but that privilege may come with an extra fee. As with all relationships communication is key and the only way to ensure that your project comes to fruition is to be open and honest through the whole process.
Let the record show that communication isn’t always verbal so be sure to always carefully read all your designers written information be it a text message or email because I’ve had clients who didn’t bother to properly read through a document and went ahead and gave approval then later denied that the information wasn’t relayed to them. The problem with that is that there will be distrust between both parties and the project will unnecessarily be disrupted. So please do take ALL communication with your designer seriously.
Oh and before I forget, please be sure to discuss your plans with your significant other or whoever else has an opinion on the space, on what your combined vision looks like. Don’t expect the designer to always be able to decipher if you disagree with your partner and have different visions for the space. If you can’t come up with a middle ground then you should have a meeting with the designer when all are present and let her/him help you find one. Think of them as your design counsellor.
5. ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE SURPRISED
This is easy to do if you trust your designer and if you truly believe in their skills. Remember that you’ve hired them because you wouldn’t be able to achieve what they can and with that in mind you should be willing to let the end result surprise you, in a good way of course. So don’t pigeonhole your designer. Give them your taste and preferences and then let their creativity shine. Pretend your a bride who’s groom is going to surprise them about their honeymoon destination, yes you can give your preferences in regards to the location ie that you want the beach or you want the tropics, but after that you should be willing to be pleasantly surprised about where you’ll end up going.
6. DO BE PATIENT
A simple styling job can take a week whereas other larger projects can take months or years to complete, but no matter what your timeline is, it is paramount that you are patient. Timelines depend on three factors, the scale of your project, how quick the client makes decisions and how fast payments are made. You can’t sit on a quotation for an item that would take weeks to make and when you are ready to pay expect it to take days.
It is important for your designer to keep you well informed with all the lead times of purchases, production and installation and when you’re armed with this information all you have to do is sit back and relax and enjoy the journey.
Oh and I dont know how to break this to you, but no project is ‘bulletproof’, not even yours my dear. Things always go wrong but please be patience when they do and and trust that your designer will find a way to solve it, it is their job after all.
7. RESPECT THE INTERIOR DESIGNER’S PRIVATE LIFE
Please, please, please, on behalf of all my peers I beg of you to respect normal business hours. Yes you may feel like you have a close relationship with your designer but you have to respect that they do have a life outside your project and just as you need some R&R from job so do they. So don’t be calling your designer at ungodly hours or whatever days they informed you they dont work, instead be sure to write them a text message or email and they’ll get back to you.
So there you have it 7 ways to get the most out of your interior designer/decorator/stylist. Do you agree with me or are there points you think that don’t apply? Do you think we as designers also need rules to abide to and if so what are they? Let’s make this an open dialogue because the only way to foster good relationships between designers and their clients is to be open and honest about what both sides want. I’d therefore love to hear from you, whether you’re the client or a designer, on what rules help both parties out, so please leave a COMMENT BELOW and lets get talking.
If you loved this post and wouldn’t want to miss out on any more then be sure to SUBSCRIBE BELOW to get notifications when I put up another riveting/entertaining/magnificent post.
Till next time be sure to Be Inspired…Be you!