You might think from the title of this post that I'm starting an advice column. But I'm not.
Last week, Houzz.com emailed me about a discussion forum on its pro-to-pro page asking: What is your biggest challenge as an interior designer? The discussion forum was filled with comments like many I had expressed in a former post, "Don't Hire Me If . . ." A lot of the designers posted about their frustrations dealing with clients: for example, issues dealing with our fee structures; unreasonable expectations about how long a design project can take; etc.
It's good to have these forums where designers can take comfort in knowing their experiences are shared. But it made me think, why just share our challenges? Why not share our triumphs too? What makes a design project gratifying, the relationship with the client rewarding and the outcome grand?
I have found that my best projects are for clients who enjoy and collaborate in the design process. Their intuition and eye for design is sharp, but they don't have the time, or access to tradespeople and vendors, or complete confidence in their own decision-making to do the project entirely on their own. In today's post and some in the future, I thought I'd share some projects in which my relationship with the clients have made the experience rewarding and the outcome impactful.
The living room above is the most popular image from my portfolio on Houzz. And it's one of my oldest projects. The clients were a couple, both employed full-time, with two children. When they hired me, they had worked with a builder to customize the design of their house and had begun furnishing it. But because of work schedules, commuting, and their children's activities, they lacked the time to execute their vision.
I presented alternative furniture plans for several rooms. Once we decided on the plans that worked best, we collaborated on the furniture and finishes. For the living room above, I took the client to showrooms in the Boston Design Center that I thought would best complete the design and suit her and her husband's tastes. I suggested the grasscloth wallpaper set in a checkerboard motif for the walls and the day-beds in lieu of formal sofas. My client picked out the rug and some of the accessories on her own. The fabrics for the sofas, pillows and draperies were from those we culled at the Design Center.
Judging from the response to this image on Houzz and elsewhere, this living room was a success. When I work with a client who is comfortable with the design process and engaged in a collaborative solution, trust builds, our relationship blossoms and the experience yields a positive result.