"Good clients are knowledgable.
Great clients are well informed."
Those are the words I gave to a potential client, one who had never used the services of a professional interior designer and was in the midst of interviewing several other designers for their job. So after the first meeting, I felt the need to provide them with some advice about their upcoming project.
• Be practical in all your choices including what and how you spend the dollars.
Great design does not equate with spending large sums of dollars although that is often the perception of my profession. My advice to each new client when deciding what to spend : Put greater dollars toward just a few things that are most important to the design, that make the strong visual statement and that make the space function as needed. Far less dollars can then be spent for the rest as fill in pieces. Just don't skimp on something that will forever show you did. And at the end of the day, if you follow that advice, you'll discover that the entire space will look like a million but cost far less.
• You need to have a definite plan before you start any work.
Our first meeting was about seeing your new space. And shooting from the hip is great to build a bunch of fresh ideas about what you may want from the project but at the end of the day, the work you are contemplating will be an investment of time and effort. So my advice: plotting and planning on paper reduces the chance for mistakes in time, in expectations and in dollars spent. Steve Chase, the internationally known Palm Springs designer said about his work, "I am more deliberate than spontaneous in my design." I totally agree. Making a plan is worth every cent you spend.
• Your designer needs to be your partner.
Another bit of advice: You are making a huge change in locations and environments. That alone is a lot of stress. The design professional you engage should make the process thoughtful, provide the needed counsel on critical decisions and has your best interest on the table. With the right design partner, you'll discover a sense of comfort in making the seemingly numerous decisions that lie ahead and that alone reduces anxiety. The best ROI will not be in how much money you spend for furnishings but in the designer you hire.
• And make this home fun.
A final bit of advice: This home should reflect the energy of the occupants and its guests. So have some fun with making this house a home. Encourage your designer to implement something unexpected, something that keeps the space lighthearted and brings a smile to every face that encounters the design.
And finally don't forget to make this journey fun. Interior design can be overly serious from time to time. After all when 80% of our time on this planet is spend indoors, design impacts everyone who lives and work in the interiors and there is a need to make it right. But take time to stop and reflect on the journey,... the opportunity to plan something special for you, your family and this house.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.