The Interior Designer-Client Relationship and how to make sure it’s awesome

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I have the best clients! Over the years, I have been so fortunate to have some fantastic people hire me as their Interior Designer. Many of my clients have been with me since I started designing nineteen years ago. Some say they will not conquer a home project without me.

I started thinking, what makes these relationships successful? What advice can I give to those seeking a designer? I think most people know to choose a designer who can create warm and welcoming interiors and has a deep understanding of the fundamental principles of design. It is also common sense that he or she should have knowledge of products, brands, and trends. But there are additional qualities to look for, which are not the first things that come to mind. Also, there are things you can do to make sure your designer-client relationship is successful.

Compatibility is key

Hire an interior designer with whom you are compatible. Designing your home should be a collaboration in which your designer helps you make the best choices for your style, taste, and budget. Often it is a give and take of ideas that are shaped by both the designer and the client. I genuinely believe that with my long-standing clients, our successful track record is because we make a great team and work well together. Look for a designer who will be a good fit for your personality.

Make sure your Interior Designer is a good listener

Keep in mind; all designers are different. One essential point to note when hiring an Interior Designer is to make sure he or she is a good listener. You want to be sure that your wants and needs are heard and used to make design decisions and purchases.

A good interior designer creates a space that reflects the personal taste of the client. If the client is traditional, it will be traditional. If the client has a contemporary flair, their home should reflect it. All too often, I am asked, “What style do you do?” I do my clients’ styles. I help them make choices that they like and that works for them in the best way possible.

My work is not a reflection of my taste. When my clients love their home, I feel the project was successful. In the end, that is the only thing that matters. Anyone you hire should have a similar outlook and goal.

Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay
Make sure your interior designer listens to your “wants”

Make sure you communicate your “wants” clearly

As important as it is for your designer to be a good listener, it is equally essential for you to be an excellent communicator. Initial consultations are idea sessions in which design goals are determined. You will benefit a lot from providing your designer with a list of wants, “must-haves,” and a budget. It is also helpful to have pictures collected of styles that you like. In this case, pictures are worth a thousand words because sometimes words mean different things to different people.

I have had clients express their taste to me in words. Then came to realize in time that their verbal portrayal was not an accurate description of what they meant. Pictures would have eliminated this communication error and saved us some wasted time. Having a folder of inspiration pictures can give insight to your taste and style. Also, it can help you pinpoint your authentic likes and dislikes. This knowledge will help your designer with shopping selections.

Your designer should be easily accessible, reliable and trustworthy

Often on the job, your contractor will have a question, and you will need to get an answer from your designer as fast as possible. It is best to pick a designer that is good at returning phone calls promptly. Also, you will be making many appointments with your designer. You want to make sure they show up when they say and that you are their priority for that slotted time. Also, you need to be able to trust your designer. You will be writing them checks to make your purchases. You will need to know that you can count on your designer to order on time, and follow through with your project appropriately.

interior designer returning a client call
Image by AllClear55 from Pixabay
Your designer should be easily accessible to answer questions during your project

Establish a Budget

Be sure to establish a budget with your designer. A budget will give your design professional a guideline when developing a plan. It is a good idea for you to do some preliminary footwork to have a sense of a range that things could cost. They will help to make sure your budget is realistic and that you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

If you do not have experience with home projects, you may be in for a surprise when you start costing things out. Don’t use television design shows as a guide for the cost to do a project. Prices vary from region to region, and some of the shows omit labor costs. Most importantly, always keep a buffer in the budget for unexpected expenses. Feel free to use my printables to help you with this.

Free printable form for kitchen remodeling budget
Free printable form for kitchen remodeling budget and others available

Hire an Interior Designer

If you are losing sleep and are overwhelmed with a design project, stop! Hire an interior designer. Follow this advice, and you will have a rewarding experience. A designer will make the project fun and take the stress out of it for you. Interior designers are creative people with a keen eye for detail and balance and bring with them much experience. Working with a designer has many benefits, and can keep you from making a costly mistake.

I hope you were able to read last week’s post on clutter. I have been taking my own advice and cleaning out some neglected storage closets in my home. If you have started some organizing projects you may want to check out the Container Store’s blog, it has great ideas!

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Ten Practical Tips to Conquer Clutter for Good

pillow with my happy place written on it

Storage and organization go hand in hand with design. You can create the most beautiful space, but if it has clutter, who can enjoy it or feel good in it? As I keep saying; It is all about Designing to be happy!

Clutter means different things to different people. To some, it means it is time to clean out the junk drawer. But to others, it can be a much bigger deal, and may even prevent them from entertaining in their home. If left un-managed, it can create tension between family members, cause stress, and unhappiness.

How much clutter do you have? Whether you have a little or a lot, these tips can help you can conquer it.

Clutter in our home can cause us stress

Tip 1 of 10- Design with storage in mind

If you live in small quarters, it is easy to accumulate clutter simply because there are not enough places to store items. Try to reduce what you have by eliminating doubles and things that you don’t use often. Next, make sure you are using your closets and other storage areas as efficiently as possible. Be very selective when choosing furniture. Tall furniture pieces take advantage of verticle space and provide much-needed storage. A credenza with storage space can be utilized behind a sofa and would be a better choice than a console table that does not have storage space. It is incredible how much extra space can be found with good design.

Tip 2 of 10- Thin out the excess

If you can’t blame the lack of space, perhaps you have too much stuff. Over the years, we acquire and inherit, and the result is the burden of caring for much more than we need. In some cases, it becomes overwhelming. When this occurs in your life, it is time to thin out what you have. This task is sometimes difficult because there are emotional reasons that prevent us from letting go. Let go of things that don’t fit into your ultimate design plan. Permit yourself to give away items that you have felt obligated to keep.

Tip 3 of 10- Develop good organization habits

Some people are innately good at keeping things organized. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, it just means you have to work a little harder at it. Start by making a conscious effort to make sure everything has a designated space and that it gets returned to it’s named home after use.

Tip 4 of 10- Throw out what is of no use

Throw out anything you don’t want, and that would be of no use to others. Get rid of old paperwork, broken household items, tattered towels, comforters, sheets. Completing this step first frees up space in which other belongings can be stored.

Closet systems can help control clutter

Tip 5 of 10- Give away

It is easier to lighten the load if you find your once treasured belongings a new home. If you don’t use it or need it, see if friends or family have a use for it. That way, you did something nice for yourself and someone else! Also, there is a fabulous website called freecycle that helps put you in touch with community members who might be searching for the very item you are looking to give away.

Tip 6 of 10- Donate to charity

Donating to a charity is great to do too. Some will even pick up clothing and household items that you would like to donate. I confess that I am guilty of arranging a pick up before getting donations together to get my family to clean out their closets. That tactic has a 100% success rate.

Tip 7 of 10- Sell unwanted items with significant value

Technology makes it easy to turn unwanted items that are valuable into cash. Craigslist, facebook marketplace, let it go, and next-door are great places to post the items you wish to sell. They are also an excellent resource to determine the value of the things you are selling.

Tip 8 of 10- Box up items that are difficult to let go of

If you are finding it difficult to part with some items, try boxing them up in plastic totes and storing them for a while. The plastic totes keep your items safe. If a year goes by and you have not looked for the things you packed up, it may be easier for you to bring them to a donation shop.

Tip 9 of 10- Go digital when possible to get rid of paper clutter

Try going digital if you must retain it—besides not taking up physical space in your home, it will be easier to find when you need it. Digital works great for papers but also can work for keepsakes from the past. Try taking photos of each thing, and then permit yourself to let go of the actual items. You will still be able to enjoy them.

checklist of what has to be done to remove clutter
Make a list of goals and then check off as you make progress

Tip 10 of 10- Take small steps

Be careful about pulling everything out all at once and becoming overwhelmed. If you have a lot to go through, remember that it took a long time to collect, and it may take some time to clear out. Be patient, and keep forging ahead. Taking small steps is still working in the right direction and eventually will get you to your goal.

Decorating with Colors Inspired by Nature

Room decorated in soft greens and blue taken from forest picture

Decorating with colors inspired by nature can help you develop a color scheme for a beautiful room. Mother nature has already perfectly coordinated color palettes for us to choose from.

Colors inspired by nature

Blue Rooms Inspired by the Sea

shows how to use the sea to pick colors for decorating a home.  Decorating with colors inspired by nature.

How awesome is this living room inspired by the sea? Just like the sea, the room is full of energy. The soft grays and whites are the perfect balance to the numerous shades of blue. However, if you are more of a warm color person, a sunset may be a better source for inspiration.

Orange Rooms Inspired by a Sunset

A living room created with colors from a sunset.

When decorating with colors inspired by nature think of a sunset. This sunset reflecting off the dark color of the water inspires a room which is cheery but also well grounded by the color gray. The result is a warm, relaxed atmosphere. It is important to realize that changing the proportions of the colors would alter the feel of the room dramatically. In other words, more orange and less gray would make a bold statement. A bold color palette creates an exciting and adventurous atmosphere.

Blue and Green Rooms Inspired by a Forest

Shows how to use nature for room color inspiration.  Room inspired by a forest.

Another example of decorating with colors inspired by nature is this beautiful blue-green room. This inspiration picture of trees and water boasts a variety of cool greens and blues. The palette shown could easily be warmed up with the addition of some warm green. Decorating using the forest as room color inspiration has many wonderful possibilities.

Neutral Rooms Inspired by Snow

Shows how to use nature for room color inspiration. Room inspired by snow.

Turning to snow for inspiration is so fun! This palette incorporates different shades of gray, cream and white. The grays found in snow sometimes have a subtle purple undertone which can add a elegant feel to a room. Using metallic gold or silver is a great way to pop these neutrals. You can see this illustrated in the picture above with the use of mirrored furniture and the silver plate leaning against the wall as decor.

Muted Pastel Rooms Inspired by the Beach

Shows how to use nature for room color inspiration. Room inspired by the beach.

In the last example, the soft coastal colors of taupe, ice blue, and soft shades of green are muted and quiet. Many find this palette to be calming and tranquil. It can also lend itself quite nicely to a look of whimsy or one that is romantic.  I want to be sitting at the table in the picture in a white dress and a glass of champagne.

Picking colors to live with is such a personal choice. The colors you select for your home should be ones that make you feel good and are soothing to your soul. If you are starting a decorating project, check out my post Get Started Creating Your Happy Place At Home. Also, if you are venturing out to the paint store reading Why Is Picking A White Paint So Tricky? will give you some great basic color theory knowledge. If you need help, you can always hire me.

Why Is Picking A White Paint So Tricky?

White brick wall
beautiful kitchen with white paint on cabinets
Beautiful kitchen and use of the color white

Why Is Picking A White Paint So Tricky? Maybe because there are so many white paint colors to choose from. Did you know that Benjamin Moore & Co has 372 colors with white in its name? Of course, I knew that there are many different white paint colors. However, until a client was trying to remember a “white” she had in her old home, I had never checked to see how many.  It is no wonder why picking a white paint is not an easy task for most people.

I stood there at the consultation with my paint deck asking, “was it cloud white, white Christmas, oxford white” until she said, “I don’t remember and they all are looking so similar.” 

white paint on brick wall in room.

With there being 372 whites, it is no wonder picking a white paint color is so difficult for many people. White paint is not just white. More importantly, you can make a mistake by picking the wrong white.

Understanding Color

It is helpful to understand some color theory basics to explain the difference between the many different white paints available. This will also help you when picking colors for your home.

fan deck showing colors of paint to pick from

Warm and Cool Colors

First, all colors can be categorized as either warm or cool. Warm colors have an underlying color of either orange, red or yellow. Warm colors advance towards you. This means they can make large rooms seem smaller. Logically, this tells us that warm colors can help us create cozy rooms. On the other hand, cool colors have an underlying color of either blue, green or purple in them. Cool colors are known to recede. Painting a small room in a cool color can make a small room seem larger. Additionally, using a cool color on a ceiling can make the ceiling seem higher. Cool colors can help create a feeling of calmness and tranquility in a room.  

When critically looking at a color, you will see its underlying color. This is sometimes called an undertone. If this is a new concept to you, the best way to discover this is with the color white. Many people think white is white. As I said above, it is never just white.

living room showing white paint on walls with warm colored accents
Cool white walls with warm accents

Some are warm whites, and some are cool whites. Looking at each white separately, it may appear to just be white. When you compare them to each other, you will be able to identify their underlying tones. Some have cool underlying colors like blue or purple. Others have warm underlying colors such as yellow or red. 

These are the nuances that can cause you to pick a color that ends up not being what you thought once you put it on your walls. If something is not quite right, it is probably the underlying color that needs to be tweaked.

Don’t make this white paint mistake

A client of mine painted her walls off white to create a monochromatic look with her off-white pickled oak cabinets. Sounds simple enough—what can go wrong? The “off-white” cabinets had a pink undertone to them. The “off-white” paint she chose had a yellow undertone to it. Guess what? They clashed! She could not figure out what she was unhappy about until she called me in to help.

A blue undertone would have brought coolness and balance to the room. A red undertone would have continued the warm cozy feeling the cabinets had. Any other undertone then the yellow one she picked would have been a better choice.

living room showing white painted walls with warm colored accents
Warm white walls

When you pick a paint color, blue, pink., white or any other color, be aware of whether it is a warm or cool color. Next, know it’s underlying color tone to make sure you selected a color that will work in your home.

If you are starting a decorating project and need to pick paint colors, you may find Decorating with Colors Inspired by Nature helpful. Another great resource is Personality Types and Colors.

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