The Client and the Designer - Tango, Waltz, or SlamDance??

bronwynsmomJune 18, 2012

In response to several recent posts, here's a thread for discussing the roles and responsibilities of designers and clients.

So let me start by saying that this is a complex and varied field, with many levels of ability, experience, professionalism, and ethics.

Lots of the questions we'll discuss here have more than one answer. And honest disagreement is inevitable. We all have things to teach and things to learn.

I'd like to lead with a question for the trained designers here.

What do you recommend as background reading and/or preparation for people who haven't used a designer before?

And what steps do you use to begin a consultation?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you for starting this thread. I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Exactly -- what steps should a wise client take before any consultation with a designer/decorator?

a)Should the client take photos and many measurements BEFORE walking into the consultation? Photos?

b)Should we bring in our "inspiration" folders? Does that help or hinder the process?

c)Should we have a "hard" budget on the table before the "design" talk even starts?

d)Should we ask for a "line item" budget report during the project? Or afterwards can we negotiate an item like "fabric selection - 3 hrs" -- and we did not even like the selection?? How do we handle those kinds of "snags" (heehee -- a small "warp" joke ... LOL!) What should happen when a client finds the fabric (or lamp or table or rug) first?

e)What about tricky areas like electrical problems/issues and plumbing issues ... as well as permits etc. -- can a designer handle these issues? What happens when they can't?

Sorry about the length of this post -- these are just possible discussion points .....

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Can we start with Inspiration Photos? Photos are both very important for inspiration, communication, and examples; and also potentially misleading pitfalls. And it is often where the client starts.

If it is okay I would like to start there and hear other people's input from both sides. I tend to write in narrative form, so I am not making fun of clients if I report conversations just some of the difficulties I have had even with some people's "inspirations" vs. realities.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well -- I can certainly see how a pile of inspiration photos could be BOTH a great starting place for a consultation AND a hard-reality pitfall too .... in terms of physical space, time and of course money! :)

At that point -- should the client and/or designer offer to show their own work portfolio? At what point -- does an honest client AND an honest designer decide that their styles/time/money/budget simply will not work together?

So -- how should a really good design consultation work?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Both clients and many designers need to do a much better job dealing with inspiration photos.

The problem is, many clients walk into a designers office with a sheaf full of photos they love--but they do not even understand what they are looking at.

First, they often fail to recognize that they are looking at professionally lit, staged and photographed rooms, often featuring architectural details that their homes lack or materials and finishes they will never, ever be able to afford. So there is a bit of false expectation that they are going to end up with the same magical feeling that they get from the photos, perhaps even on a shoestring budget.

Second, there needs to be an explicit step of identifying the specific elements that the client likes. Clients often tend to describe their pictures with fairly worthless value judgment terms, like "timeless" or "classic." What needs to happen is to inventory the common threads that run through all the photos in neutral, descriptive, accurate words. "Strong contrasts between dark colors and light honey tones." "Stylistically eclectic contents with a restrained, neutral color palette." Or whatever.

This is where a lot of people on the kitchen forum go badly wrong. They are drawn to inset cabinets, for instance, and then after experience sticker shock they go for full overlay saying it will be "fine." Every one of their inspiration cabinets may be rich cherry, but then they decide that cheaper, lighter wood will be "fine." (livewireoak wrote a hilarious thread on this phenomenon.) The result is usually misery for all parties involved.

Really, designers should devote an entire session to reviewing the inspiration pics and making an inventory of their common elements. And clients should approach it with an open mind and accept the results of the analysis.

I have long wanted to start a thread on this on the KF. Maybe it's time.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hmmmm -- okay -- so a client needs to bring inspiration photos -- but (and this is so tricky) be able to pinpoint what common elements they are drawn to?

BTW -- one of the BEST books with tons of interesting questions is Alexandra Stoddard's "Feeling at Home" ....

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, I think starting with using visual media to communicate visual things is critical

First, I'd like to offer my version of the answers to teacats' questions.

"a)Should the client take photos and many measurements BEFORE walking into the consultation? Photos?"

I think that, unless the client has some background in measured drawings or drafting, it is better for the designer to do all the existing condition measurements and drawings. But photographs are very helpful, as a starting point.

"b)Should we bring in our "inspiration" folders? Does that help or hinder the process?"

Yes, yes, absolutely yes. If you don't already have an inspiration file or book, I have a process for teaching you to build one.

"c)Should we have a "hard" budget on the table before the "design" talk even starts?"

That depends on whether you need to have a hard budget. I want clients to say, this is about what I am prepared to spend...or, I would like to do this for X, and I absolutely can't go over Y. However, some clients are afraid that if they give you a budget, you'll be sure to spend it all.

So early in the conversation, budget must be discussed, even if it's still a little fluid, because otherwise the designer has no idea whether you are talking about $1,500 or $15,000, and every choice depends on knowing the range.

Oh - and let me also say that I never charge for the initial meeting to decide whether or not we will proceed, nor do I charge for creating a proposal based on that meeting. That's my marketing cost - you don't start paying until I am working for you. And so it's my responsibility to control the time I spend getting your business, and how much information I give away to get it. I'd say that I spend somewhere between three and four hours to get a new job of any scope.

"d)Should we ask for a "line item" budget report during the project? Or afterwards can we negotiate an item like "fabric selection - 3 hrs" -- and we did not even like the selection?? How do we handle those kinds of "snags" (heehee -- a small "warp" joke ... LOL!) What should happen when a client finds the fabric (or lamp or table or rug) first?"

That's a lot of ground to cover in one question!

Depending on the size and scope, I think a reasonably itemized bill at agreed-upon intervals is fine. But I usually group "Design Development" and "Materials Acquisition" separately in an hourly report, and list anything purchased in an itemized list, but I don't go into more detail than that.

I would never agree to a stated number of hours for fabric selection, or any specific choice to be made. Sometimes you find the perfect thing in five minutes, and sometimes it takes days (not full days, but you might have to hunt things up in different places, unless you have a huge sample library of your own).

I always spend a lot of time talking about the project and looking through photos and samples to get a sense of what will appeal before I do any specific recommending - and I almost always present three or four fabric options in the context of other choices being made. Often, a client can best express exactly what is wanted when there's something specific to react to. I have rarely had anyone reject more than two sets of suggestions, and usually something in the first group either works, or tells me exactly what's wrong with the first choices, and then I can find the right thing.

Another thing that should be discussed at the beginning is whether or not the client is going to look for things on his/her own during the project. (This can be a great help and very collaborative and fun, or a nightmare, requiring great tact and kindness when you are presented with some horror or other!) I usually suggest that my clients photograph anything they find to consider and email it to me, so I can help decide as quickly as possible if it will work. When the client finds something good, I often buy it on my account, and share the discount with the client.

"e)What about tricky areas like electrical problems/issues and plumbing issues ... as well as permits etc. -- can a designer handle these issues? What happens when they can't?"

Depends on the designer. I have plumbers and electricians and other tradespeople whom I know and trust, and I can bring in whoever we need to do what the client wants done. Sometimes there's already a general contractor or an architect involved, and sometimes I can recommend a couple of people for the client to interview. I can also help with the interviews. But all of those things are spelled out clearly in the scope of work. Sometimes my fee is hourly for those things, and sometimes it's a percentage of the overall contract, negotiated with the architect or builder. Not all designers do this - some operate solely in the area of consultation and/or purchasing for color, fabric, furnishings, and arrangement, and will have painters or drapery hangers to call, but no construction trades available.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I recently closed my independent design business, so I feel a bit qualified to comment here.

The most common design request I received was for assistance in choosing the "right" paint color.

After the fact.

After the room was crammed with all kinds of stylistically chaotic eye burning inexpensive crap. "Help me with paint."

Yes, it's one of the last things to choose on the long list of furnishings, but a paint color will NOT pull together a badly designed room. It will NOT make up for the fact that your husband's black leather sofa and BUR (Big Ugly Recliner) just don't work with the rose colored Aubussson rug and repurposed bird cage chandelier that you will NOT put in another room.

Choosing a great sofa won't make a great room.

Choosing tall crown molding won't give a 12'x12' 8' ceilinged box "architectural interest".

Creating all kinds of odd bumpouts and gables in a home plan doesn't do anything but add needless expense unless there is some actual designed purpose to those bumpouts and gables.

Good design is more than an A-M process set of steps. It has to be carefuly considered at the very conception of the room. The very shape and volume of a room as well as it's relational context to the other rooms in a home doesn't change, and that's the first foundation to any "design". If that foundation lacks interest, or good proportions, there is only so much that you can do to create a well designed space. Using the Sistine Chapel as the "inspiration photo" for a small suburban home will only lead to some really ridiculous choices.

Thank you, and now back to your regular programming of which of the 10,000 shades of white is the "right" one.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brownwynsmom: MANY thanks for those answers, ideas and information!! Excellent points throughout the posting! :)

So basically -- the best kind of designers are ones that LISTEN, coach, supervise and act as a translator for their clients?

Just as a tricky aside -- is it true that there is a controversial issue over the exact terminology of "Interior Designer" and "Interior Decorator"?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In a word, yes.

The profession is regulated state-by-state. In some places where regulation is stiffer, for instance, you must be a current member of ASID to use "Interior Designer" on your business card and presentation. Otherwise, you must say something like, "Home decoration and design consultation" or "Space planning and decoration" or some such thing.

Some people are sniffy about what they are called. And some of the most famous iconic society designers call themselves "decorators."

I should disclose, by the way, that although I answered all those questions in the present tense, I am not in practice now - except now and then, when I can't help it - but all those things still applied when I was. So I am not up to date on the regulations as they stand now - somebody here can explain it better.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

GreenDesigns: Again -- excellent thoughts!

So -- I do understand your frustrations -- but many clients simply can not (or will not) start with a Clear Space. Some folks MUST keep items (sometimes heirlooms, sometimes as a "meeting point" between spouses) I'm sure those kinds of issues arise at all kinds of levels of projects ....

"sistine chapel" LOL! :)

Of course I do adore many way-out-of-my-mere-budget rooms and ideas ... and hope that a way MIGHT be found to translate SOME of the elements into my space .... a paint color? a tablescape? a furniture layout?

Again -- just some discussion points ....

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I deal with upholstery, accent furniture, area rugs and the accessorization of my client's/customer's homes - medium price points.

I like (no, I need!) to say: Tell me about your home so I can help you better....then I listen and take note.

Who lives there
Who uses the room

How do you use the room

What is the purpose of the room
What are the dimensions/floorplan
What items are you keeping
What is your budget

When do you want the room complete

Where is the home located

Why do you want to do this

It is always helpful when a customer already has basic furniture construction knowledge, if not I can give a quick overview. Bringing in or emailing pictures is extremely helpful. Also very welcome is when they have found pics of the look and feel they are after. My job is to guide them to the realities of what can be accomplished within any constraints I have discovered through the questions.

The most frequent issue I have with customers is this: simply purchasing new upholstery, art or an accent or two will not give you the room you see in elle decor. The problem is editing. Letting go of "stuff" (as in, no purpose, no financial or emotional worth). It's like putting a new outfit on over the one you wore yesterday and expecting a fresh look. Yes, the same shoes or belt may work, but two pairs of pants? Not.

I the scheme of the decorating world, I keep my services on the "lite" side. I prefer to work in-store with the customer. I will go to the home for a consult if necessary. Our wt person does go to the home at no charge for a quote as does the upholsterer. If a customer needs more extensive help with their home than I am comfortable giving, I have designers in the area I direct them too.

As for charges, I own the store so the only fee I charge is an in-home consult fee of $99 per room. The consult normally last about an hour and includes:

� paint
� color
� flow
� fabric
� furniture
� area rugs
� layout
� accessories

I love hearing about all of the different ways we work in the design and home industry!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 2:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a KD, I often get requests to create kitchens that are quite inappropriate to the home's overall bones. I may try to suggest tweaks to the client's idea that will let the room belong to the whole better, but in the end, it's the clients money and they can spend it as they wish. I DO internally cringe quite a bit at the many offenses against good design that I contribute to. :/

I think the biggest issue that customers who wish design help should open their minds to is that they do not live in a vacuum in which a small Victorian bedroom box is completely separate from the small Craftsman study box, which is separate from the Edwardian kitchen box. All of these individual boxes inhabit the larger box of a certain style home, and "listening" to that home's style will help them create a more cohesively designed home.

Yes, there are always constraints under which a room is designed, whether it be a client's inherited furniture or a room's awkward architecture. Constraints help to define a successful design style though---as long as they are not too disparate. The constraint that most clients find difficult to internalize though is that just because you "already own" something or "love" something does NOT make it a correct design choice in a particular situation. GD's BUR (love that term!) will never be at home in a formal living room of any variety. However, it might be recovered and find new life in an office or den area. Just because you "love" the Victorian fussery of lace and tchochtkes doesn't make it "work" in a MCM ranch home.

If design is important to you, then start off any home project as a whole piece of cloth, with each room and each element in each room being a harmonious component of the whole.

And then be prepared to be ruthless.

If you inherit your grandmother's old Singer sewing machine and you live in an all white downtown loft then it's going to take a lot to make that piece look like it belongs. Don't hold on to "things"--from whatever source--- if they will not fit into the whole. Pass them along to someone else where they will work, and keep the memory in a photo. It's the memory of your grandmother that is important, NOT her sewing machine. It's the same with all of the "stuff" that creeps into our lives. If it doesn't WORK as part of the whole, it needs to be gone.

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful" -- William Morris ...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 2:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When using inspiration pictures, try to identify *specifically* what is is that inspires you about the picture. When it comes to brass tacks, I would rather see a blurry picture of a cabinet face and drawer head from a manufacturer's website that is Exactly the type of door you really like in terms of style and construction (or several types is fine), rather than seeing a Kitchen of the Month layout in Traditional Homes.

I will relate two conversations to tell you why. One, I know people have heard but it's salient to the topic.

Actually at the cabinet display area;

Client: "I LOVE this cabinet door"
Me: Really? I didn't think you were into the redder stains.
Client: No, I know, but I LOVE this cabinet door
Me: So you like the raised panel?
Client: No that's kind of too much detail, but maybe we can get this door in a plainer door.
Me: So you like the stain and finish but in a simpler style.
Client: Yes plainer, and I am not sure about the color maybe.
Me: So if you don't like the construction of the door, the raised panel, and you don't like the Finish on the door...what is it that attracts you to this door?

Client: "It's called Merlot, I LOVE Merlot, and it would be really neat to have kitchen cabinets named Merlot.

Me: Do you like anything about the door if you didn't know it was called Merlot?, not really, it's kinda too fancy and too red...

Another client pulls out a picture:

Client: I want my kitchen to look EXACTLY like this. I know it's smaller and all but this is the look I want exactly.

Me: So you like this beaded door with the glaze in the details...
Client: Hmm, actually no, I always think that looks kinda dirty, I would probably want pure white. But the rest is exactly what I want.
Me: So a two-tone kitchen with a separate feature like a hutch in colored or stained cabinets?
Client: Oh you know I wasn't thinking of that. No, all white.
Me: So an all white kitchen with a sandy-colored countertops. Do you want raw brass knobs and stuff, it's kind of nautical.
Client: Oh I never noticed the brass, no I would probably do silvertoned, there. And I like blue, do they make light blue countertops, the beige is okay, but...

Me: it seems like what you like is Kinda like this kitchen but not a lot...look at this inspiration picture and tell me exactly what it is about this picture you are responding to.

Client: Well, look at it, it is so bright and that window! Look at that view!

It was the ocean. She loves the ocean and has a shore house, but this house happened to be a townhouse with a high window in the kitchen the looked out at a hill. She liked the geographical location of the kitchen.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What exactly does a *free* consultation include?

Why can't a designer/decorator take the initiative and give a prospective client a pamphlet of information with a check list? It could relate to the general area of needs/wants for a specific room. Deedee is on the right track.

Lay people don't understand 'designer speak' therefor a terminology dictionary of sorts(small pamphlet?)would be a useful tool. ;o)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Too funny Pal.

When I sample paint, I make a point of using numbers and not names. Otherwise I cannot help but be swayed by the name. I think BM has a color called Ancient Ivory and because I would really like to own something ancient made from Ivory, I really wanted to like the paint color. But it was the wrong color.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unless I am doing the whole job for free, which I sometimes do, my free consultation is to find out what the potential client is interesting in accomplishing and whether or not I want to take on the project. If I am getting paid for it we come up with some rate with cut-offs, if I am bartering we figure that out, and if I am doing it for free, I tell them what I am willing to do for free and since it is free what may be expected of them in return.

I don't do commissions on furniture or cabinetry. I design at an hourly rate and that's it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, to answer the question, I only tango with my husband...and I'm not even sure what SlamDance is but it sounds painful and anything but graceful.

So, that would leave a waltz, which I think is actually a very good analogy. There are a few basic rules, you have to be able to count...but it's fairly easy to learn and only one person can lead. However, if you have a question, it's easy to stop, get clarification...and then start counting again :)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lavender Lass, you understood perfectly!

Patty cakes, it is most common for a free consultation to be offered in a retail setting, in which the markup on furnishings or fabric or fittings covers the cost of a salaried designer. Sometimes a designer will advertise a consultation as part of an overall marketing plan, to drum up business or widen his/her visibility in the market.

The "free" part of my usual process is the initial meeting, which as Palimpsest explains is when the designer and client decide whether or not to proceed. This is where good customer service should begin, and where trust begins to form. It's where the designer can usually suss out what the client's level of design knowledge is, and what needs to be explained.

If the client is still all over the place at this point, the next step can be to schedule a paid session of an hour or two, at which point the program for the job can be developed more clearly, and the client can be given some homework to clarify and communicate the goals. In my experience, it is very important to be as honest as possible, sweetly and gently, about constraints, or the need for a better developed idea, or what things she is asking for seem mutually exclusive.

You have to be articulate enough about design principles, and what it is in an inspiration room that will be destroyed by a wrong choice, or how the overall idea needs to be revised to work that antique Singer sewing machine in, without trashing someone's taste. I can't count the times I have heard myself say, "Oh, my, what a wonderful (lamp-table-painting-fabric-whatever)! Wouldn't it be fun to use that! I don't think it will work in here, but let's see if we can't find another place for it!" Then you work on losing the awful thing somewhere farther along, when the plan becomes better defined.

The initial meeting is also the point at which the designer may decide that the job is not for her. A client who is going to be trouble often (not always!) reveals it in that meeting. If the project just can't be accomplished with the stated constraints (not enough budget, too many impossible things that must be included, a house that will never be what the client hopes for), that's the time to suggest a different route for the client - or to narrow the focus of the job to improve things as best you can, as quickly and inexpensively as you can, legitimately. Meaning, giving the client something of value without raising unrealistic expectations.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 5:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What about when the designer charges a retainer. There was a 1k retainer fee on my bill which I thought was to be applied towards the work being done but no it was to get me set up with her. Never quite figured that one out. She was about 150 per hr on top of that

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We just had the interesting experience of working with two different designers from two different retail stores. Designer "M" works for a local chain and has a degree from a prestigious design school. I don't know what Designer "L"'s credentials are.

We told her that we were casual people, that we entertain a lot and casually, that we are into comfort, and that we were keeping our wall of books.

Designer "M" wanted to do our entire room her way. We told her we liked purple and green and blue. She thought chocolate brown would be a good color. She picked formal feeling fabrics and patterns.

We were looking for a comfortable seating arrangement. She thought a couple of chairs along a wall would be good, as well as a seating arrangement that had less seating than we started with. She said our friends could pull those chairs over if they wanted to.

I told her that I found 3 cushion sofas more comfortable and could seat 3, which we often do. She said she thought 2 cushions were so much more attractive that she didn't care if the middle person wasn't comfortable.

We said comfort was a huge factor in selecting soft furniture. She said she knew we said that, but look at this chair with wooden arms, which we told her we didn't want. Oh, and look at this other one with wooden arms, she said.

And finally, she wasn't the *least* bit interested in the two inspiration pictures I had--both of art I was *going* to put in the room.

Designer "L" was very interested in those same pictures. She picked fabrics that would work in a room that had those paintings. She listened to how we use the room and planned for a seating arrangement that would work for large groups.

We told her people often sat on our coffee table (true) and she showed us a few options that would provide additional seating. When DH and DD decided that they wanted a chair there wasn't room for two of, she made changes to make that work. She steered us away from things that wouldn't work.

She knew we were watching our budget (since it's the second room we're doing this year), so she gave us some ideas for repurposing what we have for now, and how she'd change it later when we're ready to replace case goods. (We placed an order with her store.)

Designer "M" was trying to "create a room"--but it seemed it would be staged and uncomfortable and not "us" at all. It felt like she wanted to get us out of her way so she could do her work. I was glad it was a store-provided service and we didn't pay directly for it. She probably thinks we're the world's least cooperative clients--but we didn't think she 'heard' us at all.

Designer "L" was also trying to create a room--but she acted more as a consultant. She wanted something we'd be thrilled with--and was working towards making that happen. (And she thinks we're great :-).

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

There may be a reason that M works at a chain store on commission from sales of individual pieces of furniture rather than as an independent designer, regardless of what her degree is. I agree that it is very difficult to work with someone who doesn't seem to listen at all.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

LOL! palimpsest: Client: Hmm, actually no, I always think (glaze) that looks kinda dirty... Until this afternoon, this was me, I officially hated glazes, and mostly I still do. This afternoon, though, I saw an ebony glaze, very understated, that gave the cabinets depth and a certain gravitas vs. somebody never wipes the gunk off the cabinets. I like it and I couldn't be more surprised.

and Client: "It's called Merlot, I LOVE Merlot, and it would be really neat to have kitchen cabinets named Merlot. We currently have a dozen or so paint strips hanging on our bedroom wall in various shades of gray. We've tossed the green ones and the too dark ones and the too blue ones, and are down to subtle differences. One of those my DH has taken an exception to the name of the color. Honestly, I've always wondered who names those colors in the first place, and if they have nightmares about color names chasing them downs in desperate races across barren landscapes. If the one with the objectionable name turns out to be the best choice, we're using it anyway!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 6:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Color names, like the names of nail polish, are created by groups of elves sitting on mushrooms in a mossy glen, and involve pitchers of moonbeam martinis, and pipes full of dew-and-pollen soaked weed.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:47AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Color names, like the names of nail polish, are created by groups of elves sitting on mushrooms in a mossy glen, and involve pitchers of moonbeam martinis, and pipes full of dew-and-pollen soaked weed.

Having worked for many years for a nail polish company, I can confirm that this is true.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

bronwynsmom thanks for explaining one of the mysteries of life!
On a serious note, I enjoyed the input from the designers here on HD. Thanks for your time and information.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I still remember a bottle of Christian Dior nail polish I had in high school, which was called "Shanghai Express". It wasn't even red.

And when I tried fourteen blues for my exterior porch celings, I ended up with the first one I had tried. It was called "Porch ceiling blue". In that case, I was reacting to the idea that I was such a dolt that I couldn't pick my own blue, and so resisted it mightily. And then succumbed.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:34AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A few questions to, maybe, help get the ball rolling again -

Do you think that many people avoid hiring an interior designer/decorator because it seems like such a mysterious process to them?

My mother gave my this bit of wisdom (something like this):
If they don't tell you the price up front, then you can't afford it.
But the very nature of interior design makes it quite difficult to give clients hard (absolute) numbers.
Do you think that people are afraid of unknown costs skyrocketing out of control, therefore they avoid hiring design help, but then spend as much or more money to end up with with a room that doesn't work?

How has the slow economy affected the interior design business in your area? Or has it?
Can the interior design business accommodate more "regular" paying customers or is this a luxury-only business?

Do you think that the plethora of TV shows, youtube videos, websites, forums, books, and magazines about design has helped or hurt the overall image of the interior design industry?

Do you think people are afraid they're going to end up with a "Hildy" room, a la the old "TRADING SPACES" TV show, with some lunatic designer glueing horse manure or the like to the walls?

The information and encouragement to DIY that is so prevalent now has helped some of us end up finding talents we never knew we had, in areas like painting, refinishing, flooring, upholstery, gardening, etc. Is this a good or a bad thing for designers?

Thanks to all of you, professionals and non-professionals, who share your knowledge and advice.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 1:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My parents, while upper middle class, were not really in the luxury market. They had never worked with an interior designer before they built their house. Their first interior designer, who was near retirement when they hired her, must've done something right because every stick of that furniture is still there, 44 years later. It was expensive up front, relatively, but in terms of life cycle, very cheap. It was all worth reupholstering. In my experience it actually saves you money if you work with a good interior designer. My sister, who thinks she can make all these decisions by herself, has had more furniture in and out of that house, more schemes, half finished ideas, and window treatments etc, than an unclaimed freight clearance center and after thirty years of spending money on furnishings and goods -- has almost nothing of worth to show for it. And I know a lot of people in the same boat.

The slow economy has definitely affected the market, and many interior designers are either out of work or very slow.

The plethora of TV shows has exposed the design industry to a wider overall audience, but I think overall it has Not Helped the image of the industry. I think there are a lot of blogs and videos that are absolutely useless and there is no regulation with regards to the veracity of the information provided.

Yes, I think people are afraid they are going to end up with a Hildy, but the entire premise of that show was entirely backwards.

My mother who knew what it was actually like to design the interior of a house with an interior designer asked me, during the Trading Spaces heyday what I would do in her Living Room for $2000 in 2 days.

I told her "measure for and order new good quality lampshades". Which would've taken up the $2000 for 5 lampshades comparable to the originals, but not the whole weekend. These shows make everybody expect everything for nothing in no time. And a lot of the design is photogenic, but essentially junk.

I don't think the DIY market has hurt the interior design industry at all, they are mostly two different groups of people.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 2:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Brunschwig went Chapter 11, so yes, the design trade is hurting due to the economy. As in other countries with extreme wealth concentrations (Saudi Arabia, etc.) there is plenty of cash being thrown at decor by hedge fund managers with essentially limitless budgets, but the tier down from there has curtailed its spending a lot. Also, an ailing real estate market means fewer movers and fewer new homes to decorate.

I do agree with pal that TV makes people think they can overnight top-quality design transformations without spending any money.

But the catalog companies have also hurt. I am always amazed at younger people who think Pottery Barn is the one and only look to aspire to. The PB look is of course driven by economics--pseudo-rustic, "casual" furniture is cheaply and easily produced in China by slave and child labor; fine furniture, not so much. It's not really about whether someone likes PB or not. The real issue is that among many young people, PB and C&B catalogues are almost the only design styles they have ever been exposed to, so now this limit, flaw and failing in their education is held up as a virtue. (This is similar to the way many young people can no longer type, sew, write a sentence in cursive handwriting, do math or spell, and yet present all these inadequacies as hip and cutting-edge. It's a generalization that doesn't apply to everyone, but it applies to a lot of people in the demographic.) So when they see a style unfamiliar to them from PB or CB, they reject it as old--not because they're so "sophisticated," but because they literally don't know any better.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If I hear one more person in an orange apron say, "You can do it!" I think I will move to a Greek island and live in a hut with a bench and a spoon...

Palimpsest's post about how much money is wasted by people who simply can't let go, or take advice from anyone on anything, and how shoddy and fake the work done on week-end decorating shows is, is right on point.

One of my favorite ads involves a surgeon on the telephone instructing a fellow sitting at his kitchen table with a butcher knife how to take out his own appendix.

Someone can tell you how to do something, but that doesn't mean you don't need to watch it, practice it, screw it up, practice it some more, and finally understand the process and master the skills before you will get anything like a decent result.

Some of the more obvious things are:
Kitchen design. Plumbing. Electrical work. Tile setting. Trim carpentry. Framing. Drywall. Bricklaying. Drainage engineering. Drafted existing condition drawings. Construction drawings. Critical path (setting and managing order of work).

But there are more subtle things that also require training and practice:
Space planning. Color palette creation. Balance. Symmetry, and negative space. Circulation. Proportion. Suitability. Architectural integrity. Light. Access. Underlying structure.

I really admire those of you who have taken on and mastered all kinds of household improvement and design skills, and done work yourselves that turned out well. You have learned just how demanding those jobs were, and how many more hours it took you than it might have taken a skilled professional who has a truck full of equipment, a couple of helpers, and who does it every day.

But I bet a lot of you have tried things that looked easy and really weren't, and either had to give up, or call in a pro, or live with something you really don't think is good enough. I know I have.

The world has changed, my dears, and we are now walking around with huge targets on our pockets. Everything that comes at us is designed to sell us something, whether we want and need it or not. Television, magazines, and the internet live by advertising, and their editorial content is there to show us why we need to buy what the advertisers are selling. Doesn't mean they aren't great sources of ideas and understanding, but we have to be alert to undue influence, and remember that good things can be expensive, and that the lady in the kitchen who looks just like us, mopping up juice with the A-1 paper towel, is in a kitchen that probably cost $250,000. Our expectations have been inflated to keep us hauling out those credit cards.

Which is why I love this forum. All given generously, all given anonymously. The musician on the street corner, who is playin' real good for free.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm so glad to see this thread has taken off like a sky rocket and the coolest thing is it reads as if the whole group just sitting at a table together drinking coffee and sharing ideas.

Bronwynsmom, thank you for starting the thread. I knew it would have a lot more credibility if it were started by a professional and you took it in the exact direction I was hoping it would go. I know a lot of people will read through this and learn from it. Much appreciated!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 4:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm someone who knows she needs design help. I just don't have the "eye" to tell if things will go together--I can pick individual items I like, but not a set, and I am capable of picking out a bunch of items I like and then not liking them together.

When we built our house, we were referred to an interior design consultant, who charged us $75/hour to place light fixtures, pick light fixtures, counter tops, floors, and paint color. (She also picked the paint color for the house we were selling which looked way better than the one I had picked out a few years earlier that I liked.)

I was so afraid I'd pick out the pieces I liked and they wouldn't work together. (I was right--I would have--and she steered us away from those choices.) If we'd brought her on earlier, we might even have ended up with a different cabinet shade--but I do love what we have.

I think we spent about $1200 for her time during the build process--and it was *completely* worth it. Everyone here pointed out that my rooms needed color (they do), but with her help, all of the floors, cabinets, and walls look good together (all neutrals) that I can do anything--I just need to figure out what.

If she were still working, we'd be using her for our decorating. Since she isn't working, I didn't have a clue how to go about finding another design consultant, so we used the one at the store.

It's hard for someone who knows she needs help to find a designer. Even as furniture is settled, I'm at a loss to "finish" a room with its accessories.

I'm envious of those of you who find it easy.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 4:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great point about 24/7 360-degree marketing.

I also noted the mention of critical paths and other management issues. I think if someone is wondering whether they can manage a relationship with a designer, they need to ask whether they can manage anything. Some people can't. Whatever they're trying to do, deadlines pass. Critical steps get forgotten. Communication is poor, either because they find it hard to formulate thoughts, try too hard to avoid confrontation, or can't conduct a conversation without a confrontation. A frank self-assessment is probably a good idea before embarking on one of these design projects. If you were good at managing work projects, work reporting relationships, construction projects, charity drives--whatever--you will have to call on those skills to manage a design project as well. If you've never been good at that sort of thing, you may need to involve someone else to set the parameters for you, like a spouse or sibling or adult kid, not to make the aesthetic choices but to ensure that budgets, timetables and communications are buttoned up.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm with Marcolo and Palimpsest: For those with a stack of folders crammed with "inspiration photos" ... if you can't explain to the designer or architect exactly what design detail, principle or concept you find inspiring about that photo, it's birdcage liner.

If I can't tell myself what I like about an inspiration picture a few weeks after collecting it, I toss it. It may have been attractive, but there's no lasting information in it.

I try to keep landscaping clients focused on usability, function and traffic flow patterns as long as possible ... I do not want to get into discussions of which color petunia goes best with the roof until we know how they are going to get from the back door to the BBQ.

To that end, I have a lovely questionnaire about what they would like to do in that space ... and then we discuss how the pieces need to fit, and what level of comfort they have with DIY versus getting a contractor, how to stage things, etc.

Because I am a "design consultant" and not a "landscape contractor", I hand over the generic plans and drawings so they can DIY or hire someone. They have a suggested schedule, plants lists and backup selections if something is unavailable.

If it's a decent design, it can be executed at a variety of price points and still work well.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

After I had my post-doc, there were two situations that caused me to take a design course. One, I was not loving my day job(s) at that point; (2) I was undertaking a kitchen renovation and an overall restoration of an apartment that was the former back parlor of an 1840 house.

So I took an "Interior Decorative Arts" course at a local school with an ID program. And I was a bit ahead of the game compared to a number of the people in the class: I had a fairly extensive drawing and painting background, and my parents not only used interior designers, but the latest one had been bouncing ideas off of me since I was in HS, and I was often given the final vote when it came to design decisions.

So at the end of the course the instructor wanted to know where people were going from there, and I said that I would like to do interior design but I didn't know if I needed yet another degree to do this, maybe I could just take some courses. And her answer was "You don't know how much you don't actually know. You have kind of a matured viewpoint when it comes to design having been exposed to it, but you don't really have any technical skills or history at all. You can pick out a good palette, but that's not being an interior designer...if you want to do this, get a degree."

I look at a ton of real estate, both in person and online, and I can tell which properties were designed by a contractor or had an interior designer, (architects are sometimes strange about interior layouts, too); I can usually tell if there has been an interior designer involved in the furnishings and decor, whether it's been a decorator, the contractor's wife, or an amateur.

The taste doesn't necessarily come into it: I think some interior designers have repellent taste but good taste or bad, there are earmarks that differentiate a room done by someone with technical training vs. done by an amateur.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The design process is so intimate. The reasons many come for help with their home are often because of life changing events. Divorce, death, birth, job changes, job losses....

A designer should understand the emotional component of the job and be prepared to don the psychologist cap when necessary. Simply shutting up and listening goes a long way to learning what the client needs.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 7:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

there are earmarks that differentiate a room done by someone with technical training vs. done by an amateur.

Name some. I think it'll be fun. We can all compare notes.

This may not be the kind of thing you're thinking about, but scale is one tell-tale earmark to me. Most amateurs are really bad at it--huge looming armoires, lots of itsy bitsy twee dressers, that kind of thing. Editing is another one.

Has everyone on this forum seen the Sweeby test from the Kitchen Forum? I think everyone starting a design project should begin with a self-assessment like that one.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

maqrcolo - How about badly hung art? Too small for the wall, too high above the furniture, frames relentlessly matched to the chair's legs?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 9:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can usually tell if an interior designer was in on the contstruction phase with lighting, millwork, fixtures and finishes. Sometimes this is nobody but the contractor, sometimes it is the contractor's wife maybe. Sometimes it is the homeowner.

If it is the contractor, the electrical and lighting will be done to meet code, whereas if an interior designer in on it, usually there will be better switch and outlet placement.

Millwork will tend to be really decent if a designer is involved, and even in the designer is not so great there will be more consistency between the various elements than if the contractor gets to install the combination of what is most commonly available in the area.

If there is a contractor's wife involved, you can usually tell in the bathroom and kitchen fixtures and finishes: there is someone involved early enough in the construction process to drive the selections, but it will often be a variety of fixtures and finishes that work together in each spot, but it looks like someone was trying out different schemes in different areas--and it's usually popular/trendy, meaning readily available.

A designer will sometimes get a bit carried away here too, trying to be too trendy, but it is usually a bit more cohesive and earlier on the curve than above.

If this is a house that is not a new house or new rehab and has been lived in, there is key area that tells if an interior designer has been involved:

Much Better Quality and More Appropriate Window Treatments.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes--window treatments are absolutely a big tell.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Artful mixing of the fine and the funky.
Inexpensive or treasured odd bits worked into a beautifully proportioned, expertly colored, carefully edited, well-lit whole.

Staying away from the middle - choosing the top-of-the-line where quality really matters, and the simplest, least expensive in other areas.

One fabulous antique paired with neutral colored, re-hemmed-by-hand, perfectly ironed and hung stock curtain panels, and a flea market side chair. One gorgeous authentic Persian carpet and sisal everywhere else. That kind of thing.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 9:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think lamps are another big tell. I was at my friend's house for the first time in a while and instantly asked if she used her same designer again and she asked how i knew she used a designer resently because nothing major was changed, but i noticed large, new, magnificant table lamps in her entry and knew a pro had helped.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 9:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And lamp SHADES. Usually, unless the base is something special, most of the price could be in the shade. You can get inexpensive shades that look presentable but they can dry out pretty quickly.

When my mother had to replace a bunch of lampshades, probably in the late '90s, she said with her usually directness. "I am not paying $XXX for a good lampshade or to get these recovered. Pretty soon I will be too old to care and then I will be dead. I won't get my money's worth like I did the first time".

So, the lamps got stock shades that are maybe a little too small, a little not right but presentable enough. I noticed the last time I was home that a number of shades are hanging in shreds on the inside and the trim is barely hanging on. These were not extra cheap stock shades either, just not great ones, so I don't know what will happen this time around: soon my dad will have lamps with completely disintegrated shades. These are all big lamps, too, not easy to find something at Walmart for a real-sized lamp.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 1:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have enjoyed reading the comments and thanks for starting this conversation. It reinforces for me why I finally hired an ID for the major rooms when we built our house. Not only did she keep me on track with some difficult kitchen design decisions, she picked bedroom fabrics that we lived with for 12 years until deciding to redecorate about 6 months ago. She has helped with several other drapery and furniture decisions over the years and has been worth every nickel as far as I'm concerned. Have I agreed with everything she recommended? No, but I'm not afraid to tell her so and we start looking for something else. The key is don't get in a hurry to make a decision. But I value the fact she can come out, measure, show me multiple fabrics to choose from (including price), and seems to be able to blend just what I'm looking for in the end at a reasonable price. And it's well-constsructed. Yes, I know she's making a profit and I have to factor that in as I gasp a bit when I see the bill, but I love the result. I have to remind myself that I also gasped when my last pair of glasses cost me over $500 and I kicked myself harder because I lost a pair.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Has anyone ever read How to Work with an Interior Designer or something similar? Seems like a reasonable place to start.

There are also a variety of articles that turn up with a Google search--some good, some not so good. Do people try to read things like this before hiring a designer?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I, too love this thread. I just recently hired a ID, we didn't do so well together. Basically I think my taste is so great, I wasn't really willing to listen to much she had to say. But in my defense, she went places, charged me for it, and I didn't ask her too. I ended up making most of the choices. I am going to be doing my kitchen and want so much to have someone I can work with and that will bring me creative ideas while still listening to me. I have had some issues with glaze on my cabinets, if it hadn't been for the Merlot comment I would have thought I was in on that conversation. I have stepped on my foot along the way. I do think that owner, ID, and GC all seem to think they didn't cause the problem, it is a CYA and wasn't my fault circle.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 6:58PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Interesting all the comments re: lampshades. My grandmother sewed lampshades, and that's how she helped put my dad through college in the late 1950's-early 1960's. She must've done a good job if she could put him through school using what she made!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 7:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

But in my defense, she went places, charged me for it, and I didn't ask her too.

An ID is not a dog, and does not get lead around on a leash. If she thinks of a showroom that may have the right fabric or whatnot, she will not call to ask you permission. If you think she should, then you're better suited to DIY.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 7:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

marcolo, your response is very black or white ... your response says that winesnob should be DIY or the ID should do whatever she wants. No other option? ... obviously there is a gray middle area, where it is a win/win for Id and customer.

My own ID has gone off and searched for stuff after I sent an email listing out what we were working on and it did not include the item she spent time on. Luckily this time I liked the item, but after this and the other thread, I will be much quicker to put a stop to any work not agreed to before.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No one should be led around on a leash but at 200 an hour it behooves them to tell you what direction they are going, especially if they know you are doing some of the selections yourself. It is not fair for them to take all the liberties unless at the beginning you have said, I don't care, your ideas, go for it, Carte Blanc.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The Interior Designer is put in between a Rock and a Hard Place then, when it comes to billing.

Interior Designers who work on mark up get accused of presenting certain selections to the client because they are More Expensive than something else ONLY as a means of squeezing more money out of the client then, not because it may be a better selection.

The Interior Designer who works on an hourly rate gets accused of padding the hours, using hours to do unauthorized designing or sample shopping or whatever. It becomes a no-win situation.

I COULD spend 8 hours looking for fabric for one piece of furniture --I know I have for myself--but do you think I would or could charge a client $800 for the selection of one fabric? In all honesty I think the hours spent tend to be more than the hours billed out for this type of thing.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I can agree with that Pal because I have spent countless hours making my choices for my renovation. And I do think they are between that rock and hard place, do you think many issues between client and ID are often communication?... or a lack of. An experienced, educated designer should be compensated for her success, I would never not be willing to pay but I am from the Golden Rule saying, he who makes the gold, makes the rules. That very first meeting sets the tone for success....(with a few really good magazine and GW, of course)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What you said was not, "she started on projects I hadn't assigned," but specifically that she "went places." I took this literally. Did you mean it figuratively? If so, then your point is valid. But if you meant, I didn't ask her to go to the Schumacher showroom or the stone yard, then that's a completely invalid expectation. You don't control an independent professional's movements; she is not your employee.

I think this goes to a larger misunderstanding. A designer is not your pair of hands or your assistant. If that is what you want, then you need to say that up front, so that the 90+ percent of designers who will not work under those constraints can get out while the going is good, and you can save yourself some time and money.

Selecting a fabric takes far, far longer than 8 hours. I have done it multiple times. I have told designers I will never again accompany them to showrooms because it is too exhausting, especially on top of draping a bagful of swatches around your room and staring at them for two weeks afterwards. This is hard stuff.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 9:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This happened a few hours ago. Talk about a coincidence...

Customer: I worked with a designer picking out paint and the room was just painted today. I hate it.

Me: What happened?

Customer: The room was a reddish color and I asked for help toning it down. I liked the red but it was to much.

Me: What color did you have it painted?

Customer: Off-white

Me: Why didn't you tell her you didn't want off-white?

Customer: I don't know.... I thought she knew what I wanted.

Me: But you didn't want off white?

Customer: No

Me: You should have spoken up.

Customer: I know. But I thought she knew what she was doing.

Another frustrated design consumer, but who's to blame? Both the customer and the designer I guess. I just sent her the link to Houzz. It will be interesting to see what she gravitates towards.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 10:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

and another interesting coincidence...anyone see the NYT article, In Defense of the Decorator, today?

All these forces have created a climate in which, as Stephen Drucker, who has been editor in chief of House Beautiful and Martha Stewart Living, put it: "It's not so cool anymore to credit the decorator. You're supposed to have curated your own eclectic, wonderful life, not order Mario by the yard."

Here is a link that might be useful: In Defense of the Decorator

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 11:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was actually *In the Room once when a client whose entire floorplan I rearranged said "Yes!", when a neighbor asked, "Was this all your idea?"

She had been totally against it, actually.

She did backpedal but the "Yes!" came out so smoothly and the truth seemed a bit harder.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 11:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Deedee, thank you so much for posting that link to the NYT article. I just howled over my coffee when I read it, thinking, we just wrote that article right here!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 11:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I was acutally in a room once when a ID took the credit for items I had chosen, I think all this could work both ways, there are more often talents on both sides. I am curious to know how many experienced, educated designers help DIY on this forum that can't afford the $$$ for someone to assist them. IMHO this was a SlamDance thread tonight.....

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 2:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I am curious to know how many experienced, educated designers help DIY on this forum that can't afford the $$$ for someone to assist them."

I sure do.

It often ends up DIF, too. (Do It For)

I barter jobs, I do jobs for very low rates because they are interesting, I do stuff for free for people I like.

But I also have a Day Job. I don't think a designer should necessarily be expected to cut their fees for someone who can't afford it.

In my Day job I also work about half the time providing services to people for Free. I get paid for it, but not nearly as much as I would if I were in private practice during that time.

I am curious as to how many experienced, educated, Sales Reps, Account Managers, Bankers, Administrators, Accountants , etc. on this forum provide discounted services for people who can't afford them? :)

Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers are all expected to do things for free (Doctors and Lawyers because people perceive they make too much money--do Financiers do stuff for free, I wonder?) I always find this question about giving away services interesting, because there are plenty of professions where it would almost Never be a consideration.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And actually, aren't the educated, experienced designers who frequent this and the kitchen forums already doing this?

We give people opinions and suggestions all the time for DIYers in here...aren't we doing that?

At the same time, though, we are reading comments or entire threads essentially criticizing the profession. :)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Every profession is under fire these days, because people feel so free to take shots. The danger of an anonymous thread is that it can lead to a kind of road rage - people saying things they would never say face to face, behaving less civilly than they would in person.

Which is one of the things I like so much about this forum. Once in a while, we veer dangerously close to what my young nephew calls the "You suck! No, you suck!" mentality of a lot of on-line opinion threads.

But we always seem to pull ourselves back, we are almost always understanding, and the interesting thing about a thread like this, which does get a little heated, is that it reveals just how frustrated people can become on both sides of the equation when they are not respected, valued, considered, and heard.

It's actually a very good thing for us in the trade, and for everyone not in the profession but wanting good design, to hear clearly just how badly we both can behave, and where we need to be more responsible and more sensitive.

I keep remembering the early days of the Carter administration (I lived in the District then), when all these whip-smart people from the Deep South came to town. I thought, great! Now a lot of people who think all Southerners wear baggy overalls, spit tobacco juice, read at a first grade level, and hate everybody who isn't their cousin, will have to change their assumptions.

They didn't. They just thought all those gracious women and brilliant lawyers were the exception.

I think we all do it.
"Designers are snobs and crooks. Present company excepted."
"Clients are morons who don't have a clue, and want to reset the meter to zero every time they change their minds, except for you, of course."

It's a deep seated human urge to reinforce what we already think, particularly when our notions are challenged.

But every scientist knows that the phrase "The exception proves the rule" is, not to put too fine a point on it, horse hockey.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think plenty of designers help in this forum too. At least as much as you can with say, one picture, no idea of who they are, where they live, how they live, what's the budget, what's going on in adjacent rooms....

pal, your client saying 'yes, it was my idea!' is the ideal outcome for a successful room design IMO.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have not yet worked with an interior designer because until recently I wanted my home to reflect my creativity but now I have a few areas that so need a professional's eye and help. I have used a landscape designer before and I found that though it was hard to relinquish my control and vision, in the end the design is so far beyond what I could have ever imagined and had I micromanaged every step and choice the outcome would not have been nearly as wonderful.
I feel that when hiring any professional,be it a lawyer, doctor, designer, plumber or any trade skill, it is up to me, as the client, to step back and let them do their thing. Once you have choosen to hire someone for their special skill, training and talent it is time to accept that they do know more than I and it is time for me to take a second seat and listen and only offer imput when asked.

To all the pros in the forum, thanks for your interest, time and skills. You are all very generous.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am always confounded by the professional bashing that goes on in all the THS forums (check out the BAH posts on architects, they make the designer bashing threads look tame). One would think laypeople interested in design and decorating would understand that creating a space is not easy, especially when so many self report going to a designer when they have exhausted their own ideas or patience with themselves. Good design is, IMO (and I have never taken a single design class, so take this FWIW) an amalgam of art, science, need, want, effort, compromise and affordability, all elements that struggle to be combined even moderately well in the best of circumstances. So when someone who is already frustrated with the time, money and effort they have spent trying to do things themselves or with the helpful (?) input of friends and family, it's not surprising they blame the designer, it's easier than looking objectively at the situation and it's much easier to feel that someone else, in this case the designer, has wasted your money. No one likes to blame themselves for financial mistakes like, say, the dozens of paint samples (and more than a few gallons) languishing in her basement, taunting the homeowner regularly.

I have never used a designer, I arrogantly feel I don't need one because I like my own taste and, oh, yeah, cuz I am far too cheap and controlling to let someone make choices for me. We have, however, used an architect, twice, and while that wasn't cheap, it was valuable, and we came out with a better product for their involvement both times. Our architect made our ideas better and added some great ones of her/his own (we have used two different ones), and we all worked hard at communicating and understanding each others priorities, thoughts and opinions (and by all I mean me, the architect, mr. sandyponder and our kiddo, never assume that any professional can mind read the familial dynamics).

Interesting discussion and I appreciate all the thoughts.


    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 12:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I like the information on this thread and have shared it with my friends
REAL eye opener for a reality check! Thanks you all for sharing the information here!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 6:25AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Why do you decorate?
I'm sure this has come up a million times before ....
Help!! Has anyone seen this rug??
I saved this rug in one of my files last week. Now...
Area Rugs - Will Viscose rug last?
Hi, I am in the midst of redecorating my LR & DR....
We could have some fun with this house
This house is in a town not far from me. The price...
Family Room - Tiling the Fireplace
Moving at typical glacial speed, I am now turning to...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™