Why don’t we give or sell “tips”? Because a little information is a dangerous thing!

Case Studies

I have always loved the quote, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  I propose that when it comes to most things, particularly your home design projects, a little information is a dangerous thing.

Recently, Good Space was invited to do a voluntary block of time to offer 10 minute free design consultations at a home and garden type show.

Me (Dwaina Sprague) on Vancouver's Urban Rush.

Me (Dwaina Sprague) on Vancouver’s Urban Rush.

The offer intended that this event would give our company exposure to potential clients and the show guests a chance to be face to face with an interior designer to help solve their design and decorating problems. Sort of like Lucy in Charlie Brown only instead of psychiatric help, attendees line up and get design advice, or as I call them “tips”.

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Within a few days of this we received a request through our website asking for a couple of hours of consultation – “tips”, no actual design work required. Just tell me a few things “tips” and I will take it from there.  Well that settled it ‐ I took it as a sign – time to speak up and start the conversation to clear up this misconception about what an interior designer can do for you…. spoiler alert…. it does not involve tips.

I want to state loud and clear that you will never, I mean never get what you need to solve your design challenge in a brief consultation with an interior designer or decorator.
Would you defend yourself in court with a few tips from a lawyer or repair your car with a few tips from a mechanic? Whether the consult happens in a big exciting venue or in your home, you will not get what you need. In all likelihood you will start to implement your “tips” and more questions will pop up. Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 9.36.12 AMPicture the gopher game at Chuckie Cheese, you clobber the gopher with your mallet and a couple more of them stick their heads up. This is really very frustrating for people and their problems do not get solved – they expand.

You may look around your room or rooms and see what you perceive is missing or needed.  Based on your beliefs about what the problems are you formulate your questions and set out to get answers or solutions.  But here is the hitch; your questions are based on your beliefs about the problems, not necessarily on what the problems actually are.  In my experience there is often a deeper story to a client’s dissatisfaction with their home or rooms, and there are most certainly more steps to achieving their desired results than the client anticipates.

When we start working with a client – regardless of the scale of the project we ask numerous questions. We dig, we define and we get to the essence of things.  This process invariably plays out that one question leads to another and another and so on. We search for the right questions before we begin to develop answers or solutions.  In order to be purposeful and effective we have to define the desired outcome, yes, even on a very small project. We do not give answers until we discern what the actual questions are and we make sure the solutions we offer are well stated and documented so the client and or their contractor can implement them successfully and completely.

Creating interiors that are functional and beautiful is a holistic endeavor made up of hundreds of interconnected considerations, decisions and actions.  The process of good design involves a lot more listening and gathering information than giving answers. Regardless of the size of the project, when we offer a little information out of the larger context of the whole project we have done less to serve the client than if we didn’t show up at all.


Author: Dwaina

I am devoted to making people love living in their homes. I have done that with absolute joy for most of my life and as a career for the past 20 years or so... I am a homebody – I do not actively seek adventure but I have had adventures. I believe home is the most sacred and important place in the world. I say I grew up on a farm – but I doubt technically it would qualify as a farm. Five acres – one milk cow – one calf - we ate them when they grew up, lots of chickens and a few pigs – we ate them too… I was that kid who dragged rugs and furniture out to the orchard and set up outdoor rooms. It mixed my two favourite things – outside and comfortable furniture. My friends and I would sleep outside in my “rooms”. It was magical because my ceiling was full of stars. I have lived in small houses, big houses, basement suites, cottages, condos and apartments. I have built and I have renovated houses. For a short time in my young life I was without a home – this changed me. I have lived with pets, wanted and unwanted – rodents are unwanted… I have lived in a house richly full with the raising of my four children. I have had the tremendous joy of my children carrying my grandchildren into my home. I have had my home become an “empty nest” and my life shrunken and shattered with the loss of my beloved husband. Home and my people there have always been my comfort. It does not matter where home is, it only matters that you are in it and that you find comfort there and that is why I do what I do.
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