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.
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”.
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. Picture 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.