WHAT TO EXPECT FROM AN IN-HOME DESIGN CONSULTATION
January and February saw a flurry of in-home design consultations. It seems as though the homeowners who called me had a new year’s resolution to tackle the design problems that had been annoying them! One common thread was that most of these homeowners had not worked with a professional designer before and were not quite sure what to expect. It may even be said that some of them were a bit self-conscious about contacting a design professional—like they should just know how to solve confusing design issues on their own or, that their homes should be ‘perfect’ already! That is never my feeling—for most of us, our homes are a work-in-progress and I am always eager to assist.
So what should you expect from an In-home Design Consultation? Well, the answer lies in the question—what would you like it to be? Generally, folks are bringing me in because they know something is wrong but are not sure what to do about it. Not to worry, this challenge always brings out the designer in me. With years of experience, it is second nature for me to look at a space and know quite immediately where the problem lies and how to address it. Rarely—though sometimes it happens—the space was so badly conceived or has been badly altered that it requires more sustained study to make order out of chaos. Yet, even this does not preclude having an insightful conversation about the design problem in great detail while approaching the situation from various angles. A lot of insight and even breakthroughs can be gained in doing this.
More often than not, I feel that my clients are consulting me because they want to see their space in a new way—in a way they are incapable of envisioning. I use my communication skills to talk with them about this aspect or that aspect in order to help them to understand what exactly is going on with their space. I will doggedly pursue this problem solving with them until I hear them say, ‘O.K.—now. . . I get it!’ Once that is achieved, we can then talk possibilities for how things might be different. Of course, this will be in more general terms but what is crucial is that there has been a shift away from a very stuck place to new creative possibilities which moments ago seemed impossible.
Depending on the client, the nature of the project and the length of time that the client has budgeted for the consultation, many different aspects can be discussed. In an in-home consultation, the client hires the designer at an hourly rate (including travel time to and from the project) which allows the client to ask whatever questions they want. Some recent questions have been . . . ‘should we move the kitchen into the garage’, ‘what color should I paint this room with this tile floor, which I love’, ‘what can we possibly do with that fireplace—I just can’t look at it another day’, or ‘I can’t figure out how to furnish this space with a door there and the fireplace over there’. Any and all questions are valid questions to ask. I arrive at your house ready to respond to your questions while lending whatever support I can to assist you in developing solutions to the most vexing of design problems.
Rarely do I leave a client’s home scratching my head; but if I should, my immediate desire is to get to my desk to work out a solution that will delight my client and . . . my designer within. Solving design problems is the first order of what I do as a professional; then, and only then, is it on to making the space comfortable and warmly beautiful!