So, I’ve hired a wardrobe consultant twice in my life when I had the realization that my decision-making process was flawed when making style selections for myself. I was consistently picking things that were too flashy, too gaudy, or too bright. I was choosing patterns that were too busy, or the selections were ostentatious and revealed lower-class judgments. Not refined! And through working with a professional, I also learned that I was choosing things that weren’t flattering to me or useful, either by color or size or the way they fit.
It was quite like the process of hiring my branding firm and their critique of my favorite font for my tagline! It just missed the mark when compared to the impact I wanted to have.
This metaphor is useful when working with clients who have come to the point where they realize that their taste and their judgment will only get them so far. Eventually, you arrive at the point where you need expert guidance and a level of design that can take you to the next level. That’s why they hire me.
My job is not only to shape the space in the best visually proportional way. It is also to suggest colors and materials that are timeless and provide the environment desired. I also prevent my clients from doing blingy inappropriate things!
My clients pay me to say no to them. They are not paying me to say, “yes” to everything. (Otherwise, I could’ve just hired a draftsman.)
Sometimes people understand this going in when they hire me. But then they sometimes forget when I present the design to them. They begin arbitrarily making changes or pulling things out of the design or attempting to make swaps that are in bad taste. This can happen because they are attached to their predisposed habits. Sometimes they think they know what they like, even as it is out of alignment with their desired outcome for their space. Sometimes, they attempt to combine different styles, textures, and colors that aren’t complimentary simply because they have varied tastes and an eclectic design palette.
When I talk about dressing a space, I’m not talking about fashion like recent Paris shows where the guys look ridiculous…I’m not trying to make clients look ridiculous… quite the contrary. I’m trying to take them to Nordstrom’s and Saks, not Costco.
No gets us to a wholehearted “Yes!”
When clients give me permission to say no to them early on, later when I present the design, if they start clinging to their old habits, I can point to that and say, “Here we go! Moment of truth! Time to let go and trust!” This is when we get the best result—one that both adheres to solid design and provides an end result the clients love more than they ever imagined.