Style Wars Designer vs Client.  Photo by DTTSP Do Interior Designers design for my style?

One of the biggest reasons people are unsure about hiring a designer is being pushed into a style they do not feel is “them”.   Design is a collaboration and as a designer, you must find the balance between the client’s opinions and your professional opinion.  As a client, you must value the designer's professional opinion and remember that there is a reason you have hired them.   If you are working with or considering working with a decorator, I highly recommend reading the article, "Why Hire a Decorator" by Elle Decor in which the quotes in this post were taken.  This article is now part of my new client packet.  I get great satisfaction hearing a client tell me they never would have selected that countertop or that paint color, but they love it and wouldn’t want it any other way.

"For my house in Vermont," Drew Katz remembers, "Ernie (De La Torre) proposed a ceiling fixture that was like an eight-foot motorized zeppelin. It was shaped like a dragon, with a tongue that goes in and out, and I thought, 'I don't know about this.' But it's turned out to be everyone's favorite piece, including my own."

I get doubtful looks and have to continually reassure clients of the process and explain to them the reasons why (when let's be honest, what I really want to say is, "Because I said so.")  This is part of the job, because we see the end result in our mind that clients don't see as easily.

"I had some trouble," says (client) Siri, "especially at the beginning, understanding what Suzanne (Rheinstein)was trying to do. It's easy to reject an idea if you've never seen it before."

Before you hire a decorator look at their portfolio and see if you like what they've done in the past.  Designer's have a sort of design signature - styles, products, materials, that they gravitate towards.  In the simplest terms, designer's select things that we like and we're not all the same.  If you enjoy the work they have done previously then you'll probably be a good fit.  So, if a friend whose house you would never choose to live in yourself, gives you a glowing recommendation for her decorator, it is a good idea to look elsewhere for a designer whose style you love.

"Alexa (Hampton) is an artist. She has a palette and a vision. If you're going to spend a lot of time trying to change that vision, you've lost what you're buying."

Designer's want you to be thrilled with the completed project.  So the right designer will collaborate with you and get to know you in a way that you may not know yourself.  They will learn how you live and translate that into a customized design.  The right decorator will elevate your style and give you the house you didn't know you could have if you're open to the process.

With all this talk about being open to the process, you also shouldn't be a doormat.  Even if you want to give your designer carte blanche, be sure to fully explain your lifestyle, what you like and don't and be very clear as to what you are looking for.  Designer's are trained to look at the whole picture for you - lifestyle, taste, budget and by detailing this in the beginning the process will move smoother.

If you truly hate something, tell your designer, but if you are just apprehensive - put the trust in your designer.

If you have definite preferences, talk to your designer - do you prefer a super cushy extra down sofa?  Tell her.  Do you have warm memories of your grandmother's floral wallpaper?  Maybe you think of the detention room in your high school every time you see grey walls.  By expressing these thoughts you open the dialog and further the possibilities, which will bring you closer to getting the house you've dreamed of.  But be open to new possibilities, because perhaps that designer will do amazing things you've never dreamed of with grey walls - banishing your nefarious time in high school to the past.

Final thought - Design is a collaboration and relies on communication.

Tell me, are you afraid of being pushed into a style that is not "you'?