Working with an interior designer is the surest way we know to guarantee a beautiful, updated home that reflects your tastes.  We love working with designers, and your project will be in good hands.

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But homeowners can unknowingly make life difficult for their designer, and get in the way of their own project’s success.

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Here’s what NOT to do when you’re working with an interior designer!

 

1.   Liking “everything”

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Do you love everything you see?

 

While we all value positivity and seeing the best in everything, this can actually make life challenging for your interior designer, who can’t read minds.

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You hired your designer to take your preferences, come up with a design vision, and bring it to life.  The key words here?  “Your preferences.”  Do love mid-century modern, and English country traditional, and also modern farmhouse?  Drawn to everything from “scandi” to “boho” to “minimalist”?

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  • Almost any style done well  (that’s the key)  will appeal to many people, but your designer is trying to design YOUR home.  Do him or her a favor: pick a style, and then let them run with it!

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2.   Liking “nothing”

 

This is the old “I’ll know it when I see it”, and nothing drives designers, builders or architects crazier!

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Our design choices aren’t limitless, and neither is your designer’s time (or patience).  If you’ve been presented with 5, or 7, or eleven choices for a sofa that all meet your criteria, then I’ll say it:  it’s time to pick one.  If your designer’s selections are appropriate to the overall style of your home, contribute elegantly to the vision of your project, meet specifications and are within your budget, please don’t reject them out-of-hand because they don’t “feel right”..

 

  • A homeowner who flips through good options and says, “No, that’s not it…”,  “Nope”,  “No….”,   “Close, but not quite right….”,   “Almost…”, and ends with, “I guess I’ll just know it when I see it!” will drive their designer to early retirement.

 

 

3.   Continuing to look online for that one perfect piece, even after decisions have been made

 

This is related to #2 above.  The search for perfection will not make your project any better, and could actually make it worse.  

 

If you have pushed yourself to commit and made a selection from among several excellent options, then congratulate yourself!  You’ve made some real progress.  Now don’t go backwards!

 

  • Your innate anxiety about trusting someone else to fulfill your dreams may rear its ugly head, and push you get on your laptop and browse “just a little more”.  Don’t succumb!!

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4.   Thinking that there’s only ONE perfect way to design your dream home

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This is a common fallacy.  You may feel there’s only one “right” way to design your home or execute your project, but that’s actually not the case!.

 

All those gorgeous projects you saw in your designer’s portfolio?  Those lovely projects could have been executed in a dozen different ways.  The custom sofa in that luxurious living room, the fabulous wallpaper in that to-die-for dining room, the light fixture in the foyer . . . your designer could have made those projects look equally spectacular with another sofa or a different wallpaper.

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  • Remember:  It’s not the individual elements that make great design, it’s how they’re layered and brought together.  There are many “right” ways to do this.

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Just as there’s no one “perfect” wedding dress or one “right” way to cook a delicious pasta dish, there’s no single ideal way to design a home you’ll love.  That’s great news!  It means you don’t have to agonize over whether you somehow missed out on some perfect ideal, and can enjoy the gorgeous home coming to life right in front of you.

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Which brings us to the next point:

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5.   Using the phrase “dream home”

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We’d love to strike the phrase “dream home” (and its related phrase, “forever home”) from the vernacular.

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With a respectful nod to HGTV, we think these phrases bring out people’s worst perfectionist tendencies and anxieties.  No single home can fulfill every fantasy.  Even Cinderella’s castle would buckle under the pressure.  Please don’t set your designer up for failure.  Isn’t what you really want a beautiful home that reflects your tastes, is comfortable for you and your family, and brings you joy when you get home each day?  It won’t be perfect in every detail, it won’t magically take away your real-life problems, and it may not be right for you “forever”..

 

But if it’s beautiful, tasteful, is unique to you, and you love it, then that’s the goal!

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Our next design project “don’t”:

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6.  Balking at paying your interior designer for their time

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We’ve worked with dozens of exemplary interior designers, who exhibit the highest degree of integrity and professionalism.  We have tremendous respect for them.  This is not an easy way to earn a living!  Every designer we know really wants to give their clients a gorgeous home and will go out of their way to do so.  We’ve seen them spend significant extra time on a project, without charging, to get the best result.  They don’t want to nickel-and-dime their clients, and are billing for only the most essential time they’ve invested.  Please don’t insult them by questioning their work ethic, expressing doubts about their professionalism, or feigning surprise at their invoice.

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Side note:  If you have good taste, you may think interior design is “easy”.  It isn’t.  A designer doesn’t just pick pretty fabrics, and it isn’t just a fun hobby for them.

 

 

A design professional usually has a degree in his or her field, and years of training and experience.  I’ve taken enough design courses to “know what I don’t know”.  A professional designer is well versed in everything from “slip ratings” for tile, to fire codes for fabrics, to the heat resistance of various countertops.  He or she will know which rug fibers to avoid if you have pets, where to install your kitchen appliances for optimized work flow, and the best non-glare task lighting to use for your built-in desk.  The bar is even higher for commercial and hospitality design (office buildings, hotels, restaurants), where public safety is involved.

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  • A great interior designer makes all this look easy, but don’t be fooled.  This kind of training and experience is worth its weight in gold.

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And the most egregious “don’t” we’ve seen when working with an interior designer:

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7.   Trying to go “around” your interior designer, just to save a buck!

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You wouldn’t go “around” your real estate agent to trick them out of their commission.  Please don’t do this to the designer you’ve entrusted with your home!

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Trying to find that same wallpaper through a cheaper source online, soliciting your designer’s subcontractors to see if they’ll work for you “on the side” for less . . . as wallpaper installers and home painters, we’ve seen both of these scenarios happen to fantastic design professionals, many times.  We’ve even had homeowners ask us for color advice even though, unbeknownst to us, they’re working with a designer who has already made color selections.

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Please don’t do this!  It may seem like a harmless second opinion to you, but it derails your designer’s vision, squanders all the time they’ve already spent, and will make them wonder what else you’ve been doing behind their back.

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  • Even if your designer operates on a flat fee structure, trying to go around them either to save money (or to get advice from another designer on the side) just creates an atmosphere of distrust, shows a lack of faith in your designer, and is very bad manners.  At worst, it’s downright unethical.  Most designers will fire you for it.

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The bottom line?

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Please trust and respect your interior designer!  

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Your designer can make a complicated and confusing process be much less stressful, will save you time and money, and will ultimately deliver a gorgeous outcome you’ll enjoy for years.  Please don’t let perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, or worse get in the way of you ending up with a home you’ll love!

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A big “thank you” to KBK to the Trade in San Antonio, TX for letting us shoot our “designer at work” header photo in their showroom!   And if you’d like to see some of the fantastic projects we’ve worked on that were spearheaded by an interior designer, check out our interior painting, cabinet painting, and wallpaper installation galleries!