When potential clients contact me to work with them for kitchen and bath design, commercial or office design, residential design, furniture selections, window treatments, area rugs, and paint colors, I like to give them a quiz and I ask lots of questions before we start working together. And I encourage potential clients to ask me lots of questions, too!
What will be involved in the project? New construction or renovation? Kitchen and bath design? Furniture and area rugs? Paint color schemes? Custom window treatments? Art? This provides a useful framework to kick off project discussions.
What are some of your favorite colors? Are they bold or muted? How much color would you like to see in your home or office (or these days, home office)? Do you like a neutral background with accents of color, or do you go “all in” with color? Colors can be both trendy and timeless. For example, blue is very hot right now for everything from upholstery fabrics to rugs to kitchen cabinets, but blue is a timeless color that will always be popular. Green is moving up, with sage green or moss green kitchen cabinets all the rage for 2021. But I’d be happy with a green kitchen for years. And, coral and peach are both very popular this year, and will create some beautiful interiors whether used for paint colors, upholstery fabrics or accents for beige or gray based interiors.
How much pattern do you like in rooms or fabrics? I provide examples in case people aren’t sure, to help them visualize the possibilities. Some clients like blending and layering patterns to create a vivid and multi-faceted interior. Others prefer a calmer, possibly monochromatic palette with some pops of pattern. Both are great. My job is to help clients recognize their likes and dislikes and to implement their preferences.
What style feels “right” to you – traditional furnishings, contemporary/modern, or somewhere in between? Formal surroundings or casual? This is important and should be a consistent thread throughout a home. People tend to like certain categories or types of furniture. It’s perfectly OK to blend styles and time periods, but they should complement each other and we should avoid a mishmash of too many styles within a room. Also, I’m a proponent of consistency from room to room so that a home does not end up with different sections looking like a furniture showroom, but rather looks like a collection of great things that clients have acquired over the years with a common thread. And, things can vary from home to home. I’ve worked with a client to furnish two very different homes (one is her primary residence and the other is more of a vacation home). The primary residence features beautiful but rustic antiques, a neutral color scheme, fairly traditional upholstered items, and lots of personal touches like antique bird prints and nature prints. The vacation home is much more contemporary and colorful. Both are definitely comfortable and relaxed.
Where do you spent the most time (for example kitchen, home office, family room, sun room)? I like to ask this question because it helps the clients and me focus on the room or rooms most important to them, in terms of budget and spending, and on time spent on shopping and accessorizing. If a client spends most of his or her day in a home office, I want to be sure to make it appealing, functional and interesting. If a client spends most of his or her day in the kitchen as the home’s hub, it should be a well-appointed, beautiful and complete kitchen. Family rooms and living rooms are always important and should be comfortable and functional no matter what the style. You get the idea!
What is your budget? This is a key question and should be addressed very early in a project. It’s important to hit the “sweet spot” for clients in terms of budget, so that I know how to best spend my time making selections and so that I provide a pricing framework for clients that works. There is huge variety in the furnishings marketplace and it’s key that clients are comfortable with the recommendations that I make. This applies to both ends of the spectrum.
This is just a glimpse of all of the information I’ll gather to help a client create great looking surroundings. The more info we share to get started, the better! The design process is very collaborative and personalized, and it’s very important to me to help my clients achieve beautiful results.