Remote consulting has been working out really well for my clients and me. Of course, it’s quite different from meeting in person, but I’ve been able to accomplish alot with clients via emails, phone calls and video chats. Here are some examples to illustrate how things have worked out:
I’ve specified lighting for three different new construction projects that were nearing completion when COVID guidelines and stay-at-home recommendations were put into place. I reviewed all of the lighting locations and requirements, either on-site using social distancing rules or remotely, by looking at floor plans and drawings and confirming details with the electrician. I then put together a list, confirm the client’s budget, discuss the overall style, look and finishes that the client desires, and start putting together a lighting proposal. I often start with the dining room chandelier or kitchen pendant lights, as they tie into the homes’ design and can steer the selection of styles and finishes. I emailed photos or links for each lighting fixture, fine-tuned choices with the clients, put together orders with my preferred vendors, and done! P.S. – one client had looked on line for various fixtures and some of his choices helped emphasize why a designer’s eye and expertise is important. For example, he picked out a very small chandelier for a very large family room with a cathedral ceiling. I helped him realize his choice would look tiny in the expansive space, and I made some suggestions for fixtures in the appropriate size. His comment to me was “Wow, I’m glad you’re working in this!”
I’ve selected porch furniture for a client whom I’ve worked with for a long time (on two different houses). The client’s Cape Cod summer house has a beautiful screened porch that has stood up well over time, but the existing porch furniture needed refreshing. We discussed styles and materials and decided that all-weather wicker would be the best choice. The previous furniture was good quality natural wicker that lasted for several years, but it eventually gave in to the elements and became worn looking (even though the client moved it into storage for the winter). The all-weather wicker will be durable and will stand up to moisture and will be easy to clean and maintain. Sunbrella cushions will last a long time too. I sent links and photos to provide options for the client and quickly got the job done. The furniture is on the way and should arrive at the client’s home soon.
I’ve recommended and specified paint colors for a couple of residential projects and a commercial project that were all underway. For all, I talked with my clients about their overall color preferences and about the colors that I thought would work best. I then ordered paint color samples from Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, took a peek at them to be sure they’d work (there’s nothing like seeing paint samples in person rather than online) and sent them along to the various clients. Then, with a phone call or email to follow up, we were able to finalize the color choices. I also recommend the paint finishes, for example – flat or matte, eggshell, satin, etc. depending on the intended use. Planning ahead is key to allow time for ordering samples. They usually arrive in a couple of days but can sometimes take a little longer. The jobs were all able to move along as planned.
I’ve helped a new client plan a bathroom renovation project that’ll start up soon. So far, we’ve selected the vanity cabinet style and finish, counter top material, tile, faucets and towel bars, lighting, and paint color. For this project, finish samples are key. Through preferred vendors I’ve been able to obtain and share samples for all of the elements of the project. It’s taken a little time to put it all together, but it’s working out well. We wanted to plan it all and especially order the vanity cabinet in order to work with the contractor’s schedule and to be able to begin on the intended start date. So far, everything has fallen into place nicely with good communication between the client, the contractor and me.
So, although COVID threw quite a curve ball into life in general, working on projects has continued along without many (or any) negative impacts. Clients have been understanding and we’ve all been on the same page in terms of safety. On the few occasions when I’ve visited job sites, tradespeople such as electricians or painters have respected social distancing and have “followed the rules.” Seems like everyone is working together to keep things moving along. As things open up, I’ll combine in-person meetings with remote consulting as needed.