In our previous blog post, we established the perspective that an interior designer should be an integral part of your relocation strategy, whether you are moving cross-town or cross-country. While finding an interior designer to support you is a hurdle, it’s not at all insurmountable. With organizations like the Interior Design Society and the home design explosion on social media, the challenge may be whittling down your choice of designer.
Once you’ve found and signed on with your ideal designer, building a solid relationship is of paramount importance. The benefit of designing your dream home with less time and stress cannot be underestimated, especially if significant life transitions accompany your move. If done well, establishing a positive working relationship with your interior designer can help you reduce the overwhelm of the moving process. Working with a designer will leave you with the time to focus on other equally (or more) important aspects of your move, including finding the best schools, religious communities, and social connections to acclimate to your new area.
In this article, we share some best practices for building this meaningful partnership. We’ve curated this point of view from our experiences working with relocating clients, leveraging the firsthand wins and mistakes we made along the way. We hope that this helps you as you begin the vetting process for your Interior Designer of choice.
We take the point of view that while designing can and should be fun, it should be first and foremost thought of in its most essential form: a business partnership. As with any other business engagement, we view our client-designer relationship as a partnership in which each partner has shared ownership and accountability for the end result. Each stakeholder in the design process must have consideration - your designer has to care deeply about your final home design, even though they will not live with the design as you will. And as a client, you have to care deeply about your designer’s success in order to get the home of your dreams. Without this consideration, the partnership is unlikely to produce the best outcomes for both parties. Here are the three tips we have for fostering a relationship that achieves the best outcomes.
We’ve learned (perhaps the hard way) the value of investing upfront time with our prospective clients before we even sign a contract to engage in a design. That’s why three of the six phases in our design process occur before formal contract signing. We spend much more time engaging to ensure we are the right fit for a project. This not only helps us take on the right clients and projects but also helps us nail the homes we do end up designing. It’s an intensive, involved process that prevents us from taking on projects where we cannot do our best work. Do we lose out on the client who needs a “quick turnaround” on their project? Absolutely, but that’s by design (no pun intended).
As a client, you should seek to work with an interior designer with whom you see yourself naturally building a solid foundation. To do this, first, determine what’s most important to you in the partnership with your designer. Requirements might include;
As you’re interviewing and vetting designers, gauge your comfort level with the designer, how you feel about their responses to your questions, and if they stack up against the criteria of what’s most important to you in a design relationship. Be more scientific than artistic about this vetting. While chemistry and likeability are important, don’t conflate those feelings with selecting the best designer for your home. Building a solid foundation takes time, but the end result is so worth it.
There is so much I can say about this tip and its importance, so I will try to get down to the essentials here.
As a designer, I try my best to limit the number of decisions my clients need to make. Since I work mostly with clients who are experiencing life transitions, whether that be relocation, family growth, retirement, or empty nesting, reducing decision fatigue is a big part of my design philosophy. You have other things to worry about, that’s why you hired a designer to help. However, some clients really want creative (and process) control. They have the desire to approve everything, down to the blankets, bookshelf accessories, and all. If this is you, that is totally fine. Going back to my first tip, you should find a designer that supports this need through their design process. I’ve most recently determined that I cannot support this because it goes counter to my value and cannot be absorbed into my process of getting my clients the best possible home design outcomes.
Regardless of your preferences, it is important to be responsive and communicative at the appropriate inflection points in the design process. Understand the tradeoffs and implications of your preferred partnership style and engage accordingly. If you want more creative control, the tradeoff is that you will need to communicate more frequently with your designer. If you find that you’re unable to respond in a timely manner, it can slow down various phases of the design process and create a real risk that your home is not ready for move-in by the time you are. To combat this, you’ll need to be more trusting in the design process. The most important goal here is to be respectful of your designer’s time as they are with yours.
As a designer, I have made mistakes going outside of my normal process for clients. From where I chose to relinquish creative control to the method of communication to being lenient about significant invoice delays - you name it, I’ve broken my own rules. And while I have done this thinking that it’s part of my “bespoke and custom process,” in reality, it just makes the design process a bit messier and throws me off balance, stunting my ability to do my best design work.
Whether it is a 1-person or 50-person shop, the designer you choose should have a standard process that they’ll follow to get you from design mood board reviews to fabric and colors discussions, to design presentation day, and finally to implementation and reveal day. They should also tell you their normal operating cadence and preferred method of communication. The contract will give you the guardrails around invoice submission, feedback and revisions, and a timeline. No stone should be left unturned. When they tell you this, please respect the process and refrain from asking or assuming an exception is present for you. It’s important to adhere to the process that gets you to the best outcome possible for your home. Within the first three phases of my design process, I have started to include this as an upfront discussion point with my prospective clients to ensure we’re all on the same page.
What if you don’t like the designer’s process? Well, hopefully, if you’ve spent the significant upfront time vetting the designer, you’re bought into the way they do things just as much as how the final design will look. However, in the event that something feels clunky, unclear, or just not right, have a discussion with your designer. They’ll either share perspectives about why they do things a certain way that will help you understand how to best engage. Or, it’ll be some of the best feedback they’ve received that they’ll use to be better for the next project. Progress toward perfection is my mantra as a designer and business owner, so I appreciate it when my clients share things that help me live up to that creed.
Find a designer with who you can form a positive relationship on the points above, and you’ll have another meaningful partner and advocate in your corner as you navigate your move.
At Sims + Co Design, we help people going through major life changes start fresh with a holistic interior design package that covers everything from 3D design development and floor plans to furniture selection and project management.
Ready to live in a beautifully functional home that creates a sense of calm in your busy life? Covering all of North Carolina and beyond, our interior designers are ready to help you optimize your space with the perfect design to meet your unique needs.
“I moved into a new house and had no idea how to decorate my bedroom. Jasmine was there to help me with every step of the process. She made sure to understand my preferences with color schemes and aesthetics, and she provided me with multiple options to choose from. Whenever I had questions, she was always communicative and I never felt uncomfortable reaching out to her.
Now I have an amazing space that I love. Thank you, Jasmine!”
“Jasmine helped take out so much confusion and overwhelm in planning out a move into my new townhome. She is thorough, efficient and a pleasure to work with! It was my first time working with an interior designer, and I'm grateful I found Jasmine. Trust her process and you will not be disappointed!”
“Working with Jasmine was amazing. Everything from design to implementation was spot on. My style as we discussed was brought to life.”
“I literally sleep better having beautiful design surrounding me. Thank you Jasmine for your amazing vision and deliberate execution!”
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