So, you took a look at your space and made the big decision: you’re ready to work with a designer. Or maybe you found the professional of your dreams and have been in touch already. While the design process is exciting and transformative, it can also be lengthy and complex, and it’s important that you, the client, bring your best self to the table.
We spoke with designers from across the nation to gather their advice on how to be the best client possible—as well as habits to avoid.
As the saying goes, trust the process. “A dream client would first and foremost be trusting and respectful of the designer they have hired,” Hallie Henley Sims, Houston-based designer, notes. “The most successful projects I’ve worked on have been the projects where the client showed me complete trust and respected me as a professional expert in my chosen field.”
The most successful projects I’ve worked on have been the projects where the client showed me complete trust and respected me as a professional expert in my chosen field.
The results can be detrimental otherwise. Adds Sims, “I’ve seen several projects where the client gets in their own way by not trusting the team, and it can be heartbreaking and frustrating to witness.”
Annie Tipton, a designer in Knoxville, echoes this sentiment. “The best clients I’ve had are the ones who relate to my design style and process which leads to a solid foundation of trust,” she says. “Clients who trust me feel comfortable communicating not only needs, wants, and budget, but also their lifestyle, personality, and story. When I can get all those details from a client, I can create a truly customized space that fits well and tells their story.”
In a similar vein, being receptive to a designer’s suggestions—and maintaining a sense of enthusiasm regarding the project—will also make a major impact. “The best clients are the ‘yes’ clients,” Maggie Griffin, a Georgia-based interior designer, says. “I love a client who is open minded, trusts our aesthetic and vision, and sees the value in our experience. Many times, indecisive clients aren’t quite sure what they want, nor are they willing to let us make the decisions.”
Adds Baltimore-based Saudah Saleem, “Be excited about the prospect of creating a new space. Share in your designer’s excitement when they find new pieces for you or create a floor plan you hadn't expected. Designing a space is a journey. Allow your designer to guide you through the process.”
Designing a space is a journey. Allow your designer to guide you through the process.
And, just as with all successful projects, a bit of preliminary research will take you a long way. “To have a great client who has done their research on our firm’s reputation, signature design style, and process for completion makes our job both easy and fun,” Griffin notes.
Do note that the design process takes time. “Don’t expect the turnaround time to be what you often see on televised design shows,” Saleem says. And patience is especially key given the current environment.
“In any design project, it’s key for a client to understand realistic timelines and budgets,” Tipton says. “It’s important for a client to be realistic, patient, and have a little grace.”