You work harder for people you like and care about, right? As designers, it’s our job to act with professional diligence for all our clients. But let’s be honest. That nightmare client is not going to inspire anyone to go the extra mile in the same way the dream client is. Trust me, you want your designer to smile when they see an email from you, not sigh. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!
Here’s how to make sure your designer loves you:
BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR BUDGET
Designers are not out to grab your money! We can help you save heaps of cash, slashing prices without compromising style or quality. But we do need to know what you want to spend. Telling us you want to spend less than you truthfully plan to won’t make us work extra hard to save money, it will mean we don’t show you ideas that you might love because we (wrongly) think they’re too expensive for you. Likewise, slightly inflating your budget will only lead to stress and heartache as you inevitably panic to recoup costs partway through. If you’re not sure about your budget, that’s okay. We will talk through what prices might look like for the project you have in mind and tell you where you can save and where you should splurge!
DON’T CONSTANTLY ASK FOR DISCOUNTS
My clients aren’t just paying for my time. They’re paying for my qualifications, my years of experience and my industry connections. And as much as I always want us to have open conversations about prices (my philosophy is great design is for everyone, not just the elite few), clients trying to haggle on my fees does not sit well. It’s telling me you don’t think my time is worth what I tell you it’s worth. I’ve set my prices based on my skill level and experience. Trust me, I’ll save you money throughout your project!
I do understand. Not everyone has the means to hire an interior designer. That’s why I created my course, The BB Design Blueprint [Check it out here], so you can get the benefit of my experience at a fraction of the price.
You’re probably not going to get an island, a range cooker and an American style refrigerator in the kitchen of your one-bedroom apartment.
A great designer can do incredible things, but you should always keep these three things in mind:
- The results you want.
- The amount you want to spend.
- The time you want it to take.
Because you probably can’t have all three! What compromises can you live with?
LISTEN TO ADVICE
I don’t give advice lightly! If I tell you something is a bad idea, that’s because I’ve already made that mistake, or I know someone who has. You don’t have to love all my ideas of course, but I’m sure you didn’t hire a professional just to ignore what she has to say and do it all your way, right? Ultimately, the best designs are a result of input from everyone involved, based on the foundation of a designer’s experience.
It’s okay to not know exactly what you want; after all, that’s why you contacted me in the first place. But, if you do have an idea of what you want, whether that’s just an idea or a fully formed picture, make sure to tell me! It makes my job a lot easier when I know what you like (or don’t like).
Visualising things can be hard for a lot of people, which is why I always make a design board to communicate the aesthetic first. I find Pinterest boards and dropboxing images to be a great way for clients to communicate ideas. If you want to start collecting inspiration, here’s a non-exhaustive list of things you could include:
- Pictures of rooms similar in size and style to yours
- Pictures of rooms not at all like yours, but what you want your space to become
- Works of art
- Favorite items of clothing or jewellery
- Colors and textures
- Individual items of furniture
- Desk, dressing table or dining place set-ups
- Anything that conveys the feeling you want in your home
KNOW WHEN TO BE HANDS-OFF
Micromanaging and sending hundreds of emails is a waste of a designer’s time and your time; if a designer is busy all day replying to your messages, then she/he is not spending time working on your project. An overload of communication and checking up is likely going to lead to a frustrated designer who won’t bother making suggestions or acting under his/her own initiative. You’ve hired someone to handle all the many tasks associated with a successful design-trust them to do it.
Going behind the back of your designer to try and save money or steal ideas is the biggest trust-breaker ever. I have worked at firms where the designer has fired the client on the spot for a breach of contract-it’s not pretty.
Querying prices is fine. Asking to see more options is fine. Speaking to multiple agencies before committing to see whom you vibe with, that’s all great! Taking the room plan someone has spent hours working on and giving it to a cheaper and less experienced designer to copy, that’s only one step above theft. Phoning up suppliers to check if you can cut a cheaper deal and playing suppliers off against each other is also a big no-no.
RESPECT WORKING HOURS
Lots of designers are self-employed, meaning the temptation to stay an extra hour at the office or to pick up a call on a Saturday is very much there! So, every once in a while, you might expect to have an email pop through outside of office hours, and if you send emails outside of office hours, we don’t mind. But on the whole, it’s important to remember you can only expect a response between whatever office hours your designer lays down. Not sure what hours they keep? Ask them! There is nothing nicer than a client asking ‘Are there any days of the week or times that you prefer to deal with emails and calls?’
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST… TELL YOUR FRIENDS!
Small interior design businesses don’t usually have great big marketing budgets. The vast majority of our work comes through word-of-mouth. So if you’ve worked with a designer and you love the results, tell everyone! Tell you friends in person, ask your designer where you can leave a review, engage on their social media posts, tag them in things. Being vocal about your positive experience is the single most meaningful and highly appreciated thing you can do.