How to Know If Being the Client of a Designer Is Right for You

So, you want to hire an interior designer.

You might be thinking about budget. Maybe you’ve pinned some dream rooms in Pinterest or Houzz, collected some paint chips or fabric samples, dog-eared a catalogue. You might even have a list of names of designers that have been referred to you with glowing reviews from colleagues and friends.

Before you start calling around and setting up informational meetings, I invite you to ask yourself, “Am I a good candidate to work with a designer?”

After 15 years in this business, this is what I’ve observed:

If you are a person that likes to delegate what you don’t have time for and if you are clear that interior design is not within your “Zone of Genius” (see Gay Hendricks, The Big Leap) and you would prefer to hire a genius in this area for your life’s dream, you might benefit from working with a designer.

A designer offers you our talents and our accumulated invested hours in researching options. We shop vendors locally and worldwide, online and in person, all the time. We meet artisans and sales representatives, we attend events. We know what works, what works together. We learn about the latest materials and techniques. We live, breathe, eat, and sleep design.

We have the time to do this because it’s our job.

Delegation and expertise: we save you time and we give you what you might not have access to on your own because you embody and inhabit a different Zone of Genius.

So, then, what makes someone not a good candidate for hiring a designer?

Indecisiveness.

This is the tough love part: If you are hiring a designer because you are indecisive, and you think having someone who can present more and more choices to you will cure your angst, then you may want to reconsider.

There’s always another lamp or sofa, another wallpaper pattern, another color or fabric choice. The internet makes this even more overwhelming. This type of client thinks they need to explore all of the options, and then the right one will present itself, or that the right one is just around the next corner, or click. This is known as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

This is both exhausting and, given the cost of design planning hours, expensive.

It is also inadvisable from a scientific perspective. Research has shown that the more options a person is given, the harder it is to decide, and not only that, but with more types to choose from, they are MUCH less satisfied with their final choice. (Feel free to Google “jam study choices” but try not to get overwhelmed by the number of results.)

What I do, what all designers do, is curate. We get to know you, we get a feel for who you are and what you need, and then we use our skills and experience to narrow down the choices, and then create two cohesive design plans for you to choose from.

And then, because both design plans are created for you, your tastes, your lifestyle and tribe, they are related; we might borrow from one or the other, based on how you respond, and distill a third version that feels right. Satisfying.

Thus, if you are ready to delegate and choose; if you want to live in a beautiful space that is cohesive, functional, brings out the best in you, and draws in and supports the people you live with, play with, and love, then yes, hire a designer; our industry is here to serve you.

If that FOMO scenario feels a little too familiar, for you or someone you know, here are a few of my favorite books that I have recommended over the years to clients and friends, which might also make a great holiday gift. People have reported back to me that these books helped them learn how to be better decision makers and more satisfied with their lives overall: The Big Leap, by Gay Hendricks; Being You, Changing the World, By Dain Heer; and Ask and It Is Given, by Esther Hicks.


A version of this article originally appeared in the Piedmont Post

December 18th, 2017|Design Process, Designer Theory|

2 Comments

  1. Christine December 18, 2017 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    As a former stager, I know this scenario all too well. Thank you for articulateing it so eloquently. For anyone out there thinking about hiring a professional consider Laura who truly will get inside your desires of how you’d like your home to feel when you walk in the door after a long day or on the day of a party you are throwing for 15 or 50.

    • Laura Martin Bovard December 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Christine!

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