We go to a lot of consultations. People who have realized that something just isn't working in their home and they need help. Sometimes it's a feeling, sometimes it's a look, but either way, they know their home needs a designer touch. And designers CAN help. We're good at our job and have put years into study along with practice but, for the most effective consultations and successful start to a design, we need you to do your homework. We've got the tools and skills, but YOU live in the house and know how it needs to function for you to be able to live in it well. So before we come in and start changing everything on you, figure out some guidelines that will help us keep your design on the right path!
First of all, consider how you use the space. How many people need to have seating, what will you use the space for, does it need to be multi-functional or will it serve as a "showpiece"? How does the function of the space connect to the way you want it to feel. If it's an office, should it be masculine feeling or more airy and appropriate for a female....or maybe unisex. Do you want your bedroom to be spa-like and relaxing or more romantic? Things like that!
Assess your existing furniture and determine if the layout works for you. Can people get around the space like they need to? Does it need to be opened up more? Or does it need division? When doing this step, take the surrounding/adjoining rooms into consideration as well. How do all of the space flow together as far as traffic and walkways are concerned?
Check out the lighting situation. Based on what you determined in step 1 with how you use the space, is your existing lighting working for you? Are the lights glaring or too dim? Would you prefer more ambient lighting or do you like the natural light? Lighting can make a huge impact on how the room looks and feels in it's overall style but it also affects function. If you're planning to do a lot of reading in the space, we need to know! Lighting matters!
What stays and what goes? Is there a piece of furniture that you just can't bear to part with? Would you like to see it incorporated into the space or are you ok with just re-using it in another room? Again, this matters! If it's a small piece of art, it might not be as big of a deal as a sofa or china cabinet, but it's still something we need to know. We don't want to offend you by taking it out of the design completely AND it could be a huge determiner in the style direction the room takes. And don't worry about limiting us--we get it! We have homes and sentimental pieces too so we completely understand!
Determine how you want the space to feel. Warm and inviting? Masculine? Relaxing? This applies to every space. Some of our clients really want their foyer to make a statement. It's the first place a visitor sees and it's important to them that it's just spectacular. Others are concerned with the overall feel--they want their bedroom to be romantic and their family room to be light and airy. These are all things you need to consider for your project as well.
Finally, consider your budget. We have a lot of clients who say they have no idea what their project will cost after they've just described 10's of thousands of dollars worth of work. Be reasonable when you have the budget discussion because time and furniture costs money, but don't just leave it wide open. A range is good because it allows us a little flexibility. We understand not having a final number in place because we don't either. The project really has to develop a little before a final number can be determined. However, if you have a ballpark in place, it allows us to talk things through with you and break it down so that everyone is on the same page.
Thinking of hiring a designer? If so, be sure to do your homework. If you take the time to do it on the front end, you'll have a happy designer and a project that runs much more smoothly.