A decorated home that consists of, say, 350 elements is actually 3,500 decisions. Or more. Probably more.
It’s my job to diminish (or eliminate) the anxiety of choice and instill confidence that the process will be painless and the outcome will be preeminent. Nobody needs to imagine what goes on behind the curtain of a theater or the months or years of decisions that led up to the final show. It’s the end result. And by the way, I also control outcomes for a living, but I suppose that’s a topic for another time.
Some decisions are obvious: red, not blue, gold, not silver, etc. But others not so much.
I Decide With Whom to Work (For)
As far as taking on new projects is concerned, the decision to move forward is mine. That may sound obvious, but consider the steps it takes to achieve a desired result. Interpersonal synergy (and chemistry) is very important to the success of a project, and that usually means starting from a place of trust. Let me paint some examples that cause me concern:
- “Nice to meet you. I need it completed next month.”
- “Will you negotiate your fees?”
- “I can choose everything, you just put it together.”
- “My father-in-law is a developer and can help us a lot.”
- “My brother-in-law is a general contractor and can help us a lot”
- “What if I don’t like your ideas?”
- “I’ve had to fire my last three designers.”
- “Our home is almost done being built, but we’re being asked to pick everything out ASAP.”
You get it (hopefully). There’s one way I’ve learned to get the project right, but expectations are difficult to manage. I align to ideal client archetypes – much like dating I suppose, that not every person is right for us.
I Decide With Whom to Work (With)
I’ve had make similar decisions when working with service providers, industry partners, trades and artisans. After all, I’m only as good as the talented group I’ve assembled to execute the beautiful projects. And it’s my reputation on the line. I’ve always been a brand loyalist and building trust takes time.
Naturally then, our “A” Team exists through accumulated years of trust and layers of successful problem solving. Everyone benefits from excellence and that’s what clients invest in.
In turn, it’s become increasingly difficult to get aboard our “A” Team.
I Decide Where to Put Things
Every room has a purpose and I’d say nothing is just thrown together. I like the word “effortless” meaning without a forced, deliberate atmosphere. Ironically, it’s quite a deliberate business to be in, but orchestrating it to come off as natural takes planning.
Consider flow and comfort, intimate seating arrangements, room to walk or sit or talk. Taking the scale of a cavernous room to human scale, and styling it appropriately – all decisions. All three-dimensional chess.
I Decide What Color
Think about paint alone. It’s not only the color that shapes a room but its sheen, where it’s applied, how it’s applied, how many coats and how reflective and associative qualities of the palette from the fabrics and other furnishings affect the color.
And of course, light, which can make a blue room look green under the wrong conditions. Accent lighting, ambient lighting, natural lighting and layered lighting all play a part and those choices are meticulously thought through.
I Decide What it’s Made of
Although a chair is still a chair, a curtain, for example, isn’t just a curtain. Did you think it was? The right treatment can make a humdrum window feel like a grand statement, an illusion to the eyes to imagine something much larger and important. Does it need to filter or block sunlight? Are there privacy concerns? Will the sunlight deteriorate the fabric? Will the fabric behave as the temperature and humidity of the environment changes seasonally?
Same goes for wood, for tile, for countertops, for the comfort and durability of furnishings.
I (Sometimes Have to) Make Last-Minute Decisions
I can’t plan enough, it’s part of the job. But as much as I plan, circumstances change, results are not as expected and informed decisions must be made on the spot.
When a joist is in the way of placing a light. When a delay occurs with a material or fixture. When a detail just looks wrong in real life. Quick and creative thinking moves the project forward.
I Decide When it’s Done (Right)
I inspect everything I design or put my name on. Much to the surprise of many in our field, the quality assurance exercises are key to a successful project. So much can go wrong – and does; therefore, short-circuiting a problem before it becomes a disaster requires time, discipline and a bit of clairvoyance.
I install everything at once. Big reveal. Curtain drops. Jaws drop. It’s for impact but it’s also for the sanity of the client and all those involved in pulling the show together. Imagine the circus that would ensue from daily home deliveries of furnishings, open cartons, bubble wrap, styrofoam peanuts and shipping materials.
Imagine the disorder of a single sofa, alone in a room and out of context. I try never to let the paint strokes be seen for the artwork.
It’s all just things until the room is assembled.
After all, I’m being hired for my judgement, decidedly so.