Design Projects…The Initial Consultation

So this is DAY 2 of our 6 Day (hopefully humorous) Blog Post on “Design Projects as Surgery”

Our 5 stages are: Consultation – Scheduling – Anethesia – Recovery/Rehab – Living Anew!

Today…the Initial Consultation

When we meet with potential clients for that Initial Consultation, we often tell them…that just like going to the Doctor…proverbially speaking…”you need to put on the gown and step on the scale” 🙂

There are several standard ‘Initial Consultation” models…

  1. In the Office
  2. At the job site
  3. At a Design Center
  4. At an Inspiration Place

With us…we like to have the Initial Consultation in our Side Door Studio.

If the project is remote, we will skype.

One of our BEST tools!


Because it drives home the foundation that we are a BUSINESS.  Every thing we do costs something.  Many of our clients are or become friends. Many of our clients are third or fourth generation family friends. This makes it easier to navigate those murky waters of friendship and business.

I often reason that you wouldn’t ask your Doctor to come to your bathroom and talk to you…why would you ask your Interior Designer to come to (insert anyplace here) to do the same?

YES, of course we will be in the space – and know every dust bunny, every inch.…however, the INITIAL CONSULTATION should set the bar for professionalism.

It is hard to raise it if it’s set low from the outset.

There are also many thoughts about whether or not to charge for that first consultation.

For us…it actually depends on the client.

Some clients are highly specific right out of the box, so we charge because we hit the ground running.

Some clients are VERY preliminary – maybe it’s land in a foreign country and they are just starting the process or it’s a long time repeat client and they are considering the purchase of a second or third home.

Here’s what is IMPORTANT: Honesty.

We all know THIS story...

Be honest about everything. Do you and your “s.o.” agree or disagree on style. Who pays the bills. Who makes the decisions. Pets? Inlaws? Publication goals? be BRUTAL. The consul is the time to let it all hang out from an information stage – because without the “guts” we can’t  design a fantastic solution for your Design Project.

We always address budget at that first meeting. The truth is, if the budget isn’t there…then there is no job for us. And the client will just be frustrated if they think they can get something for nothing.

What we also address: We are not overnight people. NOTHING is done in a hurry. Can’t do it, won’t do it, don’t ask for it…nope…

The Initial Consultation is the time to set parameters. It is the time to figure out if the fit is there.

“Put on that Gown…& Step on that SCALE!”

As any good Designer (or Doctor) knows…we are ONLY as good as the INFORMATION we get.

IF you are honest, we can make real and lasting contributions

IF you are dishonest (I don’t know HOW I gained that weight….) we can’t make real and lasting changes or help you in the direction you need to go

We MUST be able to establish an honest and open communication right off the bat. There have been many clients I have turned down recently because I saw they were more interested in propaganda (telling a story about their life) than in being honest about what wasn’t working and what they were struggling with & ultimately HOW they wanted to live

You don’t have to “sell” a Designer. If it isn’t a good fit, believe me, we don’t want the job either!! :)!

Tomorrow…scheduling….the “Why can’t I have it TODAY???!!! 🙂

Even a puppy takes 3 months…

xoxo Ann

4 thoughts on “Design Projects…The Initial Consultation

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