Designers can spend hours swapping stories about the projects they were called in to rescue after the clients attempted to it themselves. Yet the perception persists that anyone with a “flair” for color and some taste can design their home. The media and product providers make it seem so easy and effortless. There are lots of apps that appear to do the things designers usually do: create color palettes, configure floor plans, produce 3D renderings, and even identify possible products. Ah, but what about talent, know-how, experience? There’s not an app for that. All the technology and DIY guides are not going to produce the expected result if that magic ingredient is missing.
I can spend hours looking at pictures of paintings, go the local art supply store and stock up on brushes, paints, canvas, etc., and set about creating my own masterpiece. But the result will not be anything I would be proud to share with my friends. There is a lot more to painting than meets the eye, and the same is true of interior design.
Clients believe that because they “know what” they also “know how” – until they find out the hard way they were mistaken. Surveys show that consumers do value professional expertise and are willing to pay to get the result they want. You have to counter the DIY marketing messages by demonstrating to the client that you can exceed their expectations and explaining to them in detail what it will take to achieve it. Open their eyes to the realities of undertaking a major design project, help them to see it is not as easy as they might think, and at the same time reassure them that you can manage the process to minimize the worries and inconvenience. Share a story or two about a project you’ve rescued. Stories are powerful vehicles for expressing lessons learned.
Yes, the interior design business is changing, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the art of creating beautiful, functional spaces. Clients sometimes tend to forget that, so it’s up to you to (gently) remind them, and dazzle them a bit, as well.