Just last week, I was driving to a design consultation and enjoying our Rhode Island scenery (hello, autumn!) when a thought crossed my mind. Though I’ve written several posts on making the most of various investments — for your project budget, finding quality furniture, an art collection — I haven’t yet shared one about design consultations.
Today’s the day. What’s going to steer your consultation toward maximum efficiency for your time and dollar?
To answer that, we first need to look at the two types of design consultations…
Two Types of On-Site Design Consultations
1. Design Direction Consultation
This type of design consultation applies to anyone looking for expert advice that they can execute on their own, such as insight into your materials selections (such as tile or countertops), color palette, space planning, your best next steps in managing the project, etc.
You’ll get a designer’s perspective on creating the look and feel of your space, along with concrete direction for making the most of your project’s budget.
2. Project Discovery Consultation
If you’ll be launching a project with an interior designer, your consultation is the jumping-off point for big, exciting things. Together, we assess your needs, discuss priorities and budget, and create a plan for your entire project.
After our consultation, we return to our office to develop the detailed scope of your project, which we present to you at a followup meeting in our studio.
Now that you know which consultation might apply best to your project and desired involvement (hands-on or hands-free), take a look at our 7 tips for pre-consult preparation.
Step 1. Define Your Goals
Whether the goal of your consultation is “design direction” or a project launch, the most beneficial preparatory step is to sit down and figure out exactly what your goals are.
If you’re a Design Direction client, what do you want to accomplish during the consultation itself? Are you frustrated with the furniture layout? Do you need practiced eyes to solidify the best palette and materials for your space? What will make our time together a complete success?
For our Project Discovery clients, we’ll want to know what you hope to accomplish with your project. What are your big goals and must-haves? What do you love or not love about your space? How might we help you live more fully and vibrantly in your space?
Our time together is yours, and having answers ready for these questions will help us make the most of it!
Step 2. Rank Your Priorities
Many of our consultations include helping homeowners compartmentalize their projects, especially if you don’t have the bandwidth or capital to take on all of your desired updates at precisely the same time.
This is why it’s important to prioritize your goals.
If you know you’d like to renovate your entire first floor but you’ll do so in stages, we’ll ask, “What’s the priority?” You are the driving force. It might be a bedroom oasis that brings you peace and relaxation. Maybe your household spends most of its time in the living room, and you’d like to start there.
No one can tell you what your priority is, but once you decide and share it with us, we can point you in the most efficient direction. Or, if you’re working with us on a project, map out your phases appropriately.
Step 3. Know Your Desired Timeline
As I mentioned in the post, What Does an Interior Design Timeline Really Look Like?, reality shows often skew the number of days, weeks, and months required to complete a renovation. I recommend familiarizing yourself with more realistic timelines, but it’s equally important to consider your own desired deadlines.
For example, do you want your project completed before the next holiday, season or big event? Will you be traveling and want it complete when you return? We’ll help outline the most realistic and efficient path to reaching your goals, or at least your top priority.
Step 4. Research & Outline Your Budget
Before your consultation, you should also zero in on your desired budget. To get a ballpark estimate, I recommend listing the products and materials you’ll want for your home, searching quickly online to find their going rates, and adding it all up. Just keep in mind that this sum does not include any necessary labor or professional design services.
This is also the right time to decide whether you’d like us to execute a full service project for you, or if you’d prefer to “man the helm” of your project. In either case, we take all of these variables into account and do our best to stretch your investment to its maximum potential.
If you are a Full Service Design client, we will develop a detailed furnishings budget together during our schematic phase.
Step 5. Assemble All the Necessary Pieces
You wouldn’t start assembling a puzzle if you were missing half the pieces, would you? Exactly. If you’ve booked a Design Direction Consultation with us and want our advice on palette, paint colors, materials, etc. — have those samples ready!
If we’re creating a palette for your living room, but half the furniture is in storage (or on order), it will be very difficult for us to coordinate everything well. Telling us you have a “turquoise” side table in storage isn’t enough… there are a bazillion shades of turquoise!
At minimum, we need photos, fabric swatches and/or color matches. This preparation will help us truly make the most of our time together and work toward accomplishing your biggest priorities.
6. Refine Your Aesthetic
It’s also important to know your aesthetic ahead of time, and my best suggestion is to have images, such as photos you’ve clipped from your favorite home magazines, any Pinterest boards, Houzz idea books, etc.
If we’re going to create a design concept for you or help you select colors and materials, we’ll need to know exactly what your tastes are. Telling us you love “coastal chic” isn’t enough — not everyone views it the same way!
There have also been times when our clients have had leftover time during our consultation, and I pulled out my laptop right then and there to develop a budget, create a timeline, or source items. This added bonus was made possible by the clients knowing their aesthetic and communicating it very clearly.
7. Get Excited… This is Enjoyable!
This last tip is optional but definitely encouraged. It’s to approach our consultation with a sense of adventure. Whether we’re meeting you for a Design Direction Consultation or a Project Discovery, our goal is to send you (or personally take you) in the direction of a more vibrant, fulfilling, bold life…
…and that’s something to be excited about! Plus, a positive attitude always gets more done. At least in my experience. 😉
We can’t wait to lead you toward a home that feels authentic and lights your soul on fire. If you have a consultation booked with us, I hope by now you’re feeling more prepared, excited, and ready for success.
If you haven’t yet booked a consultation with us but are eager to, I invite you to sign up for a Discovery Call here. Design is our passion, and we’d be delighted to get to know you better and see how we can support you.