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The Conversation You NEED to Have with Your Client

By 11/23/2015February 8th, 202110 Comments

Trying to get your spouse or client on board with your design project? Set yourself up for success by knowing when you need to have THIS conversation. 

Black and White Bathroom Design

Vanessa Francis

Stuck in the Middle

This is something I see all of the time.

Your husband, your wife, or your client are reacting in a negative way when something isn’t complete. Remember, not all of us are gifted with the ability to visualize the end while in the middle or even the beginning.


My clients spare bathroom had looked like this for three years (above). She wanted it to look nice, but she didn’t want to spend a fortune and had tried to convince her Fiancé to let her decorate it.

Last week, I arrived with a shower curtain, towels, art, and accessories to give her bathroom a facelift.

What if I had only shown up with ONLY one of these items – just a shower curtain or maybe just some art? It would have been so much harder to complete this room.


via BHG

And, that’s why most decorators install an entire room with accessories all at the same time. Or, present all their choices for a new build or any other renovation project ALL AT ONCE instead of dripping little details out gradually.

Wood Stained kitchen with Black

via Traditional Home

I recently had a couple in my office for a new build consultation. The ONLY part of the interior consultation they were not entirely in love with was the wood stain colour of their kitchen cabinets and as a result, didn’t love the coordinating hardwood flooring colour. They were stuck.


via Things That Inspire


Because the flooring stain would have to be mixed custom to coordinate with the cabinet or vise versa. Obviously that could not be done in that moment, so they couldn’t see past this final detail that they weren’t yet sold on.

This new build kitchen was farmhouse style and white was not an option for them (too much maintenance).


Or maybe it should be blue {via freshome}

Explaining WHY they are stuck

So I said, “We need to move on in this conversation because right now, you are reacting to the fact that we don’t have a coordinated floor and cabinet colour.” There was no point in analyzing any of it any further until we had those elements in place.

Tell your client what and WHY they are reacting to what it is that they can or cannot see about the design project. Otherwise, you’ll waste hours discussing the same thing over and over without much progress.

It’s easy for a homeowner to get lost in the unfinished details. Too often, they think of design elements in isolation – rather than a piece of a puzzle where each design selection is carefully selected for the larger picture.

Time is money, and it’s your job as a professional to use the time your client is paying for wisely. You need to know how to have this conversation.

Otherwise, they won’t be very happy about paying you for all the time you spent talking or trying to sell them on an idea that wasn’t finished in the first place.

And if you’re someone reading this who is having a hard time convincing your husband or wife to get on board with a decorating project?

Maybe it’s because you’re only halfway there.

Identify what it is they are reacting to and find your “why.”

Hey, would you like to learn more of my secrets for conducting colour consultations? Check out my colour training. Not ONLY do you need to know how to give your clients the WHY of the colour choices you are helping them make, but you need to be able to explain WHY they are reacting to something that isn’t perfect in that moment!

So much to learn, so little time!

We would love to help you choose colours, select the right combination of hard finishes or create a plan to pull your room together. You can find our fabulous e-design consultation packages here.

Related posts:

Do You Give Your Client Exactly What they Want?

How to Sell Interior Design

2 Magic Words to Move Your Design Project Forward

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  • Marguerite says:

    So true. There is an expression in Yiddish, which translates to “You don’t show a fool half of a job” which sums it up….. . Of course it sounds better in Yiddish!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    Hi Maria,
    I used to have that problem with my husband. Any time I would suggest changing something he would never like my idea. First…he hates change. And second, he wasn’t in my head seeing my vision.
    My solution? I quit asking him beforehand. Now I just do it! No need to bother him with my plans.

  • Denise says:

    Hey, Ka, I’m with you! It’s sooooo much easier.

    • KA says:

      I’ve created quite a few kitchens and baths for women whose husbands have died shortly before. Only a few where the men did it, and those guys pretty much did exactly everything I recommended. The bummer is the first group who wished their husbands could have seen the kitchen and how it improved the day to day life and how nice the house looked, but the guy was dead. Then there are the older guys who let their wives get the kitchen they’ve always wanted. Thank you to those guys who do the right thing.

  • Rebecca says:

    I love a good white kitchen, That said it is so very nice to see some good wood/painted ones on your blog.

  • I’ve found working with clients, they all have a freak out moment at some point in the process. Once everything is done, they are happy, but even the most mellow people have a moment of panic. It just seems part of the process.

  • At initial consultations I often take samples of items, depending on what clients are seeking my assistance with. It’s not that I am suggesting these particular items for their project, but rather to show them how I put everything together (usually it’s items from a project I have already done so they can also see the final result in my photographs). They find it very helpful and easier to understand when I show them fabrics, wallpaper and paint all together. Similar to a colour consultation, I sometimes throw in items that don’t work with the palette so they can see why these ‘out of place’ pieces don’t work with the flow / undertones / style etc. Great article and I love that bathroom by Vanessa Francis!

  • Thanks for including my daughter’s bathroom – the opening image. And thanks Claire for your comment and for letting me know about this.

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