Look, You Need To Know How to Have this Conversation


Vanessa Francis

Here it is.

Your husband, your wife, or your client will often react in a negative way when something isn’t complete.


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 (photo yet to come).

But had I shown up with ONLY one of any of these items, it would have been much harder to complete this room.


via BHG

That’s why most decorators install an entire room all at once. Or present all their choices for a new build or any other project ALL AT ONCE.

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 therefore the coordinating hardwood flooring colour.


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 that’s the part they were least sold on.

This would be a farmhouse kitchen and white was not an option for them (too much maintenance).


Or maybe it should be blue {via freshome}

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 about what they are or are not seeing. Otherwise, you’ll waste hours discussing the same thing over and over without much progress.

Time is money, and it’s your job as a professional to use the time your client is paying for wisely.

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.

Hey, I have new slides to add to my Specify Colour with Confidence 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




leave aREPLY

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

    • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!