Learning the hard way


What am I to do when a client presents an idea that I know, from past experience, is destined to fail?

In spite of a firm warning, their urge to move forward is so strong that I have to simply step aside and let them learn from their mistake. Experience can be an expensive teacher, but the lessons are never forgotten.

Since designers see it all, there is a wealth of information that lives within them, helping them to avoid obvious mistakes.

If you are more prone to heeding advice rather than “learning the hard way”, this list is for you.

1: Consider scale when purchasing furniture. Tape out the dimensions and fill the space with cardboard boxes.

2: If you are redecorating, don’t paint first! Magazines promise a quick, cheap update with a gallon of paint. It is far more difficult to develop a room of furnishings around an arbitrary color than it is to find the perfect color for a developed room.

3: Don’t test paint color on the wall…regardless of how eager your painter is to do it. Test on poster board as it is far easier to consider the color if there is no color next to the new hue.

4: Consider the style of the structure as well as your personal style. A contemporary house will feel uncomfortable if it is forced to wear French Country décor.

5: Don’t rely on your best friend or neighbor for decorating advice. I have seen many situations where a friend in tow causes self-doubt because, unless they have a design background, the advice stems from limited knowledge and their personal preference.

6: Don’t hang window treatments from a package that are several inches off the floor. Unless you are expecting a flood, a bare window is better than ill-fitting ready-mades.

7: If you are going to sit on it or sleep on it, purchase the best quality you can afford. Cheap is just that: cheap. And it won’t improve once it is in your home.

8: Don’t over-decorate with collectables. If you can’t imagine life without your collection of sea glass, cluster it in one area for visual impact, rather than visual clutter.

9: If you do make a mistake, don’t spend more money trying make it right. It won’t change the mistake, and you will be looking at a series of mistakes rather than cutting the loss after the first error.

Don’t decorate a room without considering the rest of the home’s décor. Rooms that are treated as an island lead to a home that is reminiscent of a trip to Epcot with a new theme around every corner.

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