Best Practices for Working with a Design Team

Image source: Atelier Drome

Congratulations on starting your first design project! We know from our clients that working with a design team for the first time can be both exciting and overwhelming. To ensure a smooth and successful project, we’ve compiled a list of best practices for new design clients. By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to a great experience with your design team and an outcome that you’re excited about.

Setting Intentions, Parameters, and Staying True to Your Vision

When working with a design team, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to set clear intentions and parameters for your project right from the start. This includes sharing any elements you may want to add in the future and being upfront about your budget. We want to consider everything that the current scope may affect to avoid making decisions that could create costly changes and limitations later and ensure a thoughtful, well-integrated project. This may include new furniture and accessories, future resale, additions, basement renovation, landscaping, and more.

Remember to tell your designer about anything in your life that requires special design consideration. Do you drive a large truck (tell us how big!), keep your makeup in a refrigerated cabinet, require a safe, or want to plan for a crib to be in your primary bedroom? To ensure that your home best suits your needs, we need to know what to prioritize for your home (especially when there are size constraints).

Being transparent about your budget allows the design team to design appropriately for you and understand the constraints they will work within. Helpful discussions are: Is your budget flexible or a firm number? Does your budget include design fees? Do you want assistance with furniture and accessories?

Your Space Should Reflect YOU

It’s also important to remember that your space should reflect you and your unique preferences. Don’t be afraid to take chances on elements tailored specifically for you. At the end of the day,  YOU are the one living in your home. Upon completion, our clients’ favorite parts of the project are always what they took a chance on – unique elements tailored specifically for them. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing – your space should reflect you!

Keeping your original concept and goals in mind as the project progresses is essential. A clear vision keeps the project on track and creates a framework for decision-making. An overall theme (i.e., “playful mid-century modern,” “organic forms and materials,” “open and airy feel”) allows you to take a broad idea that you want for your space and fill in pieces in an educated way instead of making decisions on a whim. Your design team can also help you develop this concept and translate your likes and dislikes into options. Remember that your goals, priorities, and vision for the project may evolve throughout the process but keeping the original concept in mind will help connect the final product to your initial goals.

Meeting Preparation and Decision-Making

Meetings are essential to any project but can be more efficient and productive with proper preparation. Whether in-person, virtual or broken up into multiple sessions, it’s important to let us know in advance so we can be prepared. It’s better to postpone a meeting if you cannot participate fully rather than try to multitask or deal with technical issues.

Pro Tip! Always take virtual meetings from a computer, not a phone. This enables you to view plans and presentations, giving you the ability to provide informed feedback and fully participate in each design stage. We understand that life can be unpredictable, but it’s important to prioritize attendance and engagement in virtual meetings to communicate with your team effectively.

We love chatting with you! Interacting with our clients on a personal level is one of our favorite parts of the job. However, please remember that our time together is valuable and should be used effectively to address all key points and critical information. We look forward to chatting with you even more over celebratory drinks once the project is complete!

To avoid confusion and ensure that all critical decisions are made, it’s essential to have all decision-makers present at meetings. If someone is unable to attend, it’s better to reschedule. If you and your partner have different preferences, it’s okay to take time after the meeting to discuss and decide together or come back to us with thoughtful questions.

Lastly, it’s important to allow yourself time to think through the options before deciding. Rushed decisions at the beginning of the process can lead to costly changes and revisions later, adding unnecessary costs and stress to the project.

Photo source: Atelier Drome

Remember Why You Hired Professionals

It’s important to remember why you hired professionals. Your project is a team effort ­– and designers want your input and collaboration! However, it is important to trust the design team’s expertise, experience, and education. Trusting their process and allowing them to design with and for you will lead to the best outcome for the project. Every project is unique, but the design team’s goal is always to deliver the best product.