If you want to treat your design project like a pro, start with interviewing yourself first. Why? Because that is how designers do it: they begin every design project with a client interview. During this initial visit, both client and designer have an opportunity to determine if they are a good match for each other. This is also the time to determine if the project is viable both in terms of budget, timeline, and expectations. Follow their pattern as you embark on the remodeling of your new house and I guarantee you that, by doing so, you will have CLARITY OF MIND, which is one of my 4 Design Pillars.
Let´s start the process where you are both designer and client. The questions every designer should ask a potential client are divided in Lifestyle, Budget and Timeline, and Design.
A designer needs to know how you and your family operates in order to come up with a proposal that works for you. In order to do that, it pays to take time to talk about your routines, personalities, hobbies, personal preferences, family dynamics, including issues that trigger problems around the house. If the room you will be remodeling is a gathering place for the whole family, then you definitely want to consider what makes your kids fight with each other and integrate practical solutions in your design. To illustrate my point: if they consistently fight about how one takes more couch space than the other, consider using comfy chairs instead of a large sofa. If the problem revolves around someone always blocking the tv, focus on finding the right location for it. Get my point? It may feel weird to answer some of these questions yourself, but trust me here. It will bring the Clarity of Mind required for a design that actually works. Do remember that you must adapt your design to your lifestyle and not the other way around.
You will find more about Lifestyle Questions in this blog post and make sure you download my Free Guide (click here). The worksheet included there will help you come up with 2 very important lists: the “Absolutely must have it” list and the “I would be the happiest person if I have it” list. You will also be prompted to prioritize them and to write down your whys (read all about here).
The Lifestyle questions I always use are:
- CURRENT PURPOSE OF THE ROOM, WHO USES IT AND HOW?
- DESCRIBE IN DETAIL HOW YOU INTERACT WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY IN THIS ROOM. WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN´T WORK.
- WHAT MAKES YOUR TASKS MORE MANAGEABLE AND EASIER TO HANDLE?
- TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, AGES, PERSONALITIES, HOBBIES, PETS, ROUTINES AS THEY RELATE TO THE ROOM.
- ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS OR NEEDS WE SHOULD BE AWARE OF?
BUDGET AND TIMELINE QUESTIONS
The following questions are always tricky. People don´t usually like to disclose their budget fearing that the contractor will spend every single penny or that their full amount will be way above the real cost. Some may be embarrassed that their budget will be irrealistic. The good thing is that you are on both sides of the table and you can be honest with yourself. I mean, I hope you are being honest with yourself.
The questions to answer are:
- WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL BUDGET? (notice the word ideal, not how much you think the project will cost)
- DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS ALL AT ONCE OR IN PHASES?
- IF IN PHASES, WHAT IS YOUR TIMELINE?
- HOW SOON CAN YOU START?
- WHEN DO YOU WANT THE RENOVATION TO BE FINISHED BY?
- DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS FOR YOURSELF WHILE THE RENOVATION IS IN PROGRESS?
DESIGN AND DECOR QUESTIONS
The Design questions will most likely take longer to complete. Answer truthfully and if you are not sure about your responses, take a break and come back to it. Pay special attention to questions 1 and 2 and try to put into words what you see in your mind, even if you don´t have the “right” descriptive words. Who cares? This is your interview, your work document, yours to use and yours to take advantage of.
- WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THIS ROOM? HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AND OTHERS USING IT?
- HOW DO YOU WANT THIS ROOM TO FEEL THE MINUTE YOU WALK IN? If you would like to read more about the feeling of a room, watch this IGTV.
- WHAT DO YOU LOVE/HATE ABOUT THIS ROOM?
- WHAT MUST STAY? WHAT MUST GO?
- WHAT INSPIRES YOU? ANY PARTICULAR ITEM (FEATURE, FURNITURE, HEIRLOOM, ETC.) YOU WANT TO SHOWCASE?
- COLORS YOU LOVE/HATE?
- IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR STYLE YOU DEFINITELY DISLIKE?
- DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE LOOK OR STYLE YOU´D LIKE TO RECREATE?
- PLEASE CHECK ALL ASPECTS YOU WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE OR NEED TO DO (After this last question, clients can check different boxes indicating needs around the house).