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Detective first, Designer second

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

My favorite spaces to design for clients are the rooms that currently bring them the most stress or is broken in some way. If after the project is done their spaces are helping them to function in ways, they had never considered and improves home life, that is a success for me. When I am first being walked through the house with the client, I listen to what they say that they don’t realize they're saying. These seemingly filler comments wrapped in frustration or embarrassment gives me major clues on how they could use design help.

One client will say, “My kids’ stuff is always on the floor right here and drives me crazy.”

I think, ok this family needs a drop zone near the door.

Another client has said, “My husband makes popcorn every night with all the sauces, seasonings, and this hideous vintage popper. I put it away every day and he pulls it back out every night and doesn’t put it up.”I think, ok we need to design a popcorn station that houses all the seasonings equipment and can be closed off by doors.

Another client was so overwhelmed by needing to get organized. As we walked by the dining room she said, “Oh my gosh don't look at the dining room table. I have a huge pile of mail I need to go through I can't even look at it.”I think, ok this busy mom needs a mail drop area that she can quickly organize the mail into categories of magazines/catalogs, bills and miscellaneous so that when she does have time to go through it it's less overwhelming.

One way I get my clients to dream with me about their home is to ask them, if you could have anything in your space what would it be? What are the things that you’ve always dreamed about but aren’t sharing because it seems unobtainable? Most of the time those dreams and desires can be incorporated into the space by looking at things or spaces in different ways. Helping clients renovate their home is 100% being a design detective and much less about the aesthetics.

Some of my other favorite spaces to design in a home are kooky spaces or spaces deemed unusable. An unused closet space above an angled floor can be turned into a kid’s nook.

A narrow backyard space that seems hopeless beyond design help can be turned into an art wall or something else.

We as people assume that our house should be easy to maintain remaining the way it was when we moved into it. We subconsciously think, “What is wrong with us that we can’t keep the house straight the way everyone else seems to.” Every family has different needs, and our space should adapt to that instead of us adapting to how the space is set up currently. We are the bosses of our spaces and not the other way around. We can design our space to work with us and not against us.

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