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5 Things An Interior Professional Wants Clients To Know

by Carlene Duffy
Posted: March 30, 2016

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Wondering what goes on inside the head of an interior designer
The Block and Reno Rumble personality, Carlene Duffy, explains 5 ways an interior professional thinks differently to a client.


When someone engages an interior professional for their makeover, new build or renovation, they are choosing that particular designer because they can relate to their design aesthetic. But unless a client trusts their design consultant implicitly, there will absolutely be times where they don’t see eye to eye. 

There will be times where a client will be surprised by what their consultant places importance on and how they believe cash should be spent. It’s a back and forth, give and take process. Here are a few things an interior professional wants clients to know, to appreciate where their differences lie. This will help steer clients towards a favourable outcome whilst still being in control of their design choices and everybody wins.

1. Interior professionals want to cater to their client (not for the person who may buy it in 10 years)

5 things an interior professional wants clients to know

While it’s certainly not bad advice to consider re-sale when designing or making over your home, many home owners make the mistake of letting this consideration dictate all their design choices.

Catering to a broad market in your own home design can quickly leave a home devoid of character and personality. It can also prompt home owners to make “safe” choices, such as an all-white kitchen, generic lighting choices and white walls galore (which are all perfectly acceptable if done for the right reasons).

Instead, a consultant will urge their client to make educated choices that generate excitement and make their client’s heart sing. The fact is, no one knows who will want to buy your home in 10-15 years’ time so your space should be right for you now and in the near future.

In saying that, of course, avoid making controversial structural decisions that would be costly to change if re-sale is in your 5-year plan.

2. Your interior expert may push for more colour

Pantone colour palette

Because many people are scared of colour in their homes and most especially, colour on their walls, home owners tend to want to use it in small bursts. 

A home owner might be thinking that they can incorporate colour by painting a feature wall a deep navy or charcoal, which may be completely acceptable depending on the wall. But in many cases, feature walls can appear outdated and can also present as fear (fear of too much). So if the space warrants it, a designer may suggest all four walls be painted or none at all - this can make many clients wary. 

Similarly, where many would think to introduce colour into their home through soft furnishings such as their cushions and throws, a designer might push for a whole sofa in emerald green, powder blue or sage. Only the boldest of clients would entertain these suggestions without some encouragement. 

But you know what they say - there’s nothing more attractive than confidence.

3. Grey floor tiles and white tiled walls in the bathroom may make your interior professional yawn

Cool and beautiful bathroom, green tiles, mosaic, unique

Yes, the grey tiled floor and white tiled walls in bathrooms have been tried and tested but also done to death. The combination became very popular about 10 years ago. To a designer, it shows a lack of imagination and effort and can really make for a very pedestrian bathroom.  

So an interior professional may encourage creating interest and contrast by leaving a wall or two untiled and instead painting the plasterboard a colour of choice or cladding it with timber vertical paneling. 

They may also suggest creating interest and texture through a large splashing of mosaics or creating an interesting pattern with some subway tiles in all four walls. Home owners can become easily scared in bathrooms because the cost of tiles and tilers is not cheap. But multiple materials can work very successfully even in small rooms such as bathrooms. Have faith.

4.  An interior expert may want bigger items

Big small magnifying glass - interior expert

Similarly to how many home owners can be frightened of colour on their walls, upscaling items in the home can also be very daunting for many. But as our backyards become smaller, our houses become larger and it is important that the items in your home are proportionally appropriate.

Rugs in homes everywhere are too small. Other items that tend to be scaled down by home owners are headboards, art, mirrors, and pendants. It’s important that items in the home aren’t dwarfed by the height of the ceilings and the size of the spaces in question. So in many cases, an interior professional will advise to think bigger than most would normally dare

Bigger also costs more no matter what it is, and clients can be deterred by the price of larger versions. But this isn’t an area to scrimp on because a too-small sofa, rug or piece of art can compromise the success of your space.

5. Clients may say old fashioned, designers will say refined, sophisticated and timeless

Tufted upholstery - green sofa

Unless a home owner is an interior enthusiast, there may be a few fixtures and furnishings in the home that they might consider old fashioned when an interior consultant would call it refined and timeless. 

For instance, an interior consultant will likely specify door handles that are slim-line with rounded profiles, probably in a polished silver. However not so long ago for a modern scheme, it was brushed chrome with square edges that were the accessory of choice when it came to tapware, door hardware, sinks and cabinet handles. 

Likewise, tufted upholstery has long been associated with classical or country interior schemes. It may be difficult for a client to accept it when their consultant advises that the design is making a mark on modern interiors, contributing style and sophistication. 

Some final thoughts

An interior design expert will push limits because they want their client to step outside their comfort zone. Deep down, the client will want to be pushed because otherwise they probably wouldn’t have engaged a professional in the first place. 

In saying that, a client should always voice their concerns so that their consultant has the opportunity to rationalise their theory before the final call is made. If it’s not interesting and challenging, it’s probably not worth doing.

Considering a career in the Interior Design industry? Investigate the many career options available here.


Carlene Duffy

Carlene is best known as one half of Michael and Carlene Duffy; the down to earth Gold Coast couple who shared their highs and lows with Australia on 9’s series The Block ‘Glasshouse’. The dynamic duo also featured in Renovation Rumble, and have together established their business ‘Cedar & Suede’.

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