Ok so a bit of a random title for a newsletter that’s predominantly about interior design, but with world mental health day earlier this week, a recent meeting with a client and the current climate we’re living in, I wanted to shout out to all of the incredible men out there and reiterate that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Recently a client requested a private meeting with me, without his spouse present – a slightly unusual request as I usually meet them together. I assumed he just wanted me to quickly bring him up to speed on how the project was progressing without it becoming a long winded conversational meeting. I was wrong.
(The cynical amongst you may have thought, ‘oh yeah, a man wants to meet his female designer in secret without his wife present…’ – here’s the thing, that’s the reason most men wouldn’t reach out. Fear of that judgement. 80% of our clients are men.)
The meeting began as usual with me giving a quick overview on what we were currently working on, but when I started to ask him questions on things I wanted his thoughts on, everything changed.
Long story short and not to go into too much detail, but it was an emotional meeting. Our client is facing a tough time in his industry in the coming months and so has been putting in additional hours to steady the ship. He’s working harder, away from home more, feels guilty for missing family time and has the weight of his world is on his shoulders because he’s usually the one with all the answers – the ‘do-er’ that makes things happen. But he feels like his ship is sinking.
Our role in this project (or any project) is not just to advise on the design and act as a point of contact between the contractors and clients. It’s to deflect additional stress from our clients. Preempt what is coming and minimise disruption, or forewarn them of potential difficulties such as delays or price increases so they can be prepared. To find a happy medium on design decisions that our married/cohabiting clients can be happy with, by understanding what exactly it is that they both want and need, so there doesn’t need to be any in fighting about it (and sometimes put our foot down to make the final decision if they just can’t get to that point themselves).
In light of all this, here are my top ten tips for running a stress free project over the next few months:
- COMMUNICATION IS KEY. The current UK divorce rate is 42%. You don’t want to embark upon your ‘dream home’ renovation or build and have no one to share it with at the end. Voice your needs to your partner so you can already be on a united front before the contractors are on site.
- ASK FOR HELP. No one is expecting you to have all the answers. Share the load. Your architect, designer and contractor are there to advise you with their wealth of experience, whether it’s MVHR systems, or what appliances will save them the most money.
- TRUST YOUR TEAM. Spend the time to choose the right team for your project, it’s important you feel that they have your best interests at heart and aren’t just in it for the profit margin or portfolio shots. If you trust your team, you’ll feel more at ease delegating the responsibility.
- BE REALISTIC WITH YOUR BUDGET. Costs are escalating on a weekly basis. If you priced up your build 6 months ago, add an extra 20% to that. If your design team or contractor is advising you of material shortages or variable costs, believe them, the industry is still unstable. If you set out with a fixed mindset about how much something should cost, you’ll only be disappointed further down the road.
- PRIORITISE YOUR PRIORITIES. If you’re embarking upon a new build project because you’ve always dreamt of a sustainably designed, carbon neutral home, put this at the top of your list – don’t spend all your budget on ‘pretty’ things that don’t meet your needs and forgo the things you set out to accomplish. You’ll resent it.
- REQUEST QUOTES, NOT ESTIMATES. This may seem obvious, but it’s a common cause of stress for clients managing their own projects. You receive a few ‘estimates’, you go with the second cheapest, the contractors get on site and it ends up costing you twice as much. Talk about your budget from the outset, be open and honest and request a ‘quote’, not an ‘estimate’.
- DOUBLE IT. No matter what level of budget we are working with, it’s never enough for what the client dreams of. If you have an idea in mind of what you’d like to achieve for your budget, you would likely have to double that spend to even get close to the finish you’re expecting. There are only three ways around this, either increase your budget, lower your expectations, or work with a studio that is adept at allocating budget, searching sales and utilising trade discounts.
- COMPARISON KILLS JOY. If I had a pound for every time we’d heard, ‘we went to a friends house and they had this’… Your home should be designed for your needs and lifestyle. Don’t design your home to impress others.
- BE PATIENT. Good things come to those who wait. Anything worth doing takes time. Slowly is the fastest way to get to where you want to be. One minute of patience, ten years of peace. You get the picture.
- ENJOY THE RIDE. Interior design can have a dramatic impact on your daily wellbeing, but let’s be clear we’re not doing open heart surgery. Yes there can be pressures, but the process of designing your home should be fun. Let go a little, relax your grip and try to enjoy the process, it’ll be worth it in the end!
You can find Studio JQ on social media @thestudiojq where we share project updates, weekly design tips and what we actually get up to on a daily basis – it’s not all champagne and canapés…despite the rumours!