Understanding what home owners are looking for in design

Being an interior designer for almost 20 years has taught me a great deal about home design and it has taught me even more about human emotion, relationships and what makes people tick.

When you are involved in developing a client’s personal space it can get emotional and, well, personal!

Over the years I have had many strange and endearing requests from clients which stick in my memory banks, there are many stories I could share but these few are the ones that seem to stay with me.

One of my favorites is an older gentleman who came in years ago looking for carpet; as we chatted back and forth he mentioned his golden retriever and said how much seeing the hair on the carpet bothered him.

I jokingly suggested that we choose a carpet which is the same colour as the pup to ease his irritation.

His face lit up and he thought that was a fantastic idea.

Before I could respond he was heading for the door saying, “I will be back in a minute”, a few minutes later he pulled back into the parking lot and who was in the passenger seat?

You guessed it, the dog! We took samples out to the car until we found the right shade of golden; his project was on the go and he was extremely happy. The dog was pretty sweet too, it isn’t often that I get my face licked while I am showing carpet samples.

A couple I helped had a very specific request.

The wife wanted very dark carpet in the family room. The colour could be lighter in other areas of the house but the family room needed to be dark.

As they parried back and forth I got the sense that the husband did not want dark carpet but his wife was not to be moved – she was insistent.

I probed with a few questions when the wife turned to me and blurted out, “His feet are SO DIRTY and he rubs them on the carpet constantly when we watch TV, he’s like a cricket always rubbing his feet back and forth.”

Her poor husband!

He turned a few shades of red and I knew she had spoken the truth and I realized why she wanted dark carpet.

My recovery was swift and professional and eventually we found the right shade of carpet and had smaller mats made up for his feet – problem solved, marital harmony restored.

From countertop selections that hide coffee stains because a client didn’t like wiping her counters to bathroom floors chosen to minimize showing hair (yes, even the unmentionable kind) the requests are sometimes baffling and often hilarious.

When a client chooses a palette because it matches her pet bunny you know a certain rabbit is a very important part of her life and you roll with it – after meeting the rabbit of course!

The homes we live in are the ultimate expression of our personal space and the show of trust when you hire someone to come in and help you develop that space can be nerve-wracking.

Even if requests seem strange, trust in the fact that most designers have witnessed even stranger and we are able to help you with any request you may have.

Kim Wyse is a local freelance designer. Find her on facebook at ‘Ask a Designer’.

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