Individuality in Design

I have been visiting a lot of homes lately and noticing how different the people live to me. I know that I wouldn't choose to configure my home like they have but it works for them. As an interior designer it is not my role to change the way they live - just enhance the environment and make it work better for them. Some people like to spend their indoor outdoor living time in the morning and catch the morning sun on their deck, others the afternoon, so they have their home arranged quite differently. It is all related to how we live in our home. Some people are elderly and enjoy the morning sun with a cup of coffee and prefer to be indoors at the end of they day as they tire and just want to feel warm and safe inside. Young couples often only have the evenings and the weekend to enjoy their home so their important spaces are more likely to be the kitchen, bathroom and bedrooms. Young family's homes are usually chaotic, the kitchen and bathroom are always being used so are often cluttered as the focus for them is on caring for their children. Professional couples often entertain at home so their importance is on the living/dining and kitchen areas and are usually highly specified with expensive fittings and fixtures as they are often more affluent.
The most important thing I have learned from visiting homes lately, some of these homes are being repaired after the earthquakes and some will be rebuilt, is that most of the people who are having their homes rebuilt want the same layout as they already have as it works on their site and they are comfortable with it. I am surprised at this as I would have thought it would be a great time to change things, I know I definitely would but that is probably because of my background in design. Others just want their lives to be back to normal and be in familiar spaces that work for them. The repairs for the homes are similar, they are happy with what they have. It has been a good lesson for me, as an interior designer I need to be reminded that you don't impose your values and way of living on others. You are there to find out what they want and how you can use your design skills to make the space as efficient and aesthetically pleasing as you can. You have to listen and observe how people live, get in tune with their habits and rituals, find out what is really important to them. Something that seems minor to me like an glazed aluminium wind block screen could be vitally important in their life as they have saved up to have it installed and it increased their quality of life, they are emotionally and financially attached to it, it is important.
The most amazing thing that I have come across is ovens. Yes, 20-30 year old ovens that people love and do not want to part with. I can now understand from taking a look at them as the standard ovens you buy today internally are much smaller, but you just can't get these great big wall ovens anymore.
People don't seem to worry about curtains, I found this surprising as our curtains website is so poplar, I thought everyone loved curtains! Maybe it is something they forget about until they get back into their home, they treat it as decoration rather than the design of the home.
Finally, what I want to share with you is that we can make a difference with our interior design skills to anyone, money doesn't assure good design, it does help but being sympathetic to your client, getting to know them and working out how they will use their home and working to their budget is critical to a positive end result. You could be spending their money in all the wrong places if you aren't in tune with them.
So have fun with your design, enjoy meeting different people and helping to make their interior environments a better place and most importantly remember that you don't know it all, you will never stop learning and valuable honest lessons can be learned from those who possess the least.

Of course I have to direct you to a few new articles on our curtains website, I hope they give you some insight into choosing curtains.

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Comments

Unknown said…
In fact Lee, it was a good lesson for us reading this useful article, as you said "You will never stop learning and working to their budget is critical to a positive end result" and more you are there (their houses) to find out what they want, that´s the real purpose and use your skills to please them as you can. Thanks for this lesson, it summarizes everything we (your students) have to know to deal with our future clients.

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