Hello, my name is…
I was standing in line, waiting to get beverages for a friend and me. I was at an event I had been asked to attend as a resource for people needing interior design help. The atmosphere was festive and everyone was talking with whoever was nearby, friend or stranger. (As an introvert at heart with an extrovert’s outer shell, that’s always a sign of a good party to me.)
The group in front of me in line turned around and started introducing themselves. They saw my name tag which read, “Hi my name is Vendor, Beth Clark, B. Clark Interior Design.” After some jokes about my first name being Vendor, one of the gentlemen asked, “If I hired you for interior design help, what would be the first thing you would tell me I had to do to make my place look the way you think it should?” What a great question—but not necessarily for the reason you think. It’s a great question because it goes to the heart of what a lot of people think an interior designer does. Since I get asked a variation of this question a lot, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to think about what I want others to know about my approach interior design. So here was my answer to this gentleman’s question: I wouldn’t tell you do to anything. Instead, I would ask, what do you want to change? What do you need in this space? What style do you like? What colors do you like? How do you want your space to feel? What do you like about the space as it is? What I like doesn’t matter. This is your place, your project, and you’re the one that determines the style. I just pull it together for you after I ask you lots of questions and find out what you want and/or need.
By the long pause after my response, I could tell he didn’t expect this answer. His response of, “That’s a wonderful answer!” told me he had the impression a lot of people have: that when they work with an interior designer the designer’s opinion overrides their own preferences; that they’ll find out what they like isn’t right and they need to say goodbye to those colors they like; that maybe they’ll need to give up on the idea of having a comfortable, cozy chair—because it’s not possible to have a comfortable, cozy chair that actually looks good and would be acceptable to a designer, is it?
So let me clear up some misconceptions for you. I don’t think it’s my job to come in and tell you what you need or have to have. My job is to listen to you tell me what it is you’re looking for. I don’t have a style that I specialize in. In fact, I love almost every style out there—traditional, modern farmhouse, mid-century modern, these and many more looks all make my heart swoon. In fact, one of the things I love about what I do is I can live vicariously through my clients. (How fun is that?)
But here are some things that I do want to specialize in: I want to specialize in listening to my clients. I want to hear from them not only what styles and colors make their hearts swoon, but what needs to be done to make their homes easier to live in. I want to specialize in finding creative, stylish ways to make rooms look amazing and function well. Because what I really want is my style to be all about you. It’s as simple as that.