Hail Mary Full Of Grace My Sanity Is With Thee

Religion hope: Madonna praying hands, Recoleta cemetery, Buenos Aires, South America

Let me say right up front that the right time to hire a designer is at the beginning of your project. That time when you are still trying to define your style, aren’t quite sure what you want or need, and definitely before you’ve started spending real money. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of people try to go it alone and then realize that they are in way over their heads and I know exactly why.

I have come to the conclusion that a common denominator among all of my clients is a powerful undercurrent of overwhelm. Since many of them have chronically busy lives, it’s no surprise that they see the whole process of reimagining their homes as an enormous and holy nightmare that will never get done if left up to them to squeeze into the spare crumbs of their zero time. Or they might have the right instinct and good taste but once they’re in the marketplace they start hyperventilating from the number of choices available for even the smallest thing. Or maybe they tremble at the thought of having to pull the trigger and potentially make a wrong decision so they wind up in a frozen state of paralysis. Or perhaps they see SO many things that they like that they can’t possibly choose, so they don’t. Sometimes it’s even all of the above.

All of these are just different states of overwhelm and it’s no wonder I have a job. Aside from educating my clients (which I do happily, and constantly) the other service I provide is to be a calm and experienced design Sherpa who’s been there/done that and can guide them through the unknown to the promised land of their dream home. I don’t hijack their vision or try to push my style onto them, but rather I carefully curate their wish list and help bring it all together in a way that is functional, beautifully badass, and within their budget parameters. Sounds easy, right?

The truth is, I can appreciate the tsunami of overwhelm because sometimes even I find myself lost in Wonderland. I am deep in the rabbit hole and in desperate need of a lifeline due to the myriad of furnishings, fabrics, finishes, colors, suppliers, return policies, shipping costs, and backorder dates. It really is staggering how many things need to be carefully considered when choosing even one piece of furniture. And while I don’t mean to be an alarmist, there are just too many people who started out thinking this would be fun and had NO idea how time-consuming and difficult it really is to pull a room together (plus, there IS some art to it, wink wink, or everyone’s home would be amazing, right?!) Basically, they didn’t know what they didn’t know, and now they want me to fix it with a rally in the fourth quarter. Sometimes I can make it better, and sometimes I honestly can’t because they’ve bought too many of the wrong things. I like to say, if you bought a bunch of shit and can’t make it work, then you probably have the wrong shit.

Engaging a designer at the beginning of a project or renovation is the best recipe for success. They won’t be required to undo costly mistakes, they can give your vision greater clarity and consistency, and they will save you a shitload of time, grief, and money. It’s the sanity play. And it’s always the right one because we all know the Hail Mary never really works.

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