I Always Wanted To Be A Teacher
When I was little one of my favorite things to do was to play “school” with my best friend. There was never any doubt about who was going to be the teacher – me – and she was always the perfect, eager student. Maybe it was because I was older, maybe it was because I was bossy, or maybe it was because I liked flipping the script and being the one who had the all the answers. Whatever it was, it was my first taste of sharing imminent wisdom from my whopping 6 years on the planet and I have to say, it felt really good.
When I started my design practice I never realized how much teaching I would be doing. That is until person after person came to me in exasperation saying, “I don’t know what to do, there are way too many decisions and I’m totally lost?” A design dream come true right? Wrong. I worked with a designer a long time ago who had a very particular style and when left to her own devices, she inevitably fell back on her beautiful but safe color palette, her favorite décor items, and her tried and true furniture style. It was pretty predictable. But then a client came along who pushed her out of her comfort zone and I have to say the result was stunning. Apparently that place in the middle where they pushed each other, and then agreed, was some kind of sacred ground and it resulted in the most interesting, most eclectic and most personal interior. It certainly helped that this client had good taste but the lesson I learned was that a partnership is a lot richer and more rewarding and will yield a much more dynamic result if you let it.
I am not a “my way or the highway” kind of girl. I pride myself on partnering with my clients and not pushing my ideas on them, respecting what they bring to the table (because a good idea can come from anywhere) and choosing my battles carefully because ultimately, this is their house and they have to live in it. And because this is my credo I have found myself turned teacher again. I love educating my clients on the do’s and don’ts of rug fibers, which wood tones play well together and which don’t, the importance of measuring and how to tape things out on the floor, and the difference between flat, matte, and eggshell. I don’t worry that they’ll learn so much and not need me because while I can teach them the science, and give them the benefit of my experience as well as my mistakes, I can’t give them the artistic eye or skill required to successfully bring together a mix of styles. And the truth is, that middle meeting ground is still where the magic happens.
I will tell you that an educated client with a honed eye is the absolute best. They are a pleasure to work with and in fact, friendships often form from these types of partnerships and for that I am very grateful. I’ll admit that it’s definitely more work, and it does take time to explain the why’s and wherefores of every design decision, but I am lucky to have clients I genuinely like and who I happily go the extra mile for. And while I have a few more years on the planet from my early days at the blackboard, the reward is just as great.