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How to Talk About Your Style With Home Pros

When you’re preparing to work with a pro on a home project, whether it’s an architect, landscape designer, interior decorator or another design professional, properly communicating your preferences in a clear and concise way can help your designer in perfectly understanding exactly what you’re seeking out.

By properly gathering inspiration and thoroughly assessing your likes and dislikes, you will be better equipped to have those essential conversations with your designer.

Make a Love List and a Not-for-Me List

You may have already heard that it’s generally a great idea to gather images and ideas of things you enjoy when you are preparing to meet with an interior designer — but have you thought about making a list of the things you do not like? Perhaps surprisingly, those dislikes can be just as crucial.

Try to Get Visual

A majority of interior designers’ work is highly visual, so it makes sense that the best way to communicate your likes and dislikes is through images. This keeps things clear and concise. As an example, if you think of “desert style” as being southwestern with a good amount of natural wood and colorful textiles, but your designer is envisioning more of a Palm Springs midcentury desert type of feel, conflict is bound to happen.

But when you can point to a photo and say, “I love this,” or “I really don’t like this look,” you and your design pro can get on the same page almost instantly. .

Include Images Which Directly Relate to Your Project

A great place to begin is collecting images for your likes and dislikes lists with examples of the specific type of project you are planning on. If you’ll be working with a landscape designer or landscape architect, for instance, be on the look out for photos of landscapes.

If you are looking to hire an architect for a home remodel or custom build, our interior designer suggest you seek out photos of exteriors and whole-house designs. If you’re redesigning your kitchen, look for more kitchen photos. We think you get the picture.

But Include Some Less On-Topic Photos Too

Don’t be afraid to include a few images that don’t directly relate to the type of project but are nevertheless a great example of a specific style you love — or hate, as the case may be. Lifestyle, food and garden images can be wonderful examples of color palettes and can give your design pro a better handle on your overall style than just the project photos.

Practice Being Picky

When you first begin filling those idea books with photos, give yourself an opportunity to have free rein to choose as many photos as you want. Enjoy it! But when you’re ready to go back in for a second look, it’s time to get picky. Try and focus on narrowing down each list to the top 10 to 20 best examples.

As a result, not only will this give your design pro a more manageable amount of images to examine, but it will give you practice making design-related choices as well. The more you flex that design strength, the easier it will be to talk about your likes and dislikes.

Attempt To Get Specific

Being able to point to an image you love or hate is helpful, but confusion and miscommunications can still arise if you don’t specify exactly what it is about the space that you like or do not like.

You might be thinking about the color palette, but your interior designer might focus on the furniture style — and they unfortunately won't know if you do not tell them!

To make things even easier a note beneath each photo in your ideabook that explains in words exactly what it is about the space that made you include it.

Use the following checklists as a guide, and see how many you can include in your own lists.


Favorite color or colorsColor palette or combination of colors that appeals to youFurniture you loveA room where you love the mood or general vibeIf you’re looking at architecture, a house or overall space that appeals to youIf you’re looking at landscapes, a complete yard that captures the general feeling you’re afterSpecific features you definitely want to include

NOT FOR ME Checklist:

Specific colors or shades of colors that you have a strong aversion toMotifs or finishes that are not your cup of teaPet peevesColor combinations that you do not enjoy togetherA room where you do not like the overall mood or vibe Still Stumped?

If you’ve gotten this far, you deserve a huge pat on the back. It’s not easy to pin down your style — and remember, you don’t have to completely nail it. Usually, your design pro is there to walk you through this entire process. But the more thought you have put in on the front end, the easier it will be for you and your designer to have a fruitful working relationship.

To that end, if you’ve gone through these exercises and are still having trouble determining your style, you might want to think laterally: Are there any restaurants, brands or shops that exemplify your loves and hates?

As long as the places you’ve selected are ones your designer is familiar with (or can easily find images of), this can be a helpful addition to your style information.

Always remember that although it is c crucial to be able to communicate your preferences to your interior designer, it is just as important once you’ve made your initial thoughts and feelings clear to step back and trust your interior designer to come up with some creative ideas that you would never have thought of on your own.

Will the all be things you love? Maybe not, and you can always work to get to a place you love. But then again, you might just surprise yourself by loving something you never thought you would, thanks to your interior designer’s creative vision.

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