Monday, June 27, 2011

Long Distance Design: 5 Tips for Success

Today Cathy Wall, of Room Rx, is sharing tips on how to work successfully with a designer long distance. With this approach becoming such a popular way to work, these guidelines may prove to be very helpful in ensuring the project is a success!

These days it is all the rage, "E Design," "Long Distance Decorating," whatever you want to call it, the service is being offered up by long time designers, newbie decorators and design bloggers alike. The process typically involves some back and forth electronic (the "E") communication and sharing of information with an end result including some or all of the following: a Design Concept Board, a furniture plan, materials samples, a list of resources/pricing for purchasing products and materials and advice on how to put it all together.

{design board}

{room before}

{room after}

The difference between designing a room this way and traditional decorating is that the designer never actually sees the room in person before creating the look and the final product is installed by the client, not the designer or designer's contractors. Often the designer does not even meet the client in person, but rather establishes a relationship electronically, via e-mail, photographs, texts or cell phone.

So how do you know if this service is for you and if so, what are the keys to success? Having done long distance decorating on and off for the past five years, most recently in my “Room Rx” format, here are some things that I have learned:

1) Be Ready To Roll Up Your Sleeves!

Long distance decorating is perfect for those with a "Do It Yourself" mentality and a bit of decorating confidence. This is important because once the designer shares the plan, it is up to the client to interpret and execute it, often without further help and guidance from the designer. Therefore the client needs to be ready to roll up their sleeves and make it happen on their own.

Here are some "before and after" shots of a bathroom renovation completed with the help of a "Room Rx" design plan.


{the after's}

2) Communication is Key

During the initial information sharing, it is important a client be very specific about their needs, likes, dislikes, what stays, what goes, etc. Many “E Design” services start with a questionnaire; it is important to fill it out with great detail and with more information than may be required. Send photos, send measurements, send paint color info, whatever it takes to share the vision (or lack of). It is key to ask questions about the service so that the client knows exactly what to expect and that they get exactly what is needed. If the client doesn't like something or absolutely love it, this needs to be shared. Honesty is critical to success.

3) Know What You are Paying For

There are many different “E Design” services at many different price points out there. As the client, do the research and be comfortable that you are getting as much or as little help as you need for a price that you are comfortable with. If you are a person that needs a bit of hand holding, make sure the service offers some follow up, if you just need a kick start, an initial good idea or direction, go with a service that gives you just that. Don’t pay for more or less than what it will take for you to get your design job done. This is a fabulous way to get excellent advice from a talented individual for a great price.

{design board}


4) A Good Rapport

A good repoire between the designer and client is vital. As a client, do you feel comfortable with the designer? Even though this process happens via electronic communication, you can get a sense for the person. Are they listening to you, answering your questions? Do they have a look or style that is a fit for you? If the decorator has a blog, read it. An on line portfolio? Look at it. Client comments? References? Check them out. The more you know about the designer the more comfortable you will feel and the happier you will be with the end result. Great design is more often than not about good relationships.

5) Trust

Once you have done your homework and selected the service and designer that is right for you, trust that their expertise, knowledge and talent will allow them to come up with the perfect design solution for you needs. Be open minded, relinquish some control and roll with the designer’s ideas. You will be amazed and delighted with how things turn out and may learn a thing or two in the process, perhaps building your confidence and enabling you to take on future projects on your own.

If you have considered using an “E Design” or “Long Distance Decorating” service, but have been unsure, I hope these tips have helped answer some questions will allow you to move forward confidently. Blogging and the internet have created a brave new decorating world, opening the doors of great design and inspiration to all.

To see more of Cathy's work, visit her website Room Rx. And I'm curious, have you worked with a designer long distance? Are you a designer offering these services? If so, what has been your experience been?


Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

Thanks Cathy, if I had read this advice prior to offering remote design services myself I probably would have done a better job!! Very helpful tips! Janell

Carrie @ Hazardous Design said...

Excellent advice. Cathy has taken all the guesswork out of what to expect from long distance decorating. I haven'y tried it myself, but I'm certainly warming up to the idea.

Holly said...

great article - very useful advice, thanks =)

Interior Design Musings said...

Great post! M.

Jennifer Anderson said...

Superb!! I have already bookmarked your blog!! welder