6 Things Designers Wish You Would Try While Decorating

published Nov 20, 2018
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

When we asked top interior designers from coast to coast what trends, colors, or design suggestions they beg clients to get on board with, we ended up with a surprisingly concise and thoughtful list that underscored open-mindedness.

Designers want you to be brave. And no, not so they can run amok with this season’s wildest styles or avant garde furnishings, but in the name of helping you get the most out of your space. Taking a step out of your comfort zone can make your home all the more, well, comfortable. Just listen to the professionals.

So for those dreaming of a home design project, take the leap, lean in and get bold. Without further ado, here are the top six things designers really, really want you to buy into, even though they can be hard sells..

Press Go with a Professional

Instead of calling out a particular Pantone or style aesthetic, Emilie Munroe of Studio Munroe says one of the biggest leaps of faith for a client is simply starting a project in the first place.

She said she encounters questions like: “‘But what if the kids spill on the beautiful new furnishings?’ ‘What if we move in 5 years?’ ‘What if my partner and I don’t have compatible taste, and the house never comes together?'” over and over.

But for Munroe, bringing a professional into the mix can quell all of these fears. Her role is to ensure lifestyle and environment are perfectly aligned. If you can’t afford to hire an interior designer, you can also try one of the many online decorating services out there, like Homepolish and Modsy.

Be Bold and Pick Patterns

The hardest sell for San Francisco based interior designer, Alison Pickart is getting clients on board with patterns and deep colors, which are great for ‘pass through’ spaces like stairwells and hallways.

“For a custom interior, [patterns and saturated colors] are usually the two things that set an interior apart from ‘mass design,'” she explained. “I have found that a pattern usually becomes more interesting the longer you live with it”

Jen Going of Jen Going Interiors echoes this sentiment, noting that combining these elements can truly transform a space.

“I love it when a client is open to the concept of layering, for example, jewel tone colors, bold patterns, and exotic accents,” she said.

Seek Out Original Art

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Erin Gates, founder and principle designer of of Erin Gates Design, says investing in original art can be a hurdle because of the cost. The upside? It’s a win-win in the long run.

“Having a one-of-a-kind piece in your home is essential to having it feel personal and unique,” she explained. “Also, it’s a good investment financially!”

Of course, there are also plenty of places to buy affordable art online, including Etsy, Minted, and 20×200. You can also try custom framing through Framebridge or Keepsake.

Remember Square Footage Isn’t Everything

Aránzazu González Bernardo and Michael Norman Fohring, the design duo behind Toronto-based design firm Odami, find that pursuing quality over quantity when it comes to creating space can be hard for clients to wrap their minds around.

“Clients are often really closed towards giving up square footage to make a more interestingly-formed or appropriately-proportioned space,” they explained.

Designer Elizabeth Ingram also challenges the conservative ideas that clients might have about taking up a little extra room.

“Large-scale items are tough. People are always afraid of big scale and the drama it can create,” she said.

Treat Your Windows They Way You Would Like to Be Treated

Another tough sell for Erin Gates? Patterned window treatments.

“People get worried they won’t like them in the future and that it’s too big of a commitment, but it can really make a room special and spectacular,” she said.

Emilie Munroe agrees, though she prefers a layered look with a natural fiber shade against the window combined with a drapery panel or fabric roman above for color, softness, and blackout coverage.

“This duo can induce sticker shock at first, but once a client commits, the results are always a showstopper in the room,” she explained.

Take the Holistic Approach

(Image credit: Mackenzie Schieck)

For Cailtin Murray of Black Lacquer Design, keeping clients focused on a holistic and artful approach can be the hardest sell of all.

“Clients often get excited about the things that they are seeing in magazines and want to incorporate them into their spaces,” she said. “But sometimes these trends don’t necessarily work with the design direction we set at the outset of the project.”

You can pick bold patterns, bright window treatments and invest in original art, but a space can’t be all things at once.

“Every home presents both unique limitations and opportunities, and you really want to keep an open-mind about what will and won’t work for it,” she said.