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How To Work with a Client with Bad Taste

How To Work with a Client with Bad Taste

Diana Mahoney | The Design Partner

When it comes to the phrase “bad taste”, do you immediately go to stereotypical images of front porch flamingos and plastic-covered furniture? No, that’s the bad taste grandmother to the current generation’s mix of over-abundance in color, pattern and all things “trendy."

If in your first meetings with a client you can sense a not-so-keen eye toward design, fear not – she’s hired you! Bad taste can be re-directed, and it’s your job to guide your client to a fantastic result. It’s all about trust. (Isn’t it always?)

Some clients are intimidated by interior designers and architects. As an interior designer, part of your job includes a little psychology and stellar inter-personal communication skills. It’s not your job to correct or make your client feel badly. Clients need reassurance and understanding. You have to listen, get the necessary project information and create a beautiful design that is relatable to your client.

If the client feels “heard”, respect is established. Once this trust is established, the designer can present concepts and ideas the client will be more open to. Mutual respect is a key component to a successful outcome.

This is not manipulation. You have been hired for your professional skills. Take your client’s input seriously and understand her objectives, but don’t hesitate to give constructive guidance in a gentle way. Design is subjective, and you can influence and facilitate your planning while still allowing the client to have control with decision-making.

5 Steps To Follow If Your Client Has Bad Taste

1. Always be professional and polite. (Check your ego at the door…You already have the job.)

2. Listen to your client carefully. She wants the project to reflect her taste and lifestyle.

3. Build trust with your client. She wants reassurance and validation.

4. Be a facilitator. Guide your client to project objectives by incorporating adaptations and/or enhancements taken from your planning meetings.

5. Have fun. Take advantage of the opportunity to further develop your professional skills and win over your client. She’ll come back to you again, and so will her friends!


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