Have you ever wondered how that designer convinced their client to spring for chartreuse drapery? That leopard wallpaper? Or that clashing-but-not-clashing accent pillow and sofa combination?
We asked six designers how they convince clients to go bold with their design projects. Of course, most clients hiring a designer known for their daring use of color and fearless love of pattern are probably in the market for something adventurous. But, when push comes to shove, that doesn’t mean they’re always ready to dive into the deep end of bold design.
So, from paying close attention to a client’s preferences on color in their daily life to showing a client how something that’s wild on paper can translate into just right IRL, here’s how these designers convince their clients to walk on the colorful, patterned, and bold side of design.
Tap Into a Client’s Favorite Color
Diane Rath of The Rath Project takes a holistic approach by framing bold decisions around what a client already gravitates towards, looking at the colors in their clothes, their home, and more.
She says, “Most clients are hiring us because our aesthetics are already in alignment— or because deep down they have an urge to head in a “bold” direction and are looking for a push. We always encourage starting with one favorite color, pattern, or mood first.”
For example, Rath notes that if blue is a color that the client continuously finds appealing, she will bring that into the design in some capacity. “At first, it could be through tile, wallpaper, or furnishings, but usually, once we get the ball rolling there’s no turning back,” she notes. “It’s easy to convince someone that they’ll be comfortable in an environment full of a particular color or theme if they naturally gravitate towards that before we even arrive.”
Honing in on colors that already speak to them—and just taking them up a notch—helps them feel confident that the more audacious elements will be a natural fit in their space.
Similar to Rath’s take on working with a client’s favorite color, Erin Byrnes of Byrnes Interiors starts with a color the client loves but then takes it up a notch. If they love blue, she’ll hone in on that and pick complementary elements that are sure to speak their language.
“It depends on the client, but when it comes to color, I find people usually tend to gravitate towards certain bolder colors in smaller doses, whether it’s in their wardrobe, jewelry, accessories, etc., even if they aren’t always tuned into it,” she says. “Honing in on colors that already speak to them—and just taking them up a notch—helps them feel confident that the more audacious elements will be a natural fit in their space. They will love them for years to come.”
Dip a Toe in With a Bold Small Space
Easing clients into bold design can start small. Zoe Feldman of Zoe Feldman Design says, “When trying to get a client to be bold, I focus on a smaller space like the powder room or butlers pantry. It’s easier to convince someone to take risks in a space they don’t need to live in but rather only experience for brief moments at one time.
Going bold in smaller spaces creates an element of surprise—a moment for your guests to discover and for you to enjoy in small moments, Feldman notes. “Deep colors and bold patterns also create a jewel box effect which allows a person to feel fully ensconced in the space,” she says.
Jenna Pilant of Room Bloom on YouTube works with clients who are looking for anything but beige, but that doesn’t mean they always understand how to fully grasp their love of technicolor.
“With Room Bloom’s colorful design aesthetic, my clients tend to be already bold at heart,” Pilant says. “My job as their designer is to further embrace that uniqueness—what makes them them—and help display that throughout their home. I get them there through a series of conversations, questions, and visuals, which helps bridge the gap between fear of making a colorful decision and having to live with a possible bold mistake.”
Show Them a Bold Room is Like a ‘No Makeup’ Makeup Look
Like many things in life, design is never as simple as it seems. Shannon Claire Smith of Shannon Claire Interiors notes that you have to explain to clients that an impactful, finished design has lots of moving parts—and the finished product is often less bold than the design board.
“Convincing a client to go bold can be a difficult task, especially if that client naturally gravitates towards neutral elements, or maybe feels a bit trigger shy when it comes to pattern and color,” Smith says. “I like to remind clients that what may look bold or too bright and colorful on paper often translates much better in person. A design board that’s cluttered or filled with patterns and colors in one slide or on one piece of paper looks like it may be over the top, but translated to a room with tall ceilings, open space, and natural light is a completely different story.
Smith likens bold design to the ever-popular “no makeup” look: in order to look casual and effortless, there are actually a ton of steps and products that go into that finished look. “It’s the same thing with design: if you want your room to be interesting and visually stimulating, you have to layer in a lot more color and pattern than you may think,” she says.
Establish Trust Between Designer and Client
Kate Smith of Kate Smith Interiors knows that all relationships come down to trust and that’s what leads to the most successful designs, particularly when they involve a bold design decision.
“A relationship between a designer and a client is all about trust,” she says. “I love using color to bring a space to life, and I’ll remind my clients that they hired me to come up with ideas that they wouldn’t come up with on their own. My favorite thing to hear from a client when we finish a project is ‘I never would have thought to do that, but I absolutely love it!’ I know then that my job is done.”
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