Unless you plan on tackling your entire project DIY, it’s likely that you’ll be working with some design professional on this project. This may be an architect, interior designer, kitchen and bath designer, a design-build firm, or just a design consultant in a showroom where you purchase your materials. Collaborating with the right type of design Pro can assist you with the creative process of designing your home and in achieving your design goals.

The key here is to establish a partnership between yourself and your design Pro. This is a delicate balance in the beginning, as you’re attempting to assert yourself creatively, while still trusting this person to pull everything together for you. It can take a little time to get a true rapport going, so don’t be discouraged if your designer doesn’t seem to be on the same page from minute one, or if they want you to do more digging into your options to come up with more ideas of your own.

The first thing to keep in mind is that your designer is not a mind reader. They don’t know what you want if you don’t tell them, show them, or offer up some imagery to share. A lot of homeowners believe that since designers work on home projects all day, every day, that they must instantly be able to guess what this project is all about.

But, every home improvement project is as unique as the family that lives there. So, it’s unfair to assume that your designer should have instant ideas and opinions on what would work best there. And, maybe your designer does have some ideas, but he or she may hesitate to imprint them over yours; your designer may want to hear what your thoughts are first before they offer their own, as this is your home that is being worked on – not theirs.

The best way to approach this relationship with your designer is to come in prepared to show at least some of your likes and dislikes. Most designers do specialize in some styles, so it’s likely that you’re already going to have the ice broken in that regard – if your new bathroom is going to be contemporary in style, then it’s probable that you’ll have hired a bathroom designer that has a portfolio full of contemporary designs that have spoken to you already. If you’ve seen examples of the designer’s work that you particularly liked, be sure to point those out; it can be a good starting point for you both.

Next, take your magazine images, samples, and image boards that you’ve created and show them to the Pro. Even if you don’t think they make sense, they’re still giving your designer a peek into your head and the kinds of things that you enjoy. Your designer will now be able to make recommendations for surfaces, materials, and designs that you may not have been aware of, but that are more in line with the kinds of things you like.

Finally, be honest with your Pro and keep the lines of communication open. If you aren’t wild about what they are doing, say so! Be polite, but tell them that it isn’t working for you. You don’t need to accept what they are doing if it isn’t what you want. Be clear, and try to show what is working so they can continue in those lines, rather than merely saying things like, “I don’t know, it just isn’t right.” Remember, your designer wants to please you, but they can’t unless you talk to them.

Designing is not a one-time effort; it can take days or weeks of collaboration before you and your designer finally come up with the final plans for the job. Don’t be discouraged if the first few meetings seem uneventful; by being in close communication at all times, you and your designer will be able to make your project come to life.  


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