Tuesday, March 5, 2013

House Beautiful and Flying Kites

Hi ya'll.  Spring is upon us!  I saw someone flying a kite today. YAY!

 Our house is almost done!  Floors can be walked on tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, I am working on a house over in University Heights.  Perfect client.  She is open to fresh ideas, color, and loves mixing things up.  You might see a sign for Pickwick House renovations in her yard soon.  

I started with my client's bedroom last year in a fresh Rosemary Green, I believe,  from Benjamin Moore.  It is a bedroom I would die for, actually,  fully loaded with several of my favorite designer-ish things, including a gold sputnik and raw brass visual comfort lighting.    I haven't shared the beautiful images shot by Heather Cherie Photography from that bedroom shoot yet, and I apologize for talking about something you've never seen before.  The problem with posting images to the blog first is that it will most likely not get published by publications after it's shared here or anywhere else first.  I will keep you posted on the soon-to-be-where-abouts I've just learned of.

I first submitted the bedroom to House Beautiful, {one of my fave magazines} for possible feature. They replied with a "Love the bedroom, and use of color, but wonder if there are other rooms from the house to see..." {Positive note to self:  They responded to my work, which was great.  The sad fact was that no other rooms in the house were done or even in progress yet.'}

I'll get back to the client's house post here, in a moment, but first, I should share with you that over the last year I have begun to realize that I needed fuller projects to showcase a full breadth of my style.  When I look back upon the store front opening two years ago, I have to laugh, because I was taking on just about any and every project that came my way.  Including weddings. While I am SO grateful for all the support and work I have received from wonderful clients... THANK YOU to all of you, you know who you are!!!  {many of which are life long clients and friends now},  I would be lying if I told you I haven't learned some valuable lessons from mistakes I've made and also of projects that were not a good match for me.

I'm getting a little side tracked here, and perhaps putting more out there than you may care to hear, but I want to share with you a project that I learned SO much from.

One project in particular where I took on a 'friend of a friend' without a contract being signed.  {I'm sure you know where this is going.}  He was a nice guy and I fully expected to take on the challenge of knocking his socks off with the 'please factor' for an upcoming local magazine spread that he needed to be ready for in a few short weeks.  {BAD IDEA to not do a contract, btw....For both myself and that client.}  Without going over the contract, he had a somewhat vague idea about what I expected and vice/versa.   Because of the rush, I tried to rush into it too fast.  I was so eager to please him, and flattered that he wanted me to work for him.  I failed to start it off with the foundation for our agreement.  A contract.

I took the project on in my ninth month of my pregnancy and finalized the project the week of my baby's birth, in the dog days of summer.  Not only that, the project was outside.  In his garden shed, that he wanted to turn into a wine tasting room.  In the heat.  In July.  NO air conditioning.  Nine months prego.  WHAT was I thinking?  Ha.  The end result of the space ended up being executed beautifully by myself, and my intern, and my team of reliable and efficient guys...but not without heat exhaustion and a bad case of mastitis....THE week of my baby's birth.  Regretfully, I went back to work on this very project THE day after arriving home from the hospital, even though Will had urged me to take time off and told me to tell my client to fly a kite for a while. 

I am a perfectionist and rarely leave a project without giving it my all.  I got mastitis.  BAD. Urgency was all I heard in the client's voice, and I just did not want to let him down. I SO wanted to please him.  I worked my butt off, but in the end, I still did not please him.  So goes that same ole saying..."You can't please everyone."

This post can't go without a big shout out to my my intern, Hillary, who worked for free for countless hours on this one.  Also, to my exceptionally talented carpenter who charged a very discounted wholesale price to the client for gorgeous, custom made cabinets, and to my contractor, Stormy, who ran out there at least three times and never charged me or the client.  {The project made it to the local magazine, but without  a mention of Pickwick House or any links to my website.  I should've fully expected this would happen.}

Looking back, I wished I had not taken the client on.  There were cues that I should've picked up on.  Expectations for custom designs for custom woodworking, customized furnishings, and customized accessories to be done in a short amount of time.  I made him mad that things weren't done faster.  I hope that this never happens again for me, for future clients, or for any other first time designers starting out.  I hope you can learn from some of my mis steps.

Here are my
1.  Be realistic about the time and scope of the project.  Working on a house is a labor of love.  If there is a deadline, make sure you allow extra time for customized orders.
2.  Be up front with the client.  Go over EVERY single thing in the contract.  Take your time in talking about the money, the timeline, and the up charging on items that you are sourcing, etc.  Flat fees vs. hourly.  Clients need to know what to expect.  They are paying for it, after all.  If you are clear from the beginning, then the trust factor is built upon a firm foundation.
3.  Let them know what you expect.   It's okay to expect a glass of water from a client.  Especially in the 100 degree heat.  If the project is going to be published, let them know that you own the copyrights to the work, and that you expect on-page magazine credits.  This should be in the contract.  It should even be written into the contract specifically how you would like it written:  i.e., Interior Design:  sharon taylor of sharontaylordesigns.com/, items in garden shed from Pickwick House.
4.  Charge client for all project manager's time, even if they are unpaid interns.
5.  Reiterate and 'refrigerate' yourself on hot days on occasion that good things take time and know that sometimes backorders make for heated exchanges, also hot days require air conditioning.  haha.  Customized things take even longer.  And, with certain work rooms and mills, it takes that, times three.
6.  Don't get in a rush when signing a new client on.  Interview them.  Be selective.  And don't take a job because you are desperate for money.  Don't work for free.  I still tell myself not to work for free.  And many times, under sell myself, all for the love of what I do.

Okay, so where was I?  As, I was saying at the beginning of the post....We are now  reworking the rest of the house in University Heights.  Kitchen revamping...gutting the dark granite, getting rid of old appliances, and all things beige.  Bye-bye beige!!  Dining room, and living room overhaul too.  All being done in fresh, springtime colors.  We are adding some sweet turkish rugs, a fabulously quirky galleried art wall, and some wallpaper touches, and using many of  her already existing antiques and family heirlooms.

Do you love green?  Well, I do.  I can hardly get away from using it on all projects, I love it so much.  We are doing a deeper, more daring green than I'm used to. I am calling it a happy hunter green.

This is the chandelier my client found on craigslist for $40!  Makes me think of lucite.  Lucite is still happening, for me, anyway.  

                              I LOVE this one!!  Isn't it not perfection? Not sure where it's going yet.  Maybe her office.

Just some of the ebay and etsy purchases at the framers.

Pulling some wild colors, patterns, and textures together.  Don't worry.  We're not going with that blue color.  Haha.  

Gotta run now.  House is a wreck with samples the baby is scribbling on..

P.S., one more thing to share...

I thought I'd come back and share this piece above.  Not sure who the artist is, but I love it.  Sort of struck a cord with me since I not only love b&w, but because I appreciate the artistry in finding that line where the client and designer converge to make something beautiful.  Also, that there is always another side to the story.  And, perhaps, most insignificantly, it places the importance on signed agreements too:-)




Kendra Skinner said...

Great wisdom Sharon! Thanks for sharing. I was soaking that up. As we are in the beginning stages of our business, I love hearing advice from those who have gone before us=) Love the house updates too btw...keep those coming!!

A Lifestyle Thing said...

Kendra, that means a lot. Thank you. I may not know a lot, but I do know you have to cover your butt every step of the way! Haha. I'm so happy for you in your new biz. It looks fantastic. Btw, what's Justin's email? I need to have some work done. Inside and out. haha.

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