Most people shop for ANYTHING house related the way I shop for fashion.
I was thinking about this the other day because I have been desperate to find a local stylist to help me with my clothes. Especially, when I have to come up with 12 different outfits to pack into a 3 week trip that includes three courses for 3 days each, PLUS outfits for High Point Market. I certainly can’t pack 12 pairs of shoes, haha.
Of course, I do this when I’m travelling (below) but I need a fresh eye to help me.
I haven’t been able to find a stylist who is willing to come all the way to Chilliwack where I live. Either that, or I look at their Instagram account and their outfits are just too neutral. I need a stylist who understands colour.
Anyway, back to my point. Because I don’t have a stylist who has conducted a review of my wardrobe and created a list of clothes that I might need, I shop BLIND.
Because I don’t really know what is missing.
So I come home with random purchases that I have decided I LOVE in the store, or they were ON SALE, and then, sadly, many of these items of clothing become orphans. They are rarely, if ever worn.
And that is exactly how most people shop for tile, or countertops, or sofas or dining chairs.
Recently, I was in a furniture showroom sourcing fabrics for a client. As I walked around the showroom, I noticed a woman who appeared to be in the process of choosing a fabric for her sofa.
She had about 5 or 6 fabric samples and she had laid them out on the sofa style she was buying, while she proceeded to hold them up, individually, looking at them in different angles (as if this would help).
Do you know how many readers or clients I have spoken to who said “It looked grey in the showroom but when it arrived in my house, it went taupe (or green or blue) and totally wrong in THEIR interior with THEIR existing furniture”. And now you’ve got a custom item in your home that you cannot return.
Another couple I recently consulted with, simply drove to the furniture store, looked through the available fabric samples, and placed a custom order (no returns) for almost $10,000, on a full set of upholstered dining room chairs and counter stools for their kitchen.
When I asked to see a fabric sample of the chairs, they did not have one. It had not occurred to them to ask for one (I made the same mistake the first time I bought a sofa years ago).
When you shop like this, you are making the exact same mistake that I make with fashion.
Not only are you likely to end up with the wrong colour, you think that it actually helps if you LOVE it in the showroom.
I get emails all the time from readers who have half renovated a space. They’re done, but something bothers them, and they don’t know what it is.
For example, they have replaced their countertops with white marble but left their patterned, earthy floor tile installed.
So they email me and ask for my opinion.
Every single time, they are quick to include “But I love my backsplash, or I fell in love with the countertop” and this statement especially breaks my heart, “Everyone who comes over loves it!” because validation from your friends, who don’t want you to feel bad, is not very accurate.
Bottom line, LOVE is always a part of these emails.
When clients work with me, and they make a countertop choice for example, the rest of the conversation is then about which colours or finishes ‘works best’ with the countertop (that they love). I am not constantly asking “Do you love this one?” or “How about that one?”
But I certainly asked those questions often when I was new. And the reason I did that is because I really didn’t know for certain, which one was right, or even if I did, I didn’t know how to explain why my instinct was correct.
I just hoped that they would choose because then I would be off the hook.
Now that I’ve conducted literally thousands of consultations, even if my client claims that they are in fact MADLY IN LOVE with that charcoal 12″ x 24″ tile, or that charcoal hardwood floor, I will try my very best to talk them out of it.
Because everyone is always in love with the current trends, but that will not leave you a classic and timeless interior.
When you consult with me, you are buying my classic and timeless aesthetic. And I’m super bossy (in a charming way) about it. Your aesthetic does not need to be the same as mine, but if you’re reading this then it probably is a little bit. Otherwise, it’s easy to click and find another designers blog who does have your aesthetic. And, there is nothing wrong with that!
Learning how to choose classic and timeless finishes and colours is the foundation of my colour training workshops.
Because you’ll learn how to choose and specify colour, and at the same time how to view design choices through the lens of classic and timeless. It’s much easier to work with a client or choose finishes for your house when you have a place to stand. Otherwise you really don’t know which one is right or why, so you end up shopping for your house the way most of us also shop for fashion.
We waste a lot of money without a plan and a vision in our heads for our wardrobe or our house.
Often students will approach me in my courses and tell me how their house was bothering them, and they hired me for an eDesign consultation and then after they followed my advice, they loved their house more.
So they register to attend my colour workshops because they want to learn more. They want to learn how to do it themselves.
Kind of like the old Proverb, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
After all, how many $2000 colour mistakes do you already live with in your house? The course is a bargain when you think about all the colour choices you’ll start making, understanding WHY it’s the right choice, instead of guessing and crossing your fingers and hoping that it just ‘turns out’.
Most of us can easily add up $2000 worth of fashion choices that were wrong as well. But at least if you buy a jumpsuit that isn’t as fabulous on you as it seemed to be in the fitting room or on the model online, it just sits in your closet until you give it away (hopefully to someone who appreciates it so you don’t feel like you’ve totally wasted your money) or ship it off to the thrift store.
So I’d just like to save you from that.
It really upsets me when too much money is spent on something that is just plain wrong.
My philosophy when it comes to your home, is let’s try to have it all. As much as we can.
The list of updates and items that you need for your home is often so much longer than the budget will allow.
So let’s spread your money around so you can have many beautiful things instead of just one.
After all, new, very expensive dining room chairs will still not give you a look and a feel. You’ll still need lamps, artwork, a rug and some accessories before the room will fill you with happiness when you walk in the door.
So please, whatever you do, DO NOT spend all your money on just chairs.
Or just the sofa.
Or the biggest house on the block.
And most important of all, bring your samples home FIRST, before you make a decision.
You can’t shop for finishes and furniture the way you shop for fashion, snapping up whatever catches your eye.
I’ve learned that when shopping for clothes, it’s a good idea to take it home and try it on with a few things to make sure I can get at least a couple outfits out of any new piece.
I would never ever commit to a fabric or line my walls with a tile that I hadn’t taken home a sample of first to test and scrutinize with the rest of my house.
One unrelenting truth that experience has taught me, and that I like to share, is that the each design element is in the service of the bigger picture.
I guess fashion is the same, the cutest skirt ever is not going anywhere without the rest of the outfit that works perfectly with it.
Over to you my lovelies, what’s the biggest colour mistake you’ve ever made? You’ll be in good company, because we’ve all made them!
How to be Smart in a World of Dumb Designers