definition: the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
Mindfulness is a word that has gone mainstream. Have you read about it? Similar to meditation, it requires one to simply pay attention to our present being, to our thoughts and feelings. The benefit of practicing mindfulness reduces stress and who doesn’t want that? Studies on mindfulness report a myriad of benefits in the physical, psychological and social arenas.
It occurred to me that mindfulness plays a very important role for clients in their design decision process. Remodeling is stressful enough with the fuss and dust during a remodel so who wouldn’t want to benefit from a little stress reducing mindfulness practice during the design phase. I know, I know, some of you get bored looking at floor plans or picking materials. I recognize that glazed over look during a design meeting from either the husband or wife, the one who really isn’t into selecting materials, but is dragged along anyways because they need to get the project done or just focused on the $ botton line. The last thing your Design Pro wants to hear from a client is “I didn’t think it would look like that.” I really dislike hearing this, and when it does happen, it’s rare, but it does come up on occasion with a client who isn’t mindful and complains after the fact.
Is the client always right? No. Not if they are not clear on what they want to begin with and complain later that they didn’t know what they were getting.
For the most part clients who are remodeling are generally excited about it all. I love it when clients are engaged in the process, ask questions and really get into the design decisions. It makes for the best outcome.
The client I worry about is the one who isn’t mindful of the design decisions. Ordering materials that is in direct conflict with what they truly want is not the fault of your Design Pro. What I know for sure is that many times a client’s actual desired look does not meet a client’s budget. It is a 100% certainty that the client who complains later about the outcome not meeting his desired look is the client who is not mindful during the design process. Whether it’s just RUSHING to get it done and blowing off the details or the single focus of BUDGET driving the decisions, if you let either of these two drivers, (1) rushing and (2) budget, get in the way of your vision, you will certainly be disappointed if you have not (a) resolved that you are buying materials not in alignment with your vision and (b) you have not communicated your true vision to your kitchen designer who is building in these details for the project. Mind readers we are not!
Having a budget or being on a tight deadline is not an issue for the Design Pro, as long as the client has come to terms that beer budget and champagne taste are truly not the same.
A couple of past projects come to mind. The client stressed “budget, budget, budget” for appliances and cabinets. What he didn’t verbalize to me was that he was envisioning a flush depth refrigerator when in actuality he was buying a big fridge at a great price that would stick out 10″ beyond the cabinets. Counter Depth was suggested by me initially and it was rejected by the client who was single focused on price. So the “BIG FRIDGE” was placed on the plan and approved by the client despite my disapproval. Another client was given an opportunity to choose between a nicer decorative panel and a plain panel. In both instances, there were emails, and more conversations about these details suggesting the enhanced alternative. In these two examples these two clients claimed they were unaware later and criticized our team for this look. This happens when a client is not mindful of the design selections. So why is it the fault of the Design Pro when the client comes back with “I didn’t realize it would look like this”. Or worse yet, when the client has guests over and they criticize the look without knowing it was the client himself that opted out for the better look because they did not want to spend money on the better design. Hearing from a client that their neighbor said we should have done X,Y and Z makes me want to sit on the next client taking the cheap way out because I know their disappointment is on the horizon even before they do. But then I might not get the sale if I started sitting on all my potential clients making bad decisions. It’s a fine line!
My Top 5 Mindfulness Techniques when working with a Kitchen & Bath Designer:
- Don’t rush the details. Commit the details to a plan. Give yourself time to understand the plan: the placement of your appliances, cabinets, switches, lighting, storage or whatever is important to you. Mindfulness Technique: Ask yourself what you want.
- Ask questions. Is there anything you are not certain of? What is it made out of, what is the maintenance like, how big is it? I have been know to be the blue tape Queen, mapping out what the new space will look like on the floor for my clients. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the scale of your new kitchen through design drawings, renderings and if possible, actually plotting it out full scale with blue painter’s tape in the existing space.
- Compare the actual design to your vision. Whether it’s a vision committed to memory or a notebook of ideas, ask yourself if the plan drawn up by your Design Pro is jiving with your vision. Designer’s do not have a third eye or psychic ability to read minds although we try. We ask many questions and do our best to get to know you, your style, your family so we can best recommend solutions to fit your lifestyle. Mindfulness Technique: Be truthful with yourself about what you want and communicate that to your design pro.
- Avoid shortcuts. The #1 complaint I hear from people I talk to who have remodeled in the past is they wish didn’t compromise. If it means postponing a project until you can afford what you really want, do it. Use this time to plan and do it right later when you can afford it.
- Test it out. I live in a major metropolitan area where we have access to (Miele, Thermador, Sub Zero & Wolf) live demonstration kitchens. I can send my clients to these showrooms for complete meal demonstrations so they can test out what it’s like cooking on these appliances. Also, check with your local appliance store for more information on when they offer appliance demonstration days.
Above all else…be mindful of your choices. Remodeling is not for the faint of heart and mindfulness in remodeling will calm the body, it will decrease (your designer’s) stress as well as your own, it will cut your anxiety of your decisions, and it will create joyful emotions with the outcome.
And lastly your kitchen designer will thank you!