The Client - Designer Relationship - Part 06 The Client - Designer Relationship - Part 06

In the last couple of installments, we've been discussing how to ask questions of your clients - questions that will get the answers you need to help them and, at the same time, assist the clients in coming to a better understanding of what they really want. Now it's time to get specific about the questions you need to ask.

First, you need to get the names and ages of all the household members, along with the names of any regular household help, and the family pets, if there are any. If Mr. and Mrs. Redford don't seem to be the type of people who want to specify their ages, you don't have to bother with their exact birth dates - an estimate will do. However, for any children in the household, you'll need to know their ages because as they mature their needs will change. Knowing the names of any family help and the household pets will enable you to refer to them by name, which will help put your clients at ease.

Next, you need to get a sense of the activities that take place in the home. In addition to eating and sleeping, what else do the members of the family do on a regular basis? Is there a home office, and if so, who uses it? What about reading, deskwork, television viewing and other home entertainment interests, and musical instruments? If someone plays the trumpet or there's a giant plasma screen television, you need to make plans for those activities.

Where are their computers located in the house? Are they in the right places? Does anyone in the house have a hobby that requires the right activity space? Is there exercise equipment that needs a place? What about games? If either of the Redfords play cards on a regular basis, how should you plan for that pastime? What rooms to these activities currently take place in? Do the Redfords want to make some adjustments?

As you can see, these questions require accurate answers. If the family tries to impress you by stating they play a lot of chess, whereas in actuality Mrs. Redford hosts a boisterous weekly poker game, you're not going to plan the right game area for their home.

What about dining? Is there a dining room? How often does the family eat together for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

You'll find that it's helpful to design a regular format to track this information. Sheffield School students are provided with a Lifestyle Questionnaire form that is designed to arrange this information in a format that will be useful to the designer later in the planning process.

In the next installment, we'll look at the rest of the family activities that you should take into account.

Excerpted from the Lessons "Client Designer Relationship" and "Planning for People" from the Sheffield School Complete Course in Interior Design.

Reprinted with permission from the Sheffield School of Interior Design.

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!