6 Steps to Help Clients Understand Their Style

by Jason Walsh and Patrick Ege, Masonite

ed3_1Homeowners and home buyers are blessed with seemingly endless options across numerous product categories. But amid all those choices, many find themselves overwhelmed, unable to narrow down home designs and styling to meet a specific focus.

Remodelers can take this as an opportunity to guide clients in understanding what their style is and how to incorporate it into their homes, cohesively. Follow these six tips to gain an understanding of your client’s style—and how to guide their design choices to meet it.

  1. Browse, browse, browse.
    Direct your client to peruse décor websites and style magazines. Window shop. Take note of features in other homes that they like. This will give them an idea of what grabs their attention. Once you’ve noticed a common theme, guide them to specifically search those designs. Exposure gives the greatest ability to understand their style.
  1. Draw inspiration from their favorite things.
    Have your clients compile all the possessions they treasure. These can be picture frames, books, trinkets, clothes, fabrics, etc. Anything from large to small, but everything must be important to them. Then study them as a collective and ask your client what drew them to each item. This can further help determine what common themes appeal to your client.
  1. Remind clients: Don’t feel constrained by design rules.
    Remind them it’s their house, and it’s OK for them to express themselves even if it doesn’t fit into a specific style definition. It’s not a science; have fun with it.
  1. Blend carefully.
    Still, even though no one should be constrained to rules, do tell your client that some styles work well together while others don’t. “Farmhouse modern” is an example of two styles that can coexist. Also known as “transitionally modern,” it mixes the old with the new; it’s a rejection of the seriousness and starkness of modern while appreciating modern’s simplified features.

Craftsman and Victorian, on the other hand, are two styles that don’t mesh. Developed around the Industrial Revolution, Victorian was a creation of very ornate and decorative styling. Craftsman is a rejection of that philosophy; therefore, mixing the two would create a confused style.

  1. Consider making changes in specific areas such as doors.
    Simply changing the door can significantly enhance a home’s design and even shift its overall feel.

Exterior and interior doors offer different opportunities, however. Complement the home’s architectural style by choosing an exterior door that falls into that style. For example, if the house features Georgian/Federalist architecture, choose a paneled door to complement the home.

There is much more freedom on interior doors because you aren’t constrained by curb appeal and resale value issues. Your clients may likely feel more comfortable doing something different on the inside. For example, that same Georgian home might have modern interior doors throughout the house.

Express your client’s style by painting the doors—exterior and interior, or choosing a specific decorative glass. From ornate to modern, decorative glass can add to the style of a front entry. For example, Masonite’s Tanglewood glass creates an elegant and ornate appearance, and the Masonite Optimus features clean, sharp lines.

Consider changing out an interior molded panel door with a barn door to make your specific style stand out. Pick between modern or rustic hardware to complement your barn door to take it a step further.

  1. Go neutral for large items, trendy for accessories.
    Playing it a little safer for large items, such as furniture and appliances, prevents these more expensive wares from going out of date quickly. You can still stay with the times through smaller, more affordable objects. For example, accommodate the hot trend of eclectic design by adding bold, mix-and-match accessories with relatively low cost and risk. Invest in major items that suit your client’s tastes and build around that with accessories.

Terms like contemporary, traditional, and the like are the foundations from which to play. Once your client understands what those foundations are, they can have fun with design. Remember, if they really like it, then have at it—there are no rules.

Have other tips for understanding what your client’s style is? Share in the comments!


About the authors: Jason Walsh is  senior industrial designer and Patrick Ege is lead industrial designer for Masonite, a NARI National Member. Throughout the company’s 80 year history, Masonite has maintained its focus on leading-edge innovation, manufacturing excellence and superior customer service. For more information, visit http://www.masonite.com

One thought on “6 Steps to Help Clients Understand Their Style

  1. Great article! I believe it is part of a remodeler’s job to educate their customers on style before beginning a project. The average consumer doesn’t know much when it comes to exterior and interior home design, so educating them on the subject and allowing them to choose their own style will increase the chances of their satisfaction with the end result.

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