Conversation between journalist Katricia lang and decorator Madeleine Banks:
TRANSFORMING CLIENTS SITTING AREA AND BEDROOM – A QUIET PLACE TO RELAX. DESIGN BY MADELEINE BANKS
Katricia: Imagine I’m a flustered homeowner who wants to remodel but is completely overwhelmed by the process. How would you advice me?
Madeleine: I would recommend this homeowner to contact an interior designer or decorator. When a client first contacts me I make sure I know as much as possible about the client’s project. I need to know the clients wishes for how the space should look like, the clients design taste and budget. I ask a lot of questions and the client will also fill out a questionnaire. I will walk the client through the remodel process, explaining the different steps and answer any questions she might have.
The next step is to measure and photograph the space.
I will then take a few days to make a design plan which I will go through with the client. We can also tweak the plan if necessary. My aim is to give the client
the most beautiful room possible, based on her style mixed with my suggestions and guidance.
I also like to reassure the client by following up on every step during the renovation process. To hire a decorator can be very comforting to an overwhelmed client since we have gone through the process many times.
When choosing the materials the client is with me and I’m guiding her among all the choices available to make sure the choices all work together to make a pleasant design. I can also help by recommending contractors if the client wish and can follow up during the renovation process to make sure all the details are implemented.
I make sure the client is happy by always being available for questions or concerns that might arise plus staying on top of all the steps in the process. The job is not finished before the client is happy with the end result.
A renovation can be stressful and sometimes contractors make mistakes or the timeline is not met. It’s then very comforting for the client to have a decorator that can stay on top of everything to make sure these mistakes don’t happen. With experience, a decorator knows what to watch out for so potential problems does not happen. To be alone during the renovation process, without a decorator helping, can be overwhelming. Another advantage of hiring a decorator is that the client gets a design that is pleasing and all of the elements (colors, shapes, materials, budget) work together. It can be very costly to choose a material that does not work and has to be changed out.
To follow up with the contractor is crucial so everyone is on the same page. During a renovation there are so many details to consider. The cost of hiring a decorator is well worth the fee.
Katricia: Your site says you capture the personality and style of your clients. How do you go about building that relationship?
Madeleine: My aim is to act as a design friend, and expert in all questions about the design and decorating process. I start by really getting to know the client and her style. I learn this by having a conversation where we talk about design, what different styles there are, what she likes about her home and what she
would prefer to change. When talking about design, I figure out the colors she likes, the type of pattern she prefers, type of furniture and so on. When having this conversation and also going through the questionnaire he/she has filled out, the client does not need to come up with answers to every question. I know it can be hard to know exactly what one likes. Often it can be that the client will describe a feeling she would like to achieve but she doesn’t know how to go about achieving it. It’s enough for me to know this and then I can work on designing the room this way. The whole process is a collaboration between me and the client where we take it step by step. But also, she can choose to be as much involved as she likes to be.
Katricia: Why feng Shui? What does it bring to a home?
Madeleine: Firstly; Feng shui is a system of laws considered to govern the spatial arrangement and orientation in relation to the flow of energy and whose favourable/unfavourable effects are taken into consideration when designing.
I use feng shui as a tool to create harmony in a home. It’s a tool that sits naturally in the back of my mind when I design a room.
A client doesn’t really have to be very interested in feng shui, it’s nothing that we necessarily have to choose to incorporate since the steps to think about are really just very natural choices.
I am here talking about only basic feng shui. One can also chose to go in to more complex areas of feng shui.
Some basic areas to consider are:
Decluttering – you should only have things you love in your home. Clutter-clearing is liberating, and carefully only choosing things you love creates good feng shui.
Air and light are important areas to work on. We do this by creating a good lighting-plan where we work with letting as much natural light in as possible, and with artificial lighting placed appropriately and with the right strength and color of bulbs.
Let the air in by open the windows often and use plants for air purification or use an air purifier.
I also work with placement of furniture. One example is, while laying in bed, you want to be able to see the door. It’s all really very natural, since not seeing the door creates a feeling of discomfort because you don’t see who could walk in.
We also consider colors. There are colors that are more suitable for a specific room than others. For example, yellow is a very energizing color and thus suitable for an office.
There are many more examples I can give, but the bottom line is Feng Shui is a natural way to feel good and harmonious in your home. It’s really about creating good energies.
When clients talk about a feeling that they would like the room to have, they might not be able to put in words how exactly they want it, and by using some Feng Shui techniques, we are able to reach that goal.
Katricia: Do you ascribe to any other design philosophies? And if so, how do they coalesce with Feng Shui?
Madeleine: For me, good interior design is really listening to the client’s wishes and at the same time show her how design is evolving. Design doesn’t exist in isolation, it’s a reflection of the larger society. As society changes, so does design. It’s exciting to look at new trends and maybe pick something up there that will make the room new and fresh. Of course, the client is the one ultimately deciding the direction we go, but part of my job is to show her the possibilities that are out there. There might be solutions for her room design that she has not thought of. When you are open to different designs, different solutions and perhaps stretching your comfort zone, that’s’ when really good interior design happens!
Starting at its most basic level, we look at function and form. Both has to exist. There is a saying; “Function over form “, and that’s how I like to start the design process; What is the function of the room we design? We have to start (in our mind) with a blank canvas and add the essential functions needed, before we can go on to adding the form. How much we add of each varies, it depends on the room. For example, a kitchen has a lot of elements of function and perhaps less form, in a living room, it can be the opposite.
The ultimate design direction. That’s where we end up based on a lot of work: getting to know the client and her preferred style, questionnaires, budget, perhaps limitations of the room/home and more. To lay this ground work is very important.
For me, simplicity and order creates harmony. By starting with a blank canvas and carefully add layers of function and form, based on the chosen design direction creates a beautiful result.