5 Best Secret Client Design Tips Ever

5 best techniques to build and fortify trust with your design clients.   How do you get the best clients and get them to genuinely trust you?  Having a strong bond and trust with your design clients makes all of the difference in who gets to drive a project.  It makes the biggest difference in how the project looks and how you work together.  The best thing to do is to build trust.  Build is a verb. There is a systematic technique that facilitates a bond of trust. You listen, you know your stuff, and you get them.

I am officially done with having a career in Interior Design. It’s OVA for me. I did 20 yrs of Interior Design.

Girl in glasses holding rolls of wallpaper

Design Appy for the designer on the go, getting the best clients, who want them to help them through the design process.

Before I go.

Let me equip you with a few gigantic tips to help your clients.

From the archive of when clients wove themselves into the fiber of your design and you empowered them to trust you endlessly.

  • 1. This helps for the “I don’t know what I want.
      • So pull out your hippy-dippy vibe, rose glasses, incense, and crystal collection, and let’s talk about your house. (Yessss… it’s a visualization exercise and you could do a real one with your clients depending on your practice.).
      •  This is not spoken in that weird visualization tone. I don’t announce it. I ask them to talk to me about it.
      • It will pull them out of where they are (basically crazy) for a sec and THINK about it.

“If you were to close your eyes and imagine the one space in the world you want to go…. be in and wake up every day. (pause…………….)

        • Where would it be? 
        • What does it feel like?
        • What do you want it to be?
        • What kind of light?
        • What type of environment?
        • What materials are around you etc.
        • What type of smells….  

WHAT YOU LEARN: You will typically get a hotel somewhere and you can google it. They obviously don’t want the big flower arrangement, reception desk feel- they want to capture that level of luxury. This gets you to someone’s dream home FEEL the fastest- you can even give them a candle from the hotel as house warming gift.- so make NOTE*****

Build your client’s trust by asking the right questions, to really understand them.

    • The frantic client thought…“It’s impossible to make a decision? there are so many choices? “
      • Empower the client to believe they are capable of making good decisions regularly.
      • One of their decisions is also a brilliant one. Making you (the designer) a good decision.
      • If we were going to go into your closet and pick out something to wear?   You have been to so many stores and you have been dressing yourself for many years.  You know what types of colors texture and qualities that make you feel happy.   You see them every day in few items you always wear.  Those items you can’t wait to put on. 
      • We use those same skills to design your house.
      • Demonstrate it for them_ See you are dressed so well today and I love those _ earrings, handbag shoes..
      • I want to design a house that has lighting like jewelry and floors that are like___ your favorite jeans and I want it to envelope you and your family.-etc.
      • This builds trust.

WHAT YOU LEARN:  this shows you if they like pattern, if they want texture color how trendy they are.—etc. pull from their clothes the questions on what they like need and want. People advertise their personal style.


colored pastels

Design clients have a level of comfort on spending and value. They also have brands that they trust.


  • 3. Seriously consider doing an inventory for your client of their favorite things.
    • “Dress their house as they would dress themselves and they will find themselves very happy.- ALWAYS.” 


        • I commission art pieces and typically I can tell by their clothes what they want on their walls.  I’ve even done this talk to the homeowner of another designer.
        • The homeowner ran up to me at the designers meeting and mentioned she reviewed her favorite clothes again and was even more confident about her decision.
        • Jack-hole client once told me he didn’t like color. But he was dressed in charcoal and black most times I saw him.  Once I mentioned a color for his office and he immediately said NO.  I simply followed it up with but you look good in that color why wouldn’t you want to present yourself in that color in your home?

WHAT YOU LEARN:  Maybe it’s a metaphor that speaks to your client or just the familiarity that allows them to relax.


  • 4.  90/ 10 rule applies for them as well, 90% of what is available does not fit in the budget or their style-
        • there is a lot of bad out there. 
        • Use Walmart as an example and they will avoid whatever you reference in that context.  Oh, it’s sort of like that Walmart _______________ made in china mass-produced, not going to last long, etc.- warning this is burned into them and you can’t ever go back from a Walmart reference. ever ….Ikea sometimes creates the same short term purchase vibe.
        • You can also use a nicer department store to align the items they are considering with a value level and quality quickly.

WHAT YOU LEARN:  People need to compare items to understand the value.  Understanding the client’s individual expectation of value and best expectation is important. Some people want to save money and others don’t want to skimp.   But if there is no place to measure the value they won’t spend their money. They will also price shop to find that value comparison.

Magnifying glass and envelopeswritten top secret

Trust your client with a secret


  • 5.  Give them their rules for their home.   
        • Weaning off a client is real.   There is a point where they need to go.
        • Solidify the client by teaching and educating them on how to make their home look nice.
        • This is also a great gift to keep your clients home looking nice for when they proceed into the hoarder stage.
        • Make sure it does not overwhelm them with instructions that make them want to latch on forever- make sure you fine-tune it for them.
        • This is the thing…. They can now judge other people.
            • They are in the design “know”  because they have custom-designed house rules to follow.

WHAT YOU EARN: They share “the secret rules” with friends and it creates a conversation for your soon-to-be clients that are inadvertently being referred to you. 🙂

See the blog post for house rules

  1. Sarah says:

    These are such great tips!

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