Tips and Guides

Building 101: 10 Do's and Don'ts in a Designer-Client Relationship

Interior designer Frenjick Quesada reveals how you can have a stress-free design process


Congratulations! You have found the right interior designer for your home. You are eager to get the ball rolling and dive into discussing design details that you dream about. But before that kick-off meeting, always keep in mind that a good client-designer relationship is key to the project's success.

A design professional brings the trained creative eye, technical know-how, experience, and supply network to the table. On the other hand, you, as the client, set the important parameters and direction towards which he or she should work. Knowing your roles and creating the right atmosphere will work wonders.  Here are ten things to remember for a great client-designer work process to produce your dream interior.

Read the original article in the November 2008 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details.  


As in any relationship, constant feedback, listening, and trusting each other paves the way to great synergy. Think of the project as a collaboration where the first few meetings will be focused on getting to know each other. As you interact more, you will start feeling more comfortable. Make that extra effort to start things right and ignite a productive chemistry between you. Lay the groundwork for mutual trust, respect, and professionalism from day one.

Tell the designer about yourself: your hobbies, your family, your work, quirks you may have, things you love or hate, how you spend your day when at home. In turn, get to know the designer, too. Ask about his or her favorite projects. Getting to know each other better will lead to better communication and, ultimately, to a satisfying design that truly reflects who you are.


So you want the project done in time for your  fabulous birthday bash? Then plan your house ahead, too. Meetings between you and the designer are vital to keep things moving at the right pace. Decisions are sometimes delayed not because of a lack of information or indecisiveness, but rather because of a lack of a common time to discuss and decide. Setting these meetings in advance at proper, regular intervals (usually weekly meetings are ideal) allows both parties to adjust their schedules.


Briefing your designer using descriptive words like "modern, soothing, casual" is a good starting point. But don't stop there; collect pictures from magazines, material swatches or samples, and other visual and tactile references. Show what you like and what you don't like, as design is subjective and words can mean different things to different people. Do your homework, and provide your designer with concrete visual and tangible references.


As a client, it is important for you to make your priorities known. Decisions made together with your interior designer will be crucial to managing your project well. Make it easier by thinking through your priorities and sharing them with your designer. Maybe there are rooms that are more special than the others? Some furniture pieces might be heavily used? Or perhaps you want to spend more money on specific rooms or items.

Identify what matters to you most because these are the guidelines the designer needs to know.


Everyone wants to get a certain look at a target cost. To stay within the budget, a common mistake is to scrimp across all items compromising the design. Your designer will be happy to help you with spending your money wisely. He or she knows where you can get away with lower-priced items and where it really counts and you wouldn't want to downgrade.


Clients need ample time to weigh and think through the options presented to them. Designers, on the other hand, need breathing room to explore the design possibilities of the space. Rushed decisions and designs usually end up in regret, costly reworking, and disappointments. To avoid this, provide for sufficient pondering time or an "I'll think about it" buffer in your schedule. This is especially important for costly decisions in the design.


Sometimes your spouse or housemates have a say on the project. Imagine different people separately telling your designer conflicting inputs. In such cases, it would be good if you appoint one person to communicate all concerns to the designer. This prevents confusion in decisions and direction given from clients to designer.


Curb your shopping itch for buying things for an ongoing project. You may have discussed with your designer that you would like to be the one to buy certain pieces. Relax, all in due time. While a designer can work around existing items you have, having a blank canvas allows more creativity. Wait for the design planning stage to finish before setting out to buy items. Your designer will have some helpful tips to guide your shopping expedition (proper color, size, function etc.) if you must satisfy that urge alone. Better yet, set a meeting in advance to shop with him or her, especially for key items.


There are a number of facets to designing a space:  function, aesthetics, cost, and schedule. Your design professional is trained to zoom out to see the big picture and balance all these. So when you have something to discuss with your designer, consider his overall view of things rather than dwelling on a detail independently. An exciting idea might strike you, seemingly a clever solution for a problem at hand. But when weighed in relation to other considerations, it may fizzle out. Your designer provides you with this invaluable insight. Keep an open mind.


A lighthearted atmosphere always makes tasks easier. If you have a long checklist of items to get done over a period of time, spread it out or mix in the ones you enjoy. These tasks will cheer you up. Making decisions when you are not in a good mood might cloud your judgment. It's your dream space in progress! It happens only every so often, so might as well have fun creating it.


Latest Stories

5 Secrets Of A Functional Kitchen

Are you dreaming of having the most efficient scullery? These tips might just do the trick.

11 Peg-Worthy Celebrity Christmas Trees

From showcasing dainty blooms to using quirky ornaments, these personalities have taken the decorating game to the next level

This Quiapo Day Tour Will Make You Love Old Manila Again

Go on a DIY Quiapo adventure and look beyond the vendors. Say a prayer, have your fortune told, take a peek at a mysterious pagoda, and visit beautiful ancestral houses from a more genteel past.

10 Ways To Make Your Shoes Last Forever

Show your favorite pairs some tender loving care with these tips

A One-Bedroom Unit Transformed into a Two-Bedroom Home

The designers of this 45sqm condo in Manila created a functional space with an urban contemporary appeal that’s perfect for its young occupants

Here's Why You Should Skip Bringing Your Phone To The Bathroom

Trust us, liking that photo on Instagram can wait for a few minutes

7 Planners For An Inspired 2018

Stay organized and keep your goals in sight with these picks

These Christmas Ornaments Will Make You Feel Like Dancing

Celebrate a yearly Christmas ballet tradition with The Nutcracker collection

15 Calming Photos of Modern Minimalist Homes

Because less is more

10 Life-Changing Cleaning Habits For Lazy People

We've got the strategies for keeping an impeccably clean house without losing your mind

Did You Know That Ellen Adarna Lives in a 1930s Apartment in Manila?

She has a fantastic view of the Manila Bay sunset, too

Neat Home Appliances You Need To Buy With Your 13th Month Bonus

It's okay to treat yourself with the best things money can buy—especially if it is for your humble abode
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!