Avoid This Mistake When Presenting a Design Project to Your Client

As Interior Designers, one of the first topics we discuss with a new client is COLOR. We want to know what colors they like and what colors they dislike. Most likely, this is one of the questions on your “New Client Questionnaire”.

I had something very interesting happen to me last week. I was presenting a new design concept to a returning client of mine. A few months ago, we completed their terrace level Family Room and Home Theater. We used a color combination of neutrals paired with Navy and Fresh Green and they absolutely loved it. Blue was one of their favorite colors.

We are now working on the main level of their home, the Living Room, Dining Room and Music Room. I already knew this couple loved color and they were very happy with blue and green. The Kitchen walls were painted a great shade of coral and the homeowner wanted to use that as a starting point.

Where would you start with your design direction?

My mind went straight to Navy! I found a gorgeous new introduction from Robert Allen that married Navy and Coral beautifully and it was PERFECT! Or so I thought it was perfect.

This will give you an idea of the direction I was headed.

Dining Room Presentation - The Power Color Combinations

When I pulled out the Navy and Coral fabrics, I could see the expression change on my clients face. I could tell something was wrong. It was as if she was having an allergic reaction to what she was seeing. I had never experienced that before, this was serious!

After a couple deep breaths, she explained that she could NEVER use Blue and Coral Orange together in her home. Not only does she have bad memories of that combination but also she said her family would never step foot in her home again. LONG STORY! Have you ever heard such a thing? I would love to hear your experiences with something like this, please leave me a comment below. What did you do?

Here is what I did…..

I quickly tossed the Navy rug and opted for one that was more neutral. In my bag of tricks (and backups), I had a beautiful Suzanne Kasler fabric for Lee Jofa. It is linen, floral, and GORGEOUS! At first sight, everyone was breathing easy again and everyone was happy, crisis averted!

When I am presenting to a client, my fabrics are always loose and fluid. Pieces can easily be moved around, touched or even omitted. As long as my initial design concept is strong and stays consistent, I do not ever have a problem substituting a fabric or two.

Had I only presented the one original option to my client, the meeting would have been cut short and over very quickly. Thanks to a little planning, a little backup, we are back on track and headed toward another successfully designed home.

And by the way, the other two rooms were a home run. We did not need to change a thing. They even agreed to a new drastic furniture arrangement in the Living Room, which will completely transform the flow and feel of their home. And wait until you see the Music Room, they are over the moon with excitement.


This is just another example of how we as designers are NOT perfect and we do not always get it right the first time. Great design is a process and one that is always evolving and changing and you have to be willing to go with the flow.

We sure can learn from each other’s trials as well as tribulations. Do not be afraid to share the bad with the good and make learning a lifetime labor of love! Here is to my next lesson in design and yours too!




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  1. Kristie Barnett, TheDecorologist on June 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm Reply

    It’s so interesting how color can be related to lots of positive AND negative memories and have all kinds of interesting associations. One color does not fit all, right? 🙂

  2. Lisa@TheDecorGirl on June 14, 2013 at 9:16 am Reply

    Yes, I’ve encountered this before. People have strong emotional reactions to certain colors. As designers it is hard to predict. Some associate coral with old ladies from their childhood, or they don’t like orange food or other references they can’t put their finger on. Colors are emotional and regardless of how fabulous one might think something looks another might have a gag reflex. Color is like food, you can’t talk someone into liking what they don’t have a taste for. Great post.

  3. Connie Nikiforoff Designs on June 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm Reply

    Decor Girl said what I was going to say too! Color is so integral to our beings that color therapy can have as much affect on us as music therapy. As a musician and a decorator I’m versed in using both 🙂 And for some reason, I cannot get on board with these rooms I see that look like they’ve been poured out of a can of Crayola crayons! Tooo much color! I’ve encountered are people who say they like tons of color in their homes, are also the ones who are saying “I’m just so tired all the time!” or “I wish I could slow down my life.” Hmmmmmm…..wonder if too much saturated color = irritation? Something to think about. 😉

  4. Connie Nikiforoff Designs on June 20, 2013 at 7:33 pm Reply

    Oh….Aside from my “hit send before you completely re-read your own comment” sentence error in my first comment (arrgggh! haha!) I’d like to add, there those who probably could use more color in their life to enliven their tired state of being. Like Kristie said, “One color does not fit all.” 🙂

  5. Laurie Laizure on July 30, 2013 at 1:58 pm Reply

    Looks like you were saved with quick thinking and being really prepared. Great work, Jennifer!

  6. Mallory Shaw Design on August 1, 2013 at 11:00 am Reply

    Let me guess….the blue and “orange” is a rival football team…clemson? florida? I have also run into this…and even in my own home where people are “shocked” I would use orange, when I thought nothing about it! You know you live in the south when….

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© 2014 Jennifer Reynolds Interiors ~ Jennifer@JenniferReynoldsInteriors.com | (678) 316-0113
Interior Designer, Interior Decorator in Georgia | Full Service Interior Design and Decorating in the Atlanta Metro Area, Alpharetta, Roswell, and Cumming including Flowery Branch, Gainesville and Lake Lanier | Jennifer Reynolds Interiors delivers exceptional service with a boutique approach.

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