Celia Cleary, of Los Angeles–based Cleary Feder Interior Design, creates beautiful homes for clients from coast to coast. Here, Cleary shares her golden rules for a positive designer/client relationship.
1. Listen. "My first interview with a client is a chance to understand what they like and what they dislike. You may have to alter your vision the more you listen."
2. Start with color. "That's often my jumping-off point. We choose background colors first. Then move on to pattern."
3. Custom work is worth it. "If you can’t find what you need, work with someone you trust so that you have precisely the right couch or chair."
4. Focus on light. "I don't like to rely on overhead lighting. I generally dislike it in a room, other than for paintings. I prefer using task lights or floor lamps to help create a mood. Lamps aren't just for reading -- they also help set the stage."
5. Remember that design is a process. "You start with an architect who has specific concerns. Then you face millions of your own choices, which are exciting. Then you narrow everything down. If you're not willing to compromise, it's not going to work."