Saturday, June 18, 2011

Death By Committee

What's the quickest way to kill a good idea? Appoint a committee to discuss it.

This post will concentrate on working with your designer or architect or decorator to achieve the very best outcome. And my basic point here is, design-by-committee does not work.

Actually I consider design-by-committee the equivalent of painting by numbers. Does it look like a horse? Of course. Would you hang it in a museum? I hope not.

To execute any vision for a space, and my specialty is kitchens and baths, the reason you hire a professional is you need someone who is the visionary and has the expertise to know what will and won't work. Imagine having your dental work done by committee; the orthodontist has the vision and expertise, yet you check with everyone from the hygienist to the maintenance staff and come back to the doctor with their plan. It's safe to say you would have an interesting-looking grill.

So the first thing you should do is work with the designer, architect or decorator that you trust, and that doesn't necessarily mean their taste has to be your taste. It means they work in a professional realm and they can bring to fruition your design by interpreting your aesthetic. Where the trouble begins is where you don't believe your own criterion of truth and that fear causes you to second-guess the design choices. Most of the time when I encounter a client who wants to design by committee, it has more to do with their fear of making a decision and having to defend it later. Thus begins the journey into Committee Land, where every design aspect is run past a neighbor, a daughter-in-law, a daughter, a great Aunt, a cousin twice removed, someone you met in the grocery store and the yard guy, all who once watched an episode of something on HGTV and therefore, somehow, have more credibility with you than your own design team.

I'm not saying you shouldn't seek counsel, but when seeking that counsel begins to fragment the original design, look and feel, the trust begins to unravel between you and your design professionals. The design becomes convoluted. And 90-percent of the time, people end up with a final product that is very, very similar to what they began with.

So here are my five tips to save yourself from design death-by-committee:

1. Trust the professional. Not only will they help you create something much greater but in most cases will save you money by not allowing you to make mistakes.
2. Don't be swayed by well-meaning people's advice or criticism. Should you seek wise counsel? Yes. Do you always have to follow it? No.
3. Don't be afraid of change. Some people avoid design changes and blame it on not wanting to be "trendy" when, in actuality, anything on the market right now is the trend.
4. Relax and trust yourself. Your kitchen wall color is not a life game-changer; it's a kitchen wall color.
5. Have fun sharing your new designs with the aforementioned people confidently. If they don't like it, it's okay.
6. Never trust a man who wears suspenders and a belt; don't trust a man who doesn't trust his pants.