Designers are always looking for ways to enhance the value of their services in the eyes of consumers and provide additional incentive to hire them. A recent consumer study suggests designers may be overlooking a potential selling point: saving a relationship.
According to Houzz’s “Remodeling and Relationships” survey, couples frequently experience a strain on their relationship during a remodeling or design project and would benefit from having someone mediate their different likes and dislikes. It’s a role designers often find themselves in, but not one they promote as part of their package of services.
Granted, designers want to design, not referee marital spats. They wind up playing “marriage counselor” out of necessity, not because they enjoy meddling in their clients’ personal lives.
When couples’ tastes clash, however, they may have difficulty resolving their differences. That’s when they turn to a designer to provide expert, objective advice.
Take the case of the Johnsons, who in an article for Realtor.com admitted the process of building their dream home nearly ruined their marriage. Terence, a pastor, and his wife Torsha have been married for 20 years, and even run a relationship survival seminar together. Nonetheless, they battled over almost every decision.
Finally, recognizing their marriage was more important than their decorative disagreements, they decided to hire an interior designer and let the designer call the shots.
The Johnsons’ experience is extreme but not uncommon. In the Houzz survey, 7 percent of respondents said they thought they needed couples counseling to get them through their remodeling project, and another 7 percent asked, “How did I end up with this person?” One in 20 (5 percent) considered a breakup or divorce during the process.
Who’s at fault? It’s hard to say. According to Houzz, women are three times more likely to “dig in their heels” when it comes to style. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to “agree to disagree” but assert their influence in more subtle ways, through comments and body language.
Couples and designers agree that willingness to compromise produces the best result in the end, both for the design and the relationship. Nearly half the respondents to the Houzz survey offered that advice to couples starting a remodeling project together. It also helps if couples can agree on the look they want and the size of the budget before they make any specific decisions.
When Kitchen + Bath Business asked its network of designers what advice they would offer to designers dealing with a couple with differing tastes, the answers were about the same: look for common ground, try to strike a balance so that each partner gets something they want, remain neutral and ask them to talk about their preferences without judgment or blame.
Designers can provide a real service to couples by helping them navigate the tumultuous waters of a new home design or remodel. They have a perspective and discerning eye that clients often lack. Of course, depending on the couple, it can be stressful on the designer as well.
The key is to maintain your role as design professional. Stick to providing design advice and leave the couples therapy to someone else.
About the Author
Michael J. Berens is a freelance researcher and writer with more than 30 years of experience in association communication and management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was provided by Multibriefs.