I love working with experts – in any field – and do it every chance I get.
But I used to think they had some special ability I didn’t, a magic key that would unlock the answers for me. Ha.
It was a nice little fantasy, and I held onto it for a long time. Whatever the issue in my home or my life, I believed that if I could just find the right person, they would be able to answer all my questions. I wanted them to tell me what would work for me and what would make me happy.
But the truth is experts don’t have those answers. What they have is knowledge and experience.
And while both are valuable, something more is needed if you want to create a home that truly reflects you.
The key is not in what the expert knows, but in knowing yourself and how you live.
Without that, a house might be stunningly beautiful but it will also be generic, more like a showpiece than a home.
No one knows you or your life better than you
You see, an architect or a designer can help you find a great solution to a particular problem – but they can’t know what is going to work best for you and your life.
You’re the expert in that domain. No one else could possibly know what delights you, what you want to do every day, where you want to curl up or how much you love to work in bed.
So anyone else you turn to for help will necessarily be looking at your house through their own likes and dislikes as well as their own experience.
This truth came home to me many times while renovating my current house … and I gave up my fantasy that someone else knew better than me. As a result I had a wonderful, collaborative relationship with the architect. And he was able to give me the best solutions for what I wanted.
So today I wanted to remind you:
You already know what you want
You know what you want from your home, even if you don’t yet realize it.
You know what you do at home – and what frustrates you because you can’t do it. You know what you love – and what you never want to see in your house.
Start there. Get specific about what you want. Don’t sweat it if you feel lost about how to bring it into reality, you can get help with that.
Knowing what you want is different than knowing how to get it. And no expert can ever tell you the what.
So whether you are designing your own space or working with someone else, here’s three things to keep in mind:
No one else knows how you want to live in your house
I love to cook and I love kitchens. But the original kitchen in my house was a horror.
Naturally I put a lot of thought into what I wanted in my new kitchen – and one of those things was a corner banquette in my soon-to-be sunny south window. But my banquette didn’t make it onto the architect’s original plan.
It was a must-have feature for me. So I persisted and, because I could, I found a way to make it work.
Now I spend most of my days working there, enjoying the sun.
It might not be “perfect” but it’s perfect for me.
Now you might not have such a clear vision of what will make a difference for you. But I’ll bet you have an idea or a feeling, however vague.
My kitchen banquette started out as a longing for some place to sit in the kitchen, some place to enjoy the light I was determined to get into the room.
An idea or a feeling is all you need to get started. You can develop it further on your own, or with help. But you need that seed to begin – and only you can be the source of that seed.
No one else knows what delights you
Sure, a designer could create a beautiful scheme for you. But there’s no substitute for finding what delights you.
If you want to love your home, then spend the time to discover things you love to put in it. It takes time, yes, but it’s also what makes a home personal.
Even though I started my renovation with a vision of the bathroom tile I wanted, I ended up going with something different. Because in the end, I found something that sang to me. And I love it.
Sometimes you need help to figure out how to incorporate something you love into your scheme or how to install it or what you need to make it work.
But only you can get obsessed with something that speaks to you.
No one else knows what you can’t stand
On the flip side, there is stuff you don’t ever want in your house.
Everyone has stuff they just can’t abide. I probably have more than my fair share.
Personally, I can’t stand polished countertops, open shelving or glazed cabinets. They might be beautiful. They might be in. They might be the thing to have.
But I don’t want them. And I have fired people who wouldn’t listen to me about such things.
You’re the expert on what you like – and what you don’t.
Hold firm on that, even when someone else loves the idea. They have their own home – this one is yours.
Obviously this is different than not taking advice you’re paying for. This is about saying no when you don’t want to spend all your money on one room, or scrub the kitchen shelves once a month.
Experts can help you find a way to achieve the look you want or how to make things fit. They can confirm that there’s enough room for your window banquette or advise you on tile installation.
But no expert can ever tell you what you love and what you don’t. Nor can they ever tell you what’s going to make your days easier and happier. Because they aren’t you.
Now it’s your turn
What has your experience been getting expert advice? Was it everything you hoped it would be? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Do you want fresh eyes and gentle guidance for your home?
I’m interviewing women just like you about where they feel stuck creating a beautiful + functional home so I can develop my business to give you the support and design guidance you want. In exchange for answering my questions – I’m offering a complimentary Design Vision Consultation. Click here for more info or email me to say you’re in.