Long Distance Design – Transforming a Home From Afar

Long Distance Design – Transforming a Home From Afar

Designing a home is an intricate process and it’s one that generally requires a great deal of face time between clients and their designer. Between meeting to discuss direction, review concepts, and select finishes and furnishings, there’s a reason why designers and their clients often walk away from the experience feeling like family!

This young family was moving back to Houston after living in Europe for 7 years. We designed this home with them long distance to be sure that they had a special place to call their own when the wheels touched down in Texas!

Although these meetings are a cherished part of the creative process and they allow us to more deeply connect with our clients and their vision for each space, there are times when getting together on a regular basis is an impossibility. Whether it’s designing a second home in a distant location or transforming a house into a home for a family that will soon be relocating, being able to expertly design from afar has become a welcome and exciting necessity.

Over the years, we’ve learned a great deal about the long distance design experience and we hope the tips we’re sharing today will help both designers and clients develop a process that feels smooth and seamless. Enjoy!

Polish Up Those Listening Skills

Similar to working with a client in person, being an exceptional listener when designing from afar is crucial. When you’re not living in the same city, every minute you spend in conversation with your client is pure gold (and should be treated as such). Be overly prepared, have an agenda for each call that addresses any questions that have cropped up since you last spoke, and listen closely to their responses.

Expert Tip: A solid designer-client relationship is built upon honest and open communication. Be sure you’re listening for the little cues that will tell you whether your client is feeling nervous or uncomfortable with how things are progressing. 

Technology is Your Friend

Marie Flanigan Interiors FaceTime

FaceTime is a valuable way to share design details with our clients who can’t be on site.

If you can’t get real face time with your clients, go for the digital kind. FaceTime has made a significant impact on our ability to communicate with clients from afar and it’s an app we use almost every single day! In addition, we develop all of our design concepts, itemized selection listings (with pricing), and shipping information in digital formats to ensure that a project stays on track and highly organized. In short, all deliverables should remain consistent whether you’re meeting with a designer in person or on the phone.

Become the Perpetual Planner

Calendars and checklists should already be your very close friends, but if they’re not, now’s the time to get acquainted! Set an ultimate install date and work your way back, setting important dates as you go. Then, share that joyful little roadmap with your clients and their architect and builder. Thoughtful planning ensures that all of those special details you’ve spent time perfecting don’t slip through the cracks, and having a solid project timeline makes everyone feel more comfortable.

Expect the Unexpected

Even with the most detailed plans in place, issues and delays will undoubtedly arise. Be sure to adjust your timeline up front to account for delays that may require a team conference call before work can move forward, and the same goes for design development – layouts concepts, and proposed selections will likely take longer to review, return, and revise when they’re being routed via email versus at a table in person.

Expert Tip: Scout out the local area’s best grocery stores, hardware stores, restaurants, and more, along with a running list of their operating hours. From flowers and styling accessories to extension cords and floor protector pads, be sure that you can find all of your install needs in a pinch should the need arise.

Follow Through

The modern world of design makes finding stylish design bar services a breeze, but if a client makes the decision to hire a professional designer, they’re likely on the hunt for turnkey service. Utilize all of the notes we shared above to ensure distance never affects your customer service and treat install day just as you would in a local home. Whether a project is 1 mile or thousands of miles away, our team will be at the door come install day and we don’t leave until every last piece is in its place.

Do you have any tips to share after working on a long distance design project? Comment below!


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