What is the first question you ask your clients even before you begin the design process, and why is it the most important one to ask?
This may not be the very first question asked, but it's definitely an important one: "Do you have a budget?" It is very difficult to meet expectations if we don't have that information upfront. If a client does not have a budget that will cover what he or she wants to have done, we need to have a conversation about how far we can go with the design, whether it might need to be done in stages, or if in reality it isn't something we can do for them. We find that most people will say they don't know what their budget is, when in fact there really is one. This leaves us trying to be mind readers, which doesn't always work very well! We find if we are clear about the need for a budget number, the project moves much more smoothly.
Are there any furniture or décor brands you tend to gravitate to the most when designing a space for a client (perhaps labels that well-represent your personal design aesthetic)? If so, which ones?
Holly Hunt carries furniture, fabric, and lighting lines that fit our aesthetic well. They work with manufacturers who produce both beautifully made traditional and contemporary lines that you can't go wrong with. We also like the custom capabilities of A. Rudin for upholstery. In addition, we always bring in vintage or antique pieces that can give a project that unique collected look client won't typically see elsewhere.