How to become a successful interior decorator with Jane Lockhart

Design Tips, From the Experts

Ask Me Anything: Jane Lockhart

Jane Lockhart is an award-winning interior designer, popular television personality, author and spokesperson. Her career is an inspiration to all home designers and she has continued success with her well-known brand, Jane Lockhart Interior Design.

This past November, Jane spent time answering your questions about the home design industry and what it’s like to have a career in interior decorating. Here’s a roundup of Jane’s best advice!

Q: I love black and white. How can I incorporate it into a design? Your black and white bedroom was awesome!

A: Start with black accents and paint your walls white, or consider an accent wall in black. Remember, contrast makes a room look smaller so think about how much of each color you want in the room.

Q: What do you think about hard wood floors in a kitchen? Our living room/dining room/kitchen is going to be all open concept and I’d like hardwood for the rest but I’m not sure how it will hold up.

A: It doesn’t always hold up, but it will definitely do reasonably well if you’re careful with it. It will never perform as well as a tile; however, it will give you a continuous look.

Jane Lockhart on how to design a kitchen interior with hardwood floors

Q: How do you approach a client who is not satisfied with the final outcome of the project? From a professional standpoint, how should you handle this situation?

A: This is a difficult situation and you have to assess whether the client is truly unhappy and you just didn’t deliver on their expectations — or if the client is looking for some kind of discount and being unhappy is their way of convincing you to lower the price. Be honest, ask direct questions, take the criticism if it’s warranted and find out what will make the client happy.

Q: What is the most important thing(s) to focus on when just starting our new businesses in design?

A: Doing a good job and completing the job fully so you can learn from it! And getting a referral is also a major key to success.

Q: If you were to pick one book that every designer should have in their library what would that be?

A: That’s a hard one. If you do architectural design I’d say DK Ching’s Architecture: Form, Space and Order. Travels Through the Paintbox by Victoria Findlay is a great book on the history of color and Home: A Short History of an Idea by Witold Rybcyzynski is an excellent book, too. An old classic is The Hidden Dimension by Edward Hall which looks at spaces that work from an anthropological viewpoint. Yes, I’m a nerd and I can’t pick just one book!

Learn how to be a home designer and interior decorator with paint color schemes

Q: How does a brand new designer find a quality, reputable contractor to build the designs for clients?

A: My entire career has been searching for the right people. I recommend starting with a few contractors that are referred to you by other designers. Give them a trial, monitor them very closely and if they turn out to be good, they become part of the roster. If they’re no good, don’t hire them again. We are constantly trying out new contractors!

Q: Some professionals charge an hourly rate and others charge a flat fee. Also, some charge a mileage fee in addition to the former two for travelling to a potential client’s home. What are your views on this?

A: I don’t charge a mileage fee – it’s the cost of doing business. Some jobs we quote by the hour and others a flat fee. It depends on what the client prefers!

Q: I am just starting out in the business! What is the right dollar amount to charge potential clients for services?

A: This is a hard question to answer because it has a lot to do with the market in which you’re working and the services you’re offering. If it’s Color Consulting, check to see what other local designers are offering and the price they’re charging. There’s nothing wrong with increasing your price over time with more experience!

Want to learn more about interior decorating? Take a look at our online courses and launch your career as a design professional.

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