Ask Vicente: The Initial Consult

Name: Andrea V.
Comment:

Hi Vicente-

After stalking your blog fanatically for the past few weeks, I thought of something to ask you.

What types of questions do you ask your clients in the initial consult? Do you find that it’s difficult for the client to articulate what it is that they are seeking within the interior? If so, what are some methods to navigate the forensics and psychology of building a concept that incorporates both your and the clients vision?

I recently had the misfortune of a client not liking what I pulled together. Which really struck me as odd (and made me kinda want to crawl in a hole, too), because he loved it during the presentation and from my point of view, it was a concept that pulled the whole house together. The whole home lacked cohesion and I absolutely tried my best to give it a better sense of calm and flow (which is what he told me that he wanted, but I digress). It was a really strange situation, but it made me second guess my interviewing skills. So much that I figured I must have not done enough due diligence during the consultation phase. Maybe that’s not what happened and he ultimately didn’t want to spend the money. I’ll never know. But I’d like to gain more insight on how to go about getting the client to build an honest rapport and spill the beans about what they desire and of course, what they want to spend! (Always the hardest part!)

Thank you for having this feature on the blog. I think that your humble nature is incredibly inspiring and I love the open dialogue feeling that you have created in this little corner of the internet 🙂 Keep up the great work!

Andrea V.

Vicente Responds:

Hi Andrea –

I don’t ask them for specifics of what they want that room to be, I ask them what is the emotion that they want the room to have. If you ask for specifics, they are going to tell you they want this chair and that sofa and that is not what you want. Here’s my list of questions – feel free to use this as a base and adapt it as you see fit.

GENERAL

  • What colors do you like?
  • Are there particular colors you dislike?
  • Do you like textures?
  • Do you like stone?
  • Are there certain metals you like?
  • Antique pieces?
  • Do you have any allergies or back problems?

FABRICS

  • Silk, wool, cotton, linen?
  • Rough, smooth?
  • Stripes?
  • Leather

LIVING ROOM

  • Entertaining
  • How many people would you like to seat?
  • Do you like deep seating?
  • Do you like loose cushions?
  • Tight cushions?
  • Slipcovers?
  • Area Rug?
  • Window treatment?
  • Floor treatment – stone, wood?
  • Table surfaces?  Large, small?
  • Colors?

DINING ROOM

  • How many people would you like to seat?
  • Do you like service in the dining room (side table, etc) or service from another room?
  • Area Rug?
  • Window treatment
  • Floor treatment
  • Colors

KITCHEN

  • Entertaining
  • How many people would you like to seat?
  • Appliances?
  • Window treatment?
  • Floor treatment?
  • Colors

MASTER BEDROOM

  • What size bed do you like?
  • Would like you like book storage?
  • Lounge chairs?
  • Wall to wall carpet?
  • Area Rug?
  • Window treatment?
  • Floor treatment – stone, wood, etc.
  • Table surfaces?  Large, small?
  • Colors
  • Special Lighting

FAMILY ROOM

  • Entertaining
  • How many people would you like to seat?
  • Do you like deep seating?
  • Do you like loose cushions?
  • Tight cushions?
  • Slipcovers?
  • Area Rug?
  • Window treatment?
  • Floor treatment – stone, wood?
  • Table surfaces?  Large, small?
  • Colors?
  • Office Equipment

BREAKFAST ROOM

  • How many people would you like to seat?
  • Window treatment?
  • Floor Treatment?
  • Colors
  • Lighting

GUEST BEDROOM #1 & #2

  • What size bed do you like?
  • Would like you like book storage?
  • Lounge chairs?
  • Wall to wall carpet?
  • Area Rug?
  • Window treatment?
  • Floor treatment – stone, wood, etc.
  • Table surfaces?  Large, small?
  • Colors
  • Special Lighting

Go through the same questions for the Entry, the Office, Kids’ Rooms, Powder Rooms and Bathrooms or other rooms that are not accounted for here.

13 comments


  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JM in DC, Vicente Wolf. Vicente Wolf said: Want access to the questionnaire I discuss with new clients before I start designing? Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/ygz36sg […]

    October 21, 2009
  • Thanks so much for this questionaire! I found it so helpful since I am currently updating our own inital consultation questionaire.

    October 21, 2009
  • This is great!
    I’m printing it out for reference!
    Thanks!
    Will you do me a favor and vote for me today?
    You have until midnight. It’s silly, but I really want to win the trip to New York 🙂
    xo xo

    http://contests.apartmenttherapy.com/2009/color/main/faceoff/50

    October 21, 2009
  • Thanks so much for all the help you give the designer. It is comforting to know we all have the same problems, just on a different scale. Your work and information is an inspiration!

    October 21, 2009
  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by vicentewolf: Want access to the questionnaire I discuss with new clients before I start designing? Here it is: http://tinyurl.com/ygz36sg

    October 22, 2009
  • WOW! Thank you!!!!!!

    I love that you break it down to the “emotion” of the room. How clever. What a great way to build upon something that not only fully engages the client in the process but is ultimately a true reflection of their personalities (which is obviously always the goal). I will absolutely take all of this and incorporate it into my programming phase!

    I had assumed that since I submitted this days before the Skirted Roundtable interview and within that interview you answered the same questions, that was it! You and your staff are such kind individuals to take the time to answer this is such an in-depth manner. I know that you have not only helped me tremendously, but countless others as well. Thank you for being such a strong leader within our design community. A true professional.

    I hope that you are feeling well, I have been having you on my mind and wishing you a speedy recovery!

    Thanks again,

    Andrea V.

    October 22, 2009
  • […] Whenever we sit down with a client for an intial consultation we tend to move quickly into a programming session as a means of getting to know that client.  It helps us understand, not only the likes and dislikes of our client, but also to begin to understand what type of shape and form the project will take.  We all tend to have our own process and format for programming.  I just read a recent post by Vicente Wolf, the designer of my Currently Inspired By image, and I thought that he provides a good outline for the types of questions that are beneficial to ask a new residential client.  Take a look here. […]

    October 22, 2009
  • Thanks Vicente for your list, very thorough. I hope you are recovering nicely. Have a good night.

    October 25, 2009
  • I saw and heard you in San Francisco and Las Vegas, this fall. Your philosophy is just what I aspire to put into action as soon as possible. Breaking down a client’s wishes, question by question, and room by room is just what is needed. I’ve copied your format and will use it in it’s entirety. Please, don’t concern yourself with your interviewing skills, they are thorough and honest. Thanks for being so generous. I’m reading your books over again and look forward to your next one. jackie c
    , .

    October 31, 2009
  • Thank you for your generous, informational and inspiring blog. Your posts about business practices and design processes are very helpful…you are like the mentor I never had. 🙂 Keep up the amazing design work. Cheers!

    November 03, 2009
  • Hi Vincente
    Writing from Canada – It is very refreshing to find a designer that is open and willing to share their experience and what makes him successful. I still have a lot to learn, and I am doing so by coming to your website and listening to what you have to say.
    Cheers,
    Roxana

    November 15, 2009
  • I also like to find out about any kids and pets that may be using the space, too.

    March 23, 2010
  • I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this site.

    I am hoping to see the same high-grade content from you later on as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own blog now 😉

    October 16, 2014

Leave a comment


Name*

Email(will not be published)*

Website

Your comment*

Submit Comment

Copyright © 2013. All Rights Reserved.Vicente Wolf Associates, Inc.