I’m sure you’ve seen the funny articles about unfortunate online “shopping fails”. The full-sized rug that turns out to be an Oriental-pattern mouse pad. Or perhaps the adult denim jeans that arrive only for you to find out they they’re only suitable for a Barbie. While these are humorous examples, I think it’s safe to say that expectations not meeting reality is a real problem in the design world. Since we understand the importance of delivering what we’ve promised our clients, we take several steps to make that happen. By identifying our client’s expectations, teaming with the right people and sticking to the plan, we create projects that match our intent and leave everybody happy.

Identifying your client’s needs and expectations is part one of creating a successful outcome. It’s rare to have a client equally well-versed in design, construction and material selections. We take our professional knowledge for granted and we don’t always recognize their lack of understanding for what it is. That’s the place where we can make a fatal error: we assume that we’re on the same page with our client! In addition to continued communication, education and refining our protocols, we rely heavily on visual graphics to solve this problem. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words rings true in our industry. Using 3d images, 3d video fly-through animation and 3d models keep our project on track and put the client and the designer on the same page. We never skip this step and utilize as many visualization tools as possible to bring clarity to the design process. The images that we create in the final stages of design function as “home base”. As construction progresses and questions arise, we can always come back to our original intent as seen in our 3d visuals. These images are invaluable for pairing expectations with the final outcome.

In addition to being on the same page with clients, we wholeheartedly believe in teaming with like-minded people.  In the same way that we need to be on the same page with our clients, it’s a must to be on the same page as our team!  I speak from first-hand experience. In one instance, a beautiful pool and spa design crashed and burned when an interior designer replaced our exterior-suitable material recommendations with tile that could be seen in an outdated kitchen.  We were so disappointed by the changes that we chose to pass on photographing this project for our portfolio.  In another instance, our pool design was hijacked by the pool builder who, on his own accord, chose to use a different waterline tile and added a fountain in the entry reef because he “thought it would be cool.”  While these stories were stressful at the time, we count them as learning moments.  They taught us to work with like-minded individuals so together, we can implement a cohesive design in line with our original intent.

When the client and the team are on the same page, the only thing still required is to stick to the plan. Inevitably, the client sees a new image on Houzz and wants to introduce a new tile on a small area of the reef. And a fire feature. And an extra water feature on the other side of the pool. My point is that these small changes add up to a piece-meal design very quickly! We rely on the homeowner for direction but avoiding anxious, impulsive decisions mid-construction is important for creating a final product that’s in line with their original expectations. Reminding clients of the initial vision by referencing 3d images keep us from deviating off-course. In our Midcentury Linear Expression project, our client became concerned by the scale of the fireplace. She was understandably overwhelmed at the scale of the fireplace—without the installed pergola to balance the area, all she could see was gray concrete. We reminded her of the original vision and all the materials that we still needed to install. Our reassurance and experience helped our client stay the course until the project could become real.


Kurt Kraisinger, PLA, SWD, LEEDAP