One of the questions I get asked most often is something along the lines of, “So, do you flip houses or do you design other people's houses?” The answer is yes. :) I do both!
While flipping ultimately led me into the design world, I now do both. While they are very similar in a lot of ways, they also have some pretty stark differences.
Budget is hands-down the biggest consideration I have when flipping a house. The whole point of flipping houses is to make a profit, and keeping the bottom line in mind throughout helps ensure ultimate success. On the flip side (no pun intended), private design jobs come in all shapes, sizes, and budgets.
For flips, we insist on creating beautiful, stylish homes within our limited budget. We don’t go all out, but we rarely pick the cheapest materials, and we work tirelessly to pick design choices that look like they cost twice as much.
And still, there are MANY times in a flip that I wish I could do so much more (take out another wall, add more landscaping, build a cooler fence, buy even better lights, etc.), but at the end of the day, I have to remind myself that it is a flip, we have to make a profit, and the future homeowners may like having the chance to put their own touch on elements of the house.
Clients are the most significant difference between a flip and private design job. For a flip, you could argue that I am both the designer and the client (staying within budget, working within a specific style, etc.).
In private design jobs, it is the client that leads the way in terms of style and budget. While I come up with the initial design, it isn’t done in a vacuum. I listen to the client’s wish list, how they use the space (or hope to use the space), and what their style is. After an initial design draft, we then work together to hone in on the perfect choices to get a room or home to where they dream it could be. The back-and-forth process is where I really feel the difference between when I am designing for a flip vs. designing for a client.
It’s also really fun to see how clients incorporate their own belongings into the space and their excitement when it is finished and ready to use. That’s quite different than a flip where you never really see the new owner enjoying the space.
The fun part about flips is that I get to play with different styles and themes in each house and get to take fun risks, at times, because there’s no one to tell me not to. (My husband sometimes convinces me to tone something down for the sake of a potentially larger pool of buyers, but we’ve seen that the vast majority of the time, people like my design choices. And there’s a note about risk – often risk is scary when we don’t know or can't see the end outcome, but if someone comes in on the project at its completion, the “risk” no longer seems risky and people can more easily see that it “works”.)
More often than not, with private clients, they already have a style they lean towards, and we are usually only working on one or two room
s in the house. This means that I need to develop a design that fits with the rest of the house (or at least what they want the rest of the house to be like, at some point) and with what makes them happy.
I definitely offer up opposing ideas, when needed, or share the latest trends when we seem to be heading down the slippery slope of 90s-style choices, but ultimately, I feel strongly that a client should love the space when we’re all said and done, no matter my personal inclinations.
So, while I get to dream up beautiful designs in both jobs, the w
ork flow and process feels very different to me in each. I love both, though; I think they stretch me in different ways, and what I learn from one type complements the other and makes me a stronger designer.