The Difference Between Lifestyle, and Life

Many designers do a fine job, both in written questionnaires and in conversations with clients, of getting to the heart of lifestyle issues. Quite naturally, they want to know how the client will use the space. Some go as far as Edge member Mindy Sunday in insisting that she observe the family as it prepares and serves a meal. She’s been know to draw footprints on the floor plan of a kitchen; she’s even been know to add the paw prints of the family dog!

There’s Just One Thing They Want More!

It’s true, people love to talk about their lifestyle (“We watch a lot of television in the evening”) but there is one thing they like to talk about even more—themselves!

You see, there’s a difference between lifestyle and life. And I’m wondering if a designer who truly asks about his or her client’s life, their personal wants and needs, might not tap into something deeper than just design, and whether that might separate you further from other designers they have or might worked with.

Becoming a Design/Life Coach

As someone who frequently coaches interior designers on their businesses and their lives, I have read countless books on the subject. One of them is filled with questions that can be used in different contexts. One list of questions is called “Dreams and Desires” and it occurred to me that this might not only be a great set of questions for you to answer for yourself, but for you to ask your design prospect or clients to answer. It may not seem that they directly relate to design…then again, they may relate at a deeper level than you might imagine.

  • What do you dream of doing with your life?
  • If you had unlimited resources and couldn’t fail, what would you attempt to do?
  • Is there a dream that you’re afraid to voice, maybe for fear you’ll look arrogant or presumptuous?
  • What experiences do you want to have in your lifetime?
  • What new skills do you want to master?
  • What are ten things you’d like to do in life purely for the fun of it?
  • Where would you like to go in your life? What would you like to see and do?
  • What do you want to build or create in your lifetime, just for the joy of creativity?
  • Imagine you are 85 years old and looking at back at your life. What would cause you the greatest regret if you had not at least tried it?
  • What is the cost of NOT pursuing your dreams?
  • What will you lose if you just stay safe, stay where you are, and don’t chase your dreams?

Now I ain’t no interior designer…but compared to “Do you often have guests over for dinner?” I think the list above would result in a far more engaged client. Feel free to leave your comments below.


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