Despite being too busy all the time, we seem to think we can do everything all on our own. It is one of the psychological side-effects of the internet as explained by a Psychologist in The Verge.  Apparently, we are all delusional and ultimately unaware of what we really want to be happy. From my own experience, we also seem to be delusional about the actual TIME it takes to do anything as well!
Figuring out what makes each of us happy is not just about self-reflection but it is more about active thinking about WHAT will make us happier and to be HONEST about the time that it takes to do stuff.
It is this step in my Holistic Design process that helps my clients more than any other service or skill that I offer.  Learning what YOU really care about, thinking about what makes YOUR heart sing, really asking what YOU want your life to feel like and what it will take for YOU to be truly happy is often never done because we simply can’t find the TIME to do it or no one ever bothered to ask you these important questions.
“Thank you for making me take the time to actually ponder these questions and reflect on my life!  This process seemed odd at first to help me with my home remodel project but now I see that it really made a difference.”
~ a happy client
My holistic approach towards design has served my clients well as it places the emphasis on the front end – the preparation of the project – in order to manage the overall project better, spend less money, lose less sleep and ultimately get more of what you want. For me, it’s much more than creating a ‘pretty space’ for you. It is about creating a space that makes you happy in all the sustainable ways that I want myself. Creating a space that you are comfortable in, that you can clean easily, find things you need, not feel overwhelmed, sleep really well and simply can focus on the living and being and not the doing. That’s a well-designed space.
You can see that ASKING some key questions about your life would be a good way to START a design project for such an essential element to your overall happiness, right?
Then WHY do you think that most people still insist that they can do a RENOVATION on their own still?
After pondering this troublesome questions for literally decades, the best answer I can come up with is that because of the INTERNET as a resource, and the speed in which most of us are living/running at, the ability to slow down enough to ask these questions before a project is simply not something that is even considered. We are being conditioned to think we can all be experts in everything or wing it with Google’s help.
Again, I think this falls under the category of “delusional thinking” that is not getting us anywhere fast. However I am old enough to know which battles I can win, and this is not one of them so I am here to offer SOLUTIONS to help with this condition because I have seen the NEED for help during the process.
And trust me I am not criticizing anyone because I am self-aware enough to recognize that I have my own blind spots and am delusional in areas of my own life. Luckily for YOU, the design, construction, renovation arena is not one of them.
After nearly three decades in the industry, I have learned the hard way to listen to WHAT my clients are asking for.
(drum roll please)
So, I have launched my newest approach to help you all do your own design project, with the added benefit of a designer expert on-call; Design-It-With-You™ or as I refer to it DIWY™ is a result of this phenomenon.
DIWY™ is my approach to HELP YOU to figure out what you NEED right now. And it also offers the ability to add, delete or change things as you go. Ultimate flexibility. Just like Amazon. (almost)
A project has many stages to it, and some of these may be easier or not, depending on your own skills, your resources, and your experience.  So, you may not want or even need the traditional “Design-It-For-You” approach for your design remodel project. Now you can CHOOSE what you need my expert advice on – exactly!  You can ask for help with the creation and management of the BUDGET, or just the creation of the KITCHEN DESIGN, or perhaps you only need help PURCHASING the fixtures or selecting the perfect COLOR scheme. Whatever it is, you can get just what you need with the DIWY approach.
Until you decide what you need, or even if the DIWY is still too much of a commitment, you can see my TOP TIPS below. (and then you can call me later when you figure out where the gap is!) Start your DIWY process NOW
Asking for what you want in a clear, consistent manner is helpful. Knowing what you want is essential. And remember who is the boss (by the way, that is YOU!) during the course of the project is also a key factor in the ultimate success of any project.
Often under stress, we can feel out of control, and even sometimes we can be bullied into things we do not need or want, simply because we do not know better, or are being forced to make decisions quickly without any help. My advice is to ask LOTS of questions until you understand everything you need to to make sound decisions.
You know the saying there is no such thing as a stupid question? Well, that is the truth!  Ask away!
Be realistic about how much time you need to do what you are setting yourself out to do.
Projects take time to design, manage, order products, keep track of it all, etc. In fact, I can share as an expert in this field for almost 3 decades, a project takes a lot more time that you would think. My experience is that my clients underestimate it by 3 times on average. Yes, you heard me right. If you create a schedule for the time it will take, I suggest you TRIPLE it and you will be closer to being right.
Despite the internet providing you a lot of help at your fingertips, sometimes it just takes too much time to get to the right answer. This is when I suggest you pull in a pro to help you!  Do not waste your valuable time and energy trying to do something that is not your main skill set.
If you need help – ask! Start your DIWY process now
This can’t be emphasized enough but create a budget BEFORE you start otherwise you spend more than you want to or need to.
If you do not know how to do this, you can get help! Of course, you can do this from researching on the internet, or talk with family or friends, though every project is different so be wary of the person that knows everything after ONE project.  Another DIY option is to get my book, Feng Shui Tips: Home Renovations and downloading my “budget templates” which can help you do this yourself.
Or you can again just ask for help. Start your DIWY process now
I advise my clients to create a preliminary budget template and then to fill it in as you make decisions, make purchases so you have a running tally of your expenses. This allows for you to be totally comfortable in your own process, make more educated choices and to not stress about this aspect of the project at all.
In the speedy world we live in where we all like to say how busy we are, and how we do not have enough time to do everything, it is the single piece of advice I can give (And the one that is most consistently ignored in the beginning) is to SLOW DOWN and think through the overall project in a realistic manner before you start anything.
Create a budget, think through a schedule, make alternative arrangements for accommodation, pet care and time off work and then start looking at what you want to purchase and check availability and delivery dates and then, and only then get your contractor on board and start demolition.
Of course, since this is the least followed piece of advice, I am often called in to help in the middle of a project to help solve some problem whether it be managing the contractor to get a realistic finishing schedule, to solve a design problem not anticipated, or to help manage you to live in the middle of a construction site, I can help with it all.
Because after all this time I have seen A LOT. I will not say that I have seen it all because that is not true as I find that I learn something on each and every project. I do not subscribe to being a KNOW-IT-ALL, and I suggest that you do the same. Going into a project with your eyes wide open and the curiosity of a child makes the adventure so much more rewarding too!

Do not always go for the least expensive thing, or person as this often can be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Value is about what gives you the best, LONG TERM result and sometimes I think we can get too focused on just the money in dollars and cents when it is a much bigger picture than this.
Simply put, think through all your choices and make sure that you are getting what you WANT, what you NEED and what will bring most HAPPINESS long term before you decide.
This includes when you are choosing a contractor as well as deciding on the purchasing of a faucet. I advise you go through the same thought process for all your purchases and you will make a lot fewer mistakes in the long run.


Do you need some help? Start your DIWY process now
Experience is key here. You do not need me to list the statistics to demonstrate this, all you have to do is to look at your own life. We were not born knowing how to do anything so we have had to learn everything from tying our own shoes, climbing stairs, up to creating a presentation for work, or cooking a lasagna.
I have TONS of experience in the DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION world. All sorts of stuff. Every project ranging from commercial real estate relocations to residential renovations, hospitality designs, institutional projects, to small mini renovations to a large multi-million dollar, mixed-use, many-phased mass-moves. Design, Construction, Furniture design, Move Management, Project Management, Strategic Planning to Workplace innovation – you name it, I have probably done it or been part of a project that included it. That just comes from doing the same thing for as long as I have been doing this. There is nothing that can compare with the hands-on expertise that comes from experience. I can be part of your team, all you need to do is invite me in.


What do you need? Just ask. Start your DIWY process now

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