More than a year ago a blog-friend asked me to help her out with concept on a lake house her family planned to renovate.
I agreed, even though the money she was paying was inadequate and there was no refunding my expenses. It was a favor I was doing for a friend, simple as that. We coordinated and Sunday morning off I went on a 3hr-commute to a neighboring state, equipped with my camera and tape measure.
After day-long talks with my Clients, consisting of me tactfully trying get some definite answers and substance out of their unclear ideas I had the program outlined in my notes:
Light-filled house on two levels: pair of enclosed bedrooms, open family space around fireplace and Florida room on second floor. Open plan, kitchen+ closets + breakfast & dining + living + guestroom areas on first. Both floors are to have one full bathroom each. Among various styles of treatment suggested to the Client she expressed interest in boat interior (she specifically mentioned the word “yacht”), and generally – in clean modern lines and pet-friendly easy-washable surfaces. The house should offer impression of ease, relaxation and comfort after water activities on near by lake.
Knowing the way the family lived in their primary residence (lots of fussy knick-knacks, low-ceilinged rooms busy with furnishings, pets allowed everywhere including dining table), I made myself a note to augment the direction of stark boat interior with some soft surfaces, humorous accents and plenty of storage.
I will keep contractual details private and simply give you all access to the two “ideabooks” I composed for the project on my private Houzz’ account, so you can see what I am talking about. (There is no confidentiality clause in our agreement; I have copyright on my own work).
Ideabooks “Lake House” and “Elements”
Note the descriptions, statements and captions to the images I collected, as well as the amount of relevant links I provided after expert preliminary filtering process.
Conceptually, this is exactly what she asked for, and then some. I did a good and thorough job, if I may say so myself, considering crumbs she paid me and her inability to clearly express her preferences. If my recommendations were ever followed the house would have a solid potential to become a fantastic warm joyful place to live, with many clever features and easygoing character.
After giving ideabooks’ access to Client and encouraging her to comment so I can fine-tune my search I was awaiting her reaction. She made no critique in the reserved space @ ideabooks, no comments whatsoever. It took her several days and when she get back to me her response was again vague and unclear.
Finally, I asked directly what she thinks of my work. She replied, verbatim: “Thank you. Now I can imagine much better what I like and what I don’t”.
That was all! Check arrived after repeated reminders and several weeks, but there was no more conversation about the subject.
After that I was not involved with the project, although still continued friendly communication on other topics*. Long time passed; fast forward to today.
And what do I see this morning in LJ? She posted – as her “dream home” – pictures from someone’s lake house ideabook @ Houzz showing all the features I proposed in my concept. Wood planks, open plan, industrial fixtures, lots of light, multi-functional built-ins, light natural colors and textures, clean but not boring lines, plenty of colorful soft surfaces. Even photos @ the link resemble collection of conceptual images I selected for her – see corner breakfast nook, f.ex.
Unbelievable. It’s not that I need gratitude (although it is customary for clients to give acknowledgement to designer’s work) – but to tell me, not in so many words but clearly, that my conceptual proposal is unsatisfactory, hinting she didn’t like it – and then praise as her dream home exactly the concept and features I proposed!
Well…in conclusion, as they say in school essays: Designers and Architects, do not ever do charity work for so called friends!
* up until ~a month ago, when she rudely ended our relationship.