Even the most seasoned professionals are bound to make an error. Rather than harping on the fault, it’s essential to reflect on the situation afterward, and pinpoint a way to keep it from happening a second time. This #TipTuesday, three designers from different regions of the country tell us about their biggest whoopsie and how they learned from it.
Profession: Owner, J. Patryce Design, Hoboken, New Jersey
What is the biggest error you’ve made in a project? I measured all of the entrances, but forgot about the ceiling height in the hall. The $15,000 custom sofa (shown below) was just shy of fitting through, and would not budge. The clients were hosting a big family event that weekend, so I needed to get it in.
How did you correct it? We decided to break open the Sheetrock ceiling and that half inch gave us just the leverage we needed to tip the sofa and squeeze it through. The next morning, we had my painter come in and paint the ceiling in time for their party—a much less costly fix than remaking the sofa.
How did you avoid it in the future? I am vigilant about measuring and re-measuring (sometimes twice!). We created a sign-off box on all of our drawings to confirm that we’ve site measured. When I am in doubt and a building is tricky, I will hire an outside company to do a physical measure to confirm—it’s worth every penny. We design quite a bit of custom furnishings (rugs, furniture, upholstered pieces, etc.), so it is costly if we make an error. I am proud to say that this particular issue has not happened again!
Profession: Owner & founder, Lisa Mende Design, Charlotte, North Carolina
What is the biggest error you’ve made in a project? When I was a young designer, I chose a pale yellow paint color for a client’s dining room ceiling. This was before people were really painting ceilings in colors, and I really had no experience in doing so. I didn’t notice that a large tree with green foliage positioned outside the dining room windows cast a green hue into the room. When the ceiling was painted, it actually looked pale green rather than pale yellow. I was lucky the client actually liked it, but I was mortified.
How did you correct it? Luckily, the paint was pale, so it worked out okay, but if it had been any other color, or a stronger color, we may have had to repaint.
How did you avoid it in the future? This incidence taught me to paint large poster boards of a ceiling paint sample and tape the sample on the ceiling, because shadows and natural light can alter a color when painted on a ceiling.
Profession: Owner, Kriste Michelini Interiors, San Francisco Bay Area
What is the biggest error you’ve made in a project? The biggest error I’ve ever made was not having the sofa fit through the door in a flat in San Francisco. It was agonizing and quite a production.
How did you correct it? They did manage to take the door off and squeeze the sofa through.
How did you avoid it in the future? We now always measure doorways several times. We take it one step further and confirm with the receiver the sofa’s dimensions to ensure they can fit it through the doorway with the door on. That lesson taught me to never assume anything.