By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!







Most people think the emotional journey is just for the clients. They are the ones living through it. They’re paying for it. They are experiencing all the things at each and every stage.

But I’m here to tell you that we, as designers, go through those stages as well, although they are slightly different. 

In my experience over the last 30 years, I have seen clients go through a very similar emotional pattern throughout the project. 

And so, at this point in my career, I start every project off by letting the clients know what to expect. At the end of the conversation, most homeowners are chuckling, telling me it won’t apply to them. And then, in the end, they inevitably say, “Oh my God, Renee, you were so right.” And that is the whole point of having us and our expertise on these projects. 

The first stage I see clients going through is very simple:

It’s excitement!

It better be! You’re about to take this enormous investment and very lengthy journey, whether it’s weeks, months, or years. It’s lengthy for a client who is living through it and paying for it. 

Your clients have been doing lots of research, maybe have a Pinterest board, have talked to all their friends, and are saving up money – it’s exciting! And you need that to be sustained for as long as possible. 

Because the next stage that comes in every single project is fatigue.

I wish I could tell you when fatigue will hit for each client, but I honestly have never seen a consistent pattern. It really truly depends on the length of the project, the scope of work, how the team is functioning, and all the things that can’t be foreseen at the beginning of a project.

But fatigue hits every single client at some point.

The third stage is one you need to avoid at all costs. 

And that is anger.

In my experience, anger comes when fatigue lasts too long or the client doesn’t realize that they are in ‘a normal emotional stage’ of the project. Meaning you haven’t fully explained to a client that fatigue is normal. 

When it tips into anger, everybody loses. The project loses. You, as a designer, lose. The team loses. The client loses. No good comes from anger. 

It doesn’t happen that often because I’m always on the alert to monitor the fatigue stage and make sure that it doesn’t tip into anger. And that’s what I recommend for all of you. 

The final stage is relief.

And yes, there will be some excitement mixed in, and if the project’s done right, an expression of how much they love it. But there is also a relief of no more people in their house, or they get to finally move in or back into their home and that it’s over.

But this truly is about us as interior designers and our emotional journey through the project. 

In my experience, our emotional journey is very similar to that of the client. 

There is a ton of excitement when you get a new project. You’ve marketed yourself, proving your value on other projects, and someone is trusting their probably second-largest investment after purchasing a home with you. That is something to be excited about and celebrated!

Again, I can’t tell you exactly when this stage will hit. Often, fatigue will creep up more than we think until we are right in it. 

I don’t see us going through the anger stage, or I hope we don’t go through the anger stage because we have the knowledge and understanding of the process. 

But the third stage I see and find myself in periodically is overwhelm.

Particularly when you’re a solopreneur trying to do all the things on your own.

The last stage tracks just like the homeowner – it’s relief, again, mixed with excitement. 

It’s a relief that you made it. That you no longer have to worry about XYZ. It’s a relief that your client is happy. It is relief that you’ve built and established another relationship with industry partners, from contractors and trades to architects. It is an exciting time, but it is definitely filled with relief. 

And then just after that – there’s panic. And there’s insecurity. Do you have another job lined up? 

These are normal stages to go through on every single project, regardless if you are a new designer or a seasoned one like me.

Today, I want to talk about the overwhelm stage. I’ve been feeling this lately, and I want to share some of the things I’ve been doing lately in order to mitigate the overwhelm I’m feeling.

Fall is a crazy time, and I’m sure you’re all feeling the same way.

I have ongoing work as well as new work coming in, and that’s where I am being very, very careful when I am fielding phone calls from new clients.

This is what I explain more about in today’s episode: how vetting these calls, explaining yourself and the work we do, and the value we bring to each project can add to the overwhelm.

I want you to know that I get it and have heard from a lot of designers lately about how to prove themselves and their value to various industry partners and various clients or potential can get exhausting and add to the overwhelm.

I know for a fact that when I get overwhelmed, my creative juices diminish. I’m stressed, I’m not always thinking clearly, and therefore, I am not feeling creative. I don’t want it to get to a point where it will impact the quality of the work I produce for my clients and their projects. 

You likely are or will experience this kind of overwhelm and stress, and this is a part of the emotional journey.

It is normal to experience overwhelm, stress, and anxiety when we are being questioned about our value and our services. But I don’t want you to shy away from it or ignore it. I do want you to stand firm, lean into your strengths, and explain your services, value, and why their project would be better served and elevated to a custom level they are seeking by having you be a part of the project.

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