Design Horror Stories: Poor Finance Management

A designer I had known for many years contracted with me for drafting for a few projects. I believed her when she wasn’t able to pay a couple of invoices and continued providing my services. One day we had a falling out and terminated our working relationship. At the end, there were 5 unpaid invoices added up to over US$3,000. I have been sending her reminders regularly for many years and not receiving any money. 

I do not understand why a reputable seasoned designer cannot prioritize taking care of team members. I guess it was my fault to trust her since this was not the first time she owed me money. I learned my lesson that when it comes to business, it is important to stay on top of money. Fortunately, this is the only person I have had money issues with  in over 20 years.

2021 Holiday Gift Guide

This list is being updated frequently. Please check back often for new additions. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comment section!

It’s that time again! At the end of the year, we love to express our gratitude and good wishes with gifts to people around us. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, our living styles and purchasing habits have shifted. With the current situation of the supply chain, we may want to find gifting options that support small businesses and artisans, are environmentally friendly, are digital, or create an experience. 

Send Cards

It is so joyful to receive a handwritten note. For those of us who can’t quite make our own cards, there are wonderful artisans who help us to say what we want to say. 

Playa Paper

Handcrafted paper goods. All cards include postage.

Pretty by Post

Curated greeting cards for snail mail lovers available as single collections or subscription.

Handmade Goods

There is something charming about handmade goods. Artisans make jewelry, soaps, candles, pottery, and food. 

J&S MakeScents

Lower Level at 555 The Shops at Mission Viejo, Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Hand poured soy wax candles with intoxicating fragrances that only come in one color – white. No worry about choosing the right colors to match the decor. The brand just recently opened a store space at The Shops at Mission Viejo.

My Creative Outlet

21758 Devonshire St. Chatsworth, CA 91311

This creative space has an Artisan Boutique featuring local makers. 

Art for Sale

There is something charming about handmade goods. Artisans make jewelry, soaps, candles, pottery, and food. 

Andres Palos

Andres Palos is a Los Angeles based digital and film photographer. Prints are available in different sizes and frame options on this website.

Matt Spangler

Matt Spangler is an artist who draws robots. His website has prints, original arts, and merchandise available. 


Studio Channel Islands

2222 E Ventura Blvd. Camarillo, CA 93010

This art organization has a gift shop within its gallery. Beautiful and one-of-a-kind art objects fit all budget levels.

Creating an Experience

With some imagination and planning, this gift can be memorable without necessarily costing a lot of money. It could be a trip to a museum, self-guided architectural walking tour, a spring picnic at the park, etc. The options are limitless. You can create a ‘gift certificate’ to be redeemed after the hectic holiday season.

Other Ideas

With some imagination and planning, this gift can be memorable without necessarily costing a lot of money. It could be a trip to a museum, self-guided architectural walking tour, a spring picnic at the park, etc. The options are limitless. You can create a ‘gift certificate’ to be redeemed after the hectic holiday season.

Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Guide by Elemental Green

Elemental Green has gathered some of our favorite eco-friendly products to help infuse your home with healthier, more-sustainable gift-giving ideas. Whether you are looking for something for loved ones or dropping hints about a special treat for yourself, we are continually curating this list with fresh products that members of our team have vetted, tried, and recommend enthusiastically.

 

Design Horror Stories: Working Outside Their Specialties

Designers often have a strong desire to solve problems for their clients. However, instead of consulting experts, some attempt to perform the tasks themselves. You can find contractors and installers playing designer or interior designers playing architect.  

A well-known kitchen designer claimed to have knowledge of architecture. She only measured and put on plans the portions of the building that was to be worked on. She would refer me for producing drawings to obtain building permits. Every single time, I found architectural issues in her design due to the adjacent areas not being considered. Once she was moving a door over the existing under-floor access. Another time I found her new window conflicted with the pipes on the exterior wall. The worst was when she was removing 20 feet of a wall that supports the exterior wall of the upper level. In addition, clients were often not thrilled to find out they had to pay additional for drawings required for building permits. Especially after they had paid a significant amount towards her kitchen design. This designer supposedly charges a high design fee. 

When I was a Kitchen and Bath Designer at a retail store, we often had customers bringing in architectural plans for a cabinet quote. A good portion of these plans of new homes had ill-planned kitchens. It was tricky to tell the customers the designs need to be reworked without throwing their designers/architects under the bus. Kitchen and bath design is not difficult, but there are a lot of details to pay attention to. 

The most common mistake, in my opinion, is hiring someone who can work drafting programs to design and create plans for construction projects. One does not need to be an architect to design homes. However, it is necessary to have architectural education and training, drafting skills and experience, and understanding of building codes and regulations. 

Building projects today can be complex and require multiple experts. A good designer should act as a project coordinator and inform clients at the beginning of the projects what consultants are needed. Clients should understand nobody can know everything. Any professional is happy to provide proof of their expertise and answer questions.   

Design Horror Stories: Unprofessional Attitude – 1

Unprofessional Attitude is what I find most annoying. I believe strong work ethics is as important as skills and experience. 

I believe in looking the part when I am on duty. People do judge others by their appearance. I have a strong opinion about designers dressing too casually with tank tops and flip flops. It’s difficult for me to take them seriously. If we happen to be at a jobsite, I am concerned about their safety.

Once I was meeting a designer at home on a weekday morning. To my surprise, when I arrived, she was in her comfortable home clothes with no makeup. I felt uncomfortable like I was the intruder at her home. I was upset that I was not important enough for her to get ready.

Another thing that gets on my nerves is when designers are not prepared. Once on a jobsite, this other interior designer the client had hired for styling consultation showed up with her little dog. She had nothing to take notes with and did not have a measuring tape. She kept borrowing my measuring tape. A few days later, the client called and said the interior designer never sent the furniture plan she promised. Since I was planning the full renovation, I was able to create a plan so the client can keep the project going.

I have so many examples to share with this topic. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Design Horror Stories

In the design and building industry, trade professionals often talk about bad clients. However, we seem to avoid discussing behaviors of our colleagues and teammates we find horrifying. I feel it is important to reveal these “horror stories” so we can all improve. 

I will start writing a new series sharing stories from my personal experience. I do not intend to attack my colleagues. My theory is, if we are more aware of possible issues, we can create a better project experience for our clients and teammates.