Eventually all my clients hear the toaster story.
One of the challenges of the interior design business is finding the balance between spouses.
Folks are emotional about their homes. When the emotion is attached to a custom built house costing hundreds of thousands of dollars,or several millions, it can get tricky. For some the house is an investment. For others it is the dream they have been working toward for a lifetime. Often the husband and wife don't have the same dream so the project is the compromise house. Oy!
When it is the compromise house rather than the dream house, the process from beginning to end is a lot tougher. Each partner tries to bring to the table the greatest number of components of their dream house to the compromise house. They are not always polite in their negotiations.
Often one of the spouses will try to entice my recommendations to their side of the table. I always explain my obligation is to the project, not to any one individual. I often am forced to mention there are enough choices in design to reach a decision with which all parties can live happily ever after. Sometimes I am forced to remind a client the spouse counts too. Oy!
If you are a blessed designer, you can navigate this issue without incident. Sometimes you are embroiled in the divisions of the marriage and not just the divisions of decision making. Oy!
This week I have received an e-mail from a spouse asking the following:
" is my spouse asking you to make recommendations outside our joint parameters?"
I currently have clients building a two comma here but who live half way to California.
He has an e-mail address, she has an e-mail address. They e-mail me separately asking for a nod for their favored choice over the spouses favored choice because they have ,
"agreed to agree on my recommendations".
In many cases, when we are all gathered for a meeting eventually an issue will crop up that makes me say, " Another toaster" under my breath. Sometimes I am not as under as I think I am so I am heard and then questioned. I have learned over the years to share this event in a way which illustrates the need for wives and husbands to not just hear each other but actually give thought and consideration to what the other is saying. Oy!
A decade or so ago our toaster died. Fine with me, I don't use a toaster as I like my toast, well, oven toasted. Blowfish prefers his warmed bread to pop out of a countertop appliance. Not a toaster oven. Fine, it is easy enough for us both to indulge in our preferences. So, since I do not use a toaster I did not immediately know the toaster was deceased. One morning when we were breakfasting at the same time Blowfish inquired if I was going to do something about replacing the toaster. I mentioned I don't use a toaster so he should just pick up one he liked, my only request was about color. I had no desire to have a school bus yellow toaster in our Kitchen.
When the weekend rolled around Blowfish invited me to go to a store to take a look at the toaster of his dreams. What!?!?!? He wants me to go look at a toaster? But I smiled sweetly and journeyed forth with him to look at the dream. Oy!
When we arrived in the appropriate aisle of the store Blowfish quickened his step and stopped in front of the toasters and grinned big. I looked where he was looking and saw an impressive line up of toasters. Blowfish was getting antsy so I asked,
"Which one did we come to see?"
Right off he was offended and waved in a general direction and said,
" THAT ONE!"
I looked again, trying hard to decipher the ONE.
"Show me," I requested.
The dream toaster was this ginormous appliance that I loathed on site. It was huge, I mean it looked like it could serve the masses on an aircraft carrier. Seriously it had 8 adjustable width slots, about a hundred different settings and it looked like it was designed by some techno loving sculpture school reject.
" Is this a joke? You don't really mean this thing do you?",
A whole new level of puff was achieved that instant. Oy!
I mentioned I understood he was in need of a new toaster and I was all in favor of us seeing to that need but one toaster man does not need ... Pointless. Eventually I made a recommendation to Blowfish about another toaster, which would not take up too much counter space and would make great toast. He was not happy so he turned salesman on me and tried mightly to get me to like the toaster of his dreams. Finally I said,
" Blowfish if you really want this giant, ugly, $400 toaster then get it. It will take up far too much counter space so we will have to store it in the cupboard and just put it out when you want to use it."
"That is not how I want to do things", replied Blowfish.
"What was the point of bringing me down here to get my opinion if your only purpose is to overide that opinion?"
We left without buying a toaster of any description.
About a week later I came back from an out of state project only to discover the Blowfish dream toaster squatting in my Kitchen. I just thought it was huge on the store shelf. It looked like it had grown even bigger sitting on my counter. And uglier. While I was recovering from the shock Blowfish arrived in the kitchen all smiles and said, " See, it looks great in here! You have to admit Fishy, this time I was right and you just need to listen to me more often."
I had a tremendous urge to swat that monster to the floor and kick the scribble out of it.
I reminded myself I had said to bring it home if that was what he really wanted. I reminded myself Blowfish was standing in front of me looking proud and happy, maybe even in love with that thing on the counter. I reminded myself it was just a damn toaster. A damn big toaster.
So I summoned a smile and said,
"How's the toast?"