Your client is having trouble visualizing the project. This is a common hurdle for contractors. You probably have years of knowledge and experience with the subject, so when you specify a color, you can already see it on the client’s wall.
The client, however, has a much harder time imagining it – and this goes beyond certain people being more visually stimulated than others. They simply don’t have the experience and that’s where you have to make a bridge. How do you show a client how a project will turn out without having to meet them?
You’d be forgiven for thinking this topic was inspired by the ongoing pandemic, but while it certainly does help in this context, being able to communicate these things to clients is a valuable tool for any contractor.
Take inspiration from online pics
Though there are some problems with relying on online pics for reference, they can be a great starting point. When you’re at the “blank page” part of a project, looking up some references online is a fantastic way to bounce off some ideas with your client and head in the right direction from there.
It also helps in determining what’s possible within current budget restraints, deadlines, availability of materials and so on. Nothing is set in stone at this point!
Create a concept board
The concept board is an extension of the previous topic. The easiest way to make one is to create a board on Pinterest, for example, and share with your client. Now both of you can add tons of ideas to the board and trade notes to work off of. From these random ideas you can start to filter what will actually be used as reference and slowly eliminate the clutter.
However, as mentioned before, there is a problem with using online pics for reference: they often differ from real life samples. Photo filters are often the culprit, but even different monitor calibrations can change the look of the same image when viewed on different screens, so do take that into consideration. On later stages of the project, it’s better to rely on real-life samples for accuracy (which we’ll talk about soon).
Use your phone and tablet
Taking photos with your phone is one of the most valuable tools a contractor has to visualize projects. Not only can you take these back to the office to have as reference, but you can also sketch over them and make comparisons to your reference material.
Better yet, if you like dabbling into ways to use tech as a contractor, you can use certain interior design apps to digitally change the color of certain assets, as well as replace furniture and such. Some of these apps even work in augmented reality, meaning you can film a room and see the changes taking place in real time. Interior designers and architects often make good use of these tools!
Obviously the real results might differ, but it’s still something to consider when you’re trying to show a client how things will turn out.
Take advantage of 3D rendering
A more advanced idea for sure, but one that professional interior designers and architects will be very familiar with.
If you’ve never dabbled into 3D modeling yourself, I can tell you one thing right away: it’s difficult, time-consuming, and takes just as much effort to learn and master as taking a college course. However, what we’re suggesting isn’t that you learn 3D modeling yourself.
For certain projects, you can instead hire professional 3D artists to concept a photorealistic rendition of your final project. Turns out, there are 3D pros that specialize in this line of work and will use your real-life measures and materials into account.
While hiring a pro like this won’t be possible for every other project, you should definitely consider it for more complex projects of a larger scope and budget as a way to show your clients a photo-real rendition of the finished work.
To give you an idea of how good this gets: the image above is a 3D render, not a real photo.
Send real samples
It’s almost impossible to perfectly show and visualize colors, tiles, textures, and other things of this nature only through a computer screen. Pinterest and Instagram photos in particular tend to have some sort of filter or color adjustment that slightly alters the true colors of materials.
Not only that, but even the different calibration of computer screens can dramatically alter certain colors.
The best way to get around this is to send your client real-life samples of paint colors, tiles, and wood tones whenever possible. They will be able to see the material hands-on, which makes a huge difference in their judgment when compared to looking at pictures on a computer screen.
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