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Dallas’ Best Designers Share the Biggest Takeaways from Their Decades-Long Careers

After years in the industry, our seasoned pros have picked up a thing or two (million). They share their biggest takeaways.
By D Home |
Carrie Hatfield, Janet Gridley Pam-Kelley, and Jennifer Littke
Elizabeth Lavin

This story is part of The Best Designers in Dallas 2021 feature. Click here to see the 2021 winners.

“The biggest lesson I have learned over the years is if you engage a client that needs ‘a little help,’ the outcome will not be satisfying for either of us.” —Janet Gridley, Gridley LLC

“A lot of my work is in LA and New York, and travel has been next to impossible the last year. Word to the wise: Make sure you triple-check measurements given to you by on-site staff. I was given incorrect dimensions, and a fireplace screen was made to the incorrect specs—heart-breaking but oh so funny. Something on every project goes inevitably wrong—it’s part of the job. You make a million right decisions and have to give yourself grace on the one or two that go awry.” —Jennifer Littke, SETSTUDIO

“I always say, ‘The day I quit learning and the day I quit making a mistake is the day I am dead!’ My takeaway from three decades of owning my interior design company is: lots of sleepless nights—and measure, measure, measure again.” —Pam Kelley, Pam Kelley Design

“You really can’t ask your client too many questions. Each person’s home is incredibly personal, so understanding a client’s tastes, motivations, how they live, what they love (and don’t love), and what they’re passionate about is paramount. If you really engage and, most important, really listen, then it’s hard to fail.” —Joslyn Taylor, SWOON

“Most of our projects are taking longer than anticipated, and that can produce more well-thought-out decisions sometimes. Trust the design process and be patient to let it work.” —Carrie Hatfield, Carrie Hatfield Interior Design

“Never assume anything in the world of decorating. Never assume that the client can make quick decisions, just because they tell you they always make quick decisions. Never assume the fabric you ordered will match the sample you checked out from the showroom. Never assume matching windows are actually the same size. Never assume the more expensive it is, the better it is. Never assume the sofa will fit in the elevator. Never assume there are decorating rules that can’t be successfully broken.” —John Marrs, John Phifer Marrs Interiors

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