Creating Design Clarity

  • Should I Take An Online Course Before Starting My Next Renovation/Room Makeover?

    Home Prep With A Course

    Imagine you are sitting in your house right now, and the sun is streaming in through the window warming you up inside and out. When you look around the room, you notice that is it looking tired and in need of a room makeover.

    You are either a handy DIY person and frequently visit your local hardware store like my husband whos’ go-to is Bunnings Warehouse. Or, you are more than happy to use a professional designer plus a builder to do the work (or a mix of the two!).

    Since 2020, you might have noticed a huge uptake by your friends and family doing an online course to help them with making sour dough, through to life-style farming to learning a new language?

    An Explosion Has Happened In The Online Teaching Space…

    To give you an idea of this online learning “explosion” that is going on – the online course industry has grown globally as a result of COVID + advancements in technology from US$250.8 billion in 2020, to US$457.8 billion by 2026! In 2022, 75% of American adults were enrolled in some form of online course.

    Why? Because of fast internet and global village we now live in, it is very convenient and enjoyable to do a course from the comfort of your home… you instantly connect with others who are also interested in the same topic, you can digest the material through a mix of videos, cheat sheets and live sessions, etc, and then you get huge benefits from learning that information – information that you probably never would have seen, heard or knew existed prior to taking the course.

    Surely There Is A Short-Cut ‘Out There’ To Guarantee I Will LOVE The Room Makeover Project?

    When you strip all of that away, you arrive at the heart of what people really want when they buy a course or coaching program: A SHORTCUT. It is really is that simple.

    People have a goal. And they buy if promised a shortcut to achieve their goal. SPECIFICALLY, THAT THE COURSE WILL  HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR GOAL… in a shorter TIME. at a lower financial COST. and with less RISK of failure than if they had tried to go it alone.

    That trifecta of time, cost, and risk is the promise that makes people want to buy just about anything in the space of personal learning and transformation. Do you agree?

    What you want is a shortcut. But whereas WHAT people want hasn’t changed a lick, the WAY in which this information has to be delivered has changed. Here’s what I mean…

    It Used To Be Very Hard To Find Information About Renovating Your Home…

    It feels foreign now, but it wasn’t so long ago that information (in general) was scattered and scarce.

    If you wanted to learn about something (let alone how to DO something), you would face a scavenger hunt of dead ends and piecemeal information with ideas on styles of interior design, through to appliances and paint colours. You had to sift through articles, blog posts, videos, and books, as you slowly pieced together the information you needed. Do you remember those days back in the early 2000s?

    Now There Is Too Much Information About DIY / Room Makeovers / Home Renovation…

    But of course, times have changed. The days when information was scarce and hard to come by are long gone. These days, renovation/room makeover information is abundant. A couple of hours spent on Google, YouTube or Pinterest will turn up so much material that it would take WEEKS for you to go through it all! And which bit of information applies to YOUR HOME, and in what ORDER should you do it? Will you LOVE the finished look and feel in your home?

    Is There Someone To Guide Me and Guarantee To Make It Easier To Have A Fantastic Renovation That I LOVE…

    Only no one wants to trawl through endless info and then have to sort it all out… So once information became abundant, the new shortcut that homeowners wanted was convenience. They didn’t just want to have all of the information compiled, they wanted the information curated for them. That was the beginning of where Creating Design Clarity was formed…

    As a young architect in my late 20’s, Miles and I at Earth Building South Pacific, focused on residential homeowners in New Zealand made out of Adobe mud brick or rammed earth. Our clients knew they were wanting a home that was theirs for a lifetime. The time, money and commitment that goes into building one of these homes in Aotearoa, NZ is not the same as designing and building timber and corrugated iron roof homes so common in New Zealand.

    The More I Learnt About A Homeowners Needs, Wants & Desires The Happier They Were With the Final Project…

    I quickly learnt – the more I understood my clients’ unique and immediate personal needs and wants, plus their future desired use of the house over the upcoming decades they would live in it – the happier they were with the design.

    When I followed up with them decades later I found they were still in love with their home, and it was continuing to give them ongoing happiness!

    This is their physical home I am talking about – not their partner / family members, or their four-legged friend… which I am sure are also an enduring source of pleasure as well 🙂

    As the last 30+ years have gone by I kept going back to this relationship between quality time put into learning intimate details about a client and their ongoing love affair with the finished project… as I became a qualified interior designer, kitchen designer and window treatments consultant, working with more and more clients.

    Unfortunately The Opposite Was Also True…

    I found that if the homeowner who either:

    • * Couldn’t afford to spend 20-30 hours working with me one-on-one in the exploratory phase (expensive and on my terms), and/or,
    • * When there was no time in my schedule to do this one-on-one with me (e.g. when I was a Window Treatment Consultant, and then later as a Kitchen Designer, in two extremely busy companies) the homeowners enduring love for the space was significantly diminished 🙁

    I Found A Solution For The Homeowner!

    In 2022 I launched my ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ course. It is a HYBRID course specifically for homeowners based anywhere in the world who want to learn how to get the maximum out of any invested time and money put into an entire residential build from scratch home, through to a specific room makeover.

    A course that is affordable and has the depth that is required to guarantee results for the homeowner and provides sufficient information for any 3rd party to quickly understand their new client intimately, and use ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ like a compass to guide them.

    What Is A Hybrid Course For Homeowners?

    Well, hybrid is BOTH-AND instead of OR. Here’s what I mean…

    A hybrid car isn’t petrol-powered OR electric, it’s BOTH-AND. A hybrid dog isn’t this breed OR that, it’s BOTH-AND. And by the same token, a hybrid course…

    • * …isn’t pre-recorded OR live…
    • * …isn’t on-demand OR cohort-based…
    • * …isn’t a solo OR community experience…
    • * …isn’t delivered online OR in-person…
    • * …a hybrid course is BOTH-AND. It’s all of those things – and it is very exciting for you – the homeowner looking to do a renovation of some description in the future.

    Flexibility And Understanding Is Key…

    Because, after all… Your circumstances are unique. Your personality is unique. Your skills are unique. Your partner and family members living in your home are unique. Your needs are unique. 

    In parallel to this boom in online learning, I have done a lot of research on the VALUE TO YOU of you being FULLY INFORMED about YOU.

    You Must Know What Your Design Personality For Enduring Happiness Within Your Home…

    It is your UNIQUENESS that makes it so IMPORTANT that your home 100% reflects YOU in EVERYWAY – in particular the interior spaces, because it directly IMPACTS YOUR PERSONAL HAPPINESS.

    Location and size of your home makes a tiny difference – but research shows that if you make well thought out personal expressions of yourself in your home, this is paramount to your ongoing happiness. (More on this in a future blog).

    Elevated and enduring happiness; this is a KEY INTEGRAL PART of Creating Design Clarity’s ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ interior design course.

    What Will ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ Course Give ALL Homeowners (You)?

    For all homeowners, outcomes include:

    • * Increased confidence when working with any 3rd party contractors to ensure your vision is accurately followed by them.
    • * Significantly reduced stress and anxiety during the entire process.
    • * Significantly decrease wasteful rework that consumes anywhere from 12.4% to 29.6% of your project budget (pay for the course instantly and still keep money in your pocket)
    • * Course is run 3-4 times a year – absorb and do it at a comfortable pace.
    • * Access this interior design course from the comfort of your home – anywhere in the world. You don’t come to me – I come to you through a mix of mediums to work with you.
    • * Meet other homeowners in the same situation as yourself and form a community with them.
    • * Tap into my 30+ years of knowledge as a qualified architect, interior designer, & kitchen designer!
    • * Follow my unique process of helping you to create clarity with your unique colour psychology and design psychology profile.
    • * Understand your partner better (both of you do the course for the price of one).
    • * Make the most of spending 69.7% of each day inside your home. (Yes, that is in NZ – overseas it is even higher).
    • * Join the 73% of people who are happy with their home who are also happy in life.
    • * Ensure you join the elite 24.6% of homeowners who have enduring LOVE and satisfaction with their finished home improvement project.
    • * Increase your current level of happiness or enjoyment of your recently renovated space.
    • * Be able to tackle another renovation after this upcoming one knowing you don’t have to take another course or explain yourself again (and again) to every contractor/design professional as you now KNOW YOURSELF, your design personality, and how to communicate it to others – with clarity.
    • * You now own your design personality IP. Every future home improvement project is guaranteed to be successful and a love affair between it and you every time you step into the space.

    PLUS, flexibility in time to do the course (when best time of day for you, in your home / office / wherever you have internet connection). And, multiple ways to learn using video, audio, workbooks, cheat-sheets, checklists, in combination with LIVE Q&A Brainstorming Group Coaching Sessions.

    What About Additional Benefits For Homeowners Who Use An Architect / Interior Designer / Landscape Designer / Kitchen Designer?

    In addition to the above, for homeowners who will use a design professional to design and project manage the entire room makeover:

    • * Ensure your architect, interior designer, colour consultant, kitchen designer is not using their natural default biases towards design styles, trends, colour preferences, or any other preference that does not give you longterm happiness and satisfaction in the makeover room/space or entire home.
    • * Give a copy of ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ to your chosen design professional and with a couple of simple questions they will totally understand you – and be able to quickly engage their creative side… to design a space that is totally YOU – and provide you with the latest materials, suppliers and experts to ensure you are 100% satisfied.

      Any Additional Benefits For A DIY Homeowner About To Tackle Their Renovation Project?

      In addition to the above, for DIY homeowners:

      • * Elevate your happiness of a job well done, and increase your satisfaction of your personal achievement.
      • * Reduce arguments and stress that regularly occur between you and your partner due to miscommunication and lack of clarity.
      • * Increased levels of high quality communication between you and any contractors.
      • * Reduce decision time choosing how you are going to transform the space, and choose paints, textures, styles that resonate positively with you (and your partner), while avoiding ‘specials’ and ‘trends’ that do not suit you both.

    * Significantly reduce purchase of wrong materials, accessories and budget blow-out mistakes that add costs from $1,200 to $15,000 per project.

    The Next Step Is YOURS!

    What I absolutely *CAN* do is what I do best: deliver a hybrid learning experience to empower you with the steps, resources, and tools that you need to seize this opportunity… …and ensure you have a fulfilling, impactful, and happy home.

    That’s why I created this course. It’s the beginning of a powerful journey that you will ever go on. So, please click here, get on the waiting list for the next interior design course, and download this preliminary room preparation makeover resource to get you thinking in the right direction today. Got questions? Read answers to questions from homeowners just like you.

    I would love to personally answer any questions or get your feedback on this post. Either leave comments below, or contact me here privately.


  • Why pay $997 for ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’, when a Design Professional will include it in their fee before they start designing my home improvement project?

    In fact, if I search online, I can easily find a Free Project Design Brief Template as a DIYer!

    free or paid service?

    You are absolutely right as 99% of design professionals – from architects to interior designers, through to colour consultants and design-build companies – definitely include some form of design questionnaire ‘Customer Project Design Brief’, or

    similar, for you to fill in prior to starting the creative process on your behalf. 

    The homeowner fills out a 3-5 page ‘Customer Project Design Brief’ questionnaire, and the design professional interprets the basic answers in an attempt to understand them;

    • * But what about your partner who also lives in your home? (They give you two questionnaires?)
    • * What about the other family members? (3+ questionnaires?)
    • * How much time did you put into those answers? 35+ hours? (Yeah right).
    • * How many hours did the professional put into interpreting your answers? 20+ hours? (Yeah right).
    • * How many hours of one-on-one back and forth robust dialogue happened to fully understand YOU by the professional? 30+ hours? (Maybe – if you are lucky).

    But wait a minute – how did you ‘pay’ for those last 30 hours?

    As a design professional, I charge $197/hour. 30 x 197 = $5910 would be my fee – which would be built into the overall project budget. This is before I start the creative design for you, along with other tasks I perform on your behalf (project management, shopping for accessories with you, etc). Is this a realistic use of your money and the design professionals’ time? I would say, “No!” 

    The other question you need to think about is this: “Did the design professional clearly document your design personality, and give you a copy of it?” Or, more importantly, “Do they actually know how to interpret the questions they asked – assuming they delved into psychology based questions?”

    … Because the crux of this conversation is that every one of us has a unique ‘design personality’ – which is complex and not able to be answered through a 3-5 page (or 30-50 page if you subscribe to the larger is better argument!) questionnaire – nor can be accurately interpreted by a 3rd party…  

    My colleagues LOVE the creative part of being a design professional – hence why we became an architect, interior designers, landscape designers, etc. Doing the actual front-end ‘learn what makes the client tick’ part is not creative – it can be similar to pulling teeth for many… 

    This is why I, and a growing number of design professionals, recommend you invest in the Creating Design Clarity Toolbox® course called ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’, prior to engaging with any professional or starting your DIY project. But, why? 

    First off, the most important investment is learning and clearly documenting your unique and personal design personality. Think of it like an insurance policy that you only pay once, and then you can claim it (use) over and over again – for every future renovation or new build you are personally involved in. This is one of the unique features of the Your Ultimate Design Brief course – you own the IP (Intellectual Property) about yourself – compared to the ‘old way’ of either blindly following your instincts as a DIYer, or when using a design professional they quickly attempt to learn (in 2-3 hours) who you are, what your preferences are… In both scenarios, you wonder why only 24.6% of homeowners love the finished result of the latest home improvement project? 

    We guarantee you will pay back your investment in yourself, through:

    • * Immediately minimising ‘rework’ that adds 12.4% to 29.6% of unexpected unbudgeted costs to every residential renovation or new build project – immediately saving you anywhere from $1700 to $30k depending on which room/space you are working on.
    • * Ensuring you join the elite group of 24.6% of homeowners who LOVE and feel absolute joy from their renovation – for years in the distant future.
    • * Having increased clarity (and reduced anxiety), when communicating with design professionals and tradespeople, or being more confident, with increased inner happiness when your ‘sister’ and ‘friends’ comment on your finished room makeover with well-intentioned criticism…
    • *In addition to ongoing personal satisfaction with the finished space, you also amortise your initial investment by reapplying Your Unique Design Brief over and over again (without the further investment required with us) for each subsequent renovation you tackle in the future. (The average homeowner takes on 3-4 major renovations in every house they own).
    • *Having not wasted unnecessary time filling out a 3-5 questionnaire, or finding that your design professional has not interpreted YOU as well as you thought they could’ve… (aka a disaster). 

    The one-off investment for you to learn your personal design personality and document it in ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ is just NZD$997. Learn more here

    Learning about your needs, wants, and design preferences can seem like a BIG endeavour. We want you to know that as a member of Your Ultimate Design Brief, you will have all of the support and the tools you’ll need at your fingertips to successfully document a lifelong lasting brief that is usable for every renovation (or new build) you tackle in the future. 

    Or put it another way – 

    It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is wise to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

    John Ruskin. 

    If you’re ready to truly understand your unique design personality, and then share it with either your design professional, design & build company, or, as a DIYer, use it as a compass to guide all of your colour, style, window treatments, furniture, accessory decisions, then, get excited! Your investment in the Creating Design Clarity course ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ gets you access to a full support system and a complete toolkit to get you taking powerful action in your home! Learn more about the next upcoming ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ course, here.


  • 4-5 Page Project Design Brief vs ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief’ over 4+ weeks?

    Back of a napkin sketch
    The 4-5 page residential design brief commonly used by a design professional, or DIY homeowner might as well be scribbled on the back of a paper napkin while waiting for a coffee at your local cafe!

    A ‘typical’ residential project design brief is too simplistic for the most critical document and communication tool in a renovation or building project. One of the mistakes that many make is sketching out ideas BEFORE they work out how their design personality will impact their project. Similar to writing on the back of a napkin?

    What if there was a better way for the homeowner to get to know their ‘design personality’? Would this guide the DIYer like a compass? Would the homeowner be able to give a copy of what inspires and excites them to their chosen architect, interior designer, etc, so that all parties can bring their expertise to guide vs control the project outcome?

    Comprehensive Ultimate Design Brief
    There is now an alternative; ' Your Ultimate Design Brief' which the homeowner documents their unique design personality over a 4+ week period. Is this justified? Read on to decide yourself.

    I have to admit that over the last 35+ years I have been very frustrated with myself and the entire residential renovation, room makeover and design-build industry. 

     As a qualified architect, interior designer, window treatments consultant and kitchen designer, (phew!), I have been “around the block” a few times over the last 35+ years with 100’s clients wanting to have a dream room makeover or major renovation – through to residential ‘design and build’ from scratch. 

    In all of these positions of responsibility, I have worked for myself and others. In all roles there is always a “Design Brief” – aka a document for the client to fill out prior to me or my colleagues engaging with them.

    Unfortunately, like the many outlined online – for example  Stuff newspaper article ‘Renovation 101 How To Create A Project Design Brief’ – they are all totally and utterly inadequate.

    And this is why I have been so frustrated

    Objectives and Goals Before Starting Any Form of Room-makeover, Renovation or Build-From-Scratch Residential Home Project. 

    • * Yes, you definitely need to make a ‘room makeover design brief’. 
    • * Yes, an in-depth ‘home renovation design brief’ will guide you (if you are DIYer) or, your chosen design professional (if you are not “creative” or “handy”).
    • * Yes, an in-depth ‘design and build from scratch design brief’ will make sure you don’t blow your budget.
    • * BUT, the rest of the suggestions in that article, are about 1/64th of what is required for a design brief to actually achieve those objectives they talk about.

    So, how can a design brief deliver on these goals?

    It has taken me 2+ years from 2020 to create the solution, but the actual problem has been nagging and upsetting me for decades… 

    I found over the years that it is practically impossible to spend sufficient time with a prospective homeowner to learn what I call ‘Creating Design Clarity’ via the ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief®’ programme.  

    • * How can a homeowner tell you about themselves and their preferences when you don’t give them the tools to learn this about themselves? 
    • * How can a homeowner document their design personality if you don’t give them examples and help guide them?
    • * How can you fast track this process? You can’t, I found out it takes a homeowner a minimum of 3-4 weeks to go through this process – assuming they can dedicate 30-40 hours to each of the tasks required for a satisfactory outcome. 

    This brings us to the point of all of this! What is a satisfactory outcome – or put it another way, what are the consequences of NOT doing this preparatory work properly?

    I decided to find out, and here is the highlight of my independent research. Regardless of whether the homeowner is DIY, or, uses a design professional (architect, interior designer, kitchen designer, etc): 

    • * Only 24.6% of homeowners who have finished a residential renovation or room makeover LOVE the finished result! (Are you in that elite group?)
    • * Nearly half (42.3%) of homeowners are not satisfied with their finished home improvement project, and pretend they like it… (Is this you?)
    • * The reasons they are not happy or satisfied with the finished project has nothing to do with the quality of the design or the work – it is due to a mismatch between the style, textures, colours, patterns, accessories used are not harmonious with the user(s) of the space. (Oops!)
    • * Up to a whopping 29.6% of the budget spent on renovation or room makeover is wasted on budget blowout due to rework! This is usually from changing your mind or purchasing the wrong item: Bathroom = $1k2+, Kitchen = $16k+, Build-from-scratch = $100k+. (Urgh!)
    • * All homeowners usually complete a design brief of some description prior to starting… however it is not financially justifiable or fruitful for either party (design professional or homeowner) to spend 30+ one-on-one hours to the tune of ~$2000 to $3000 to create a comprehensive design brief… (What!?)
    • * If the homeowner fills out a design brief (without someone professionally mentoring them), then they cut corners or use some corny 2-minute online quiz to find their design personality… (Oh dear!).
    • * If they did create a useful design brief, it was held by the design professional – rather than the IP owned by the homeowner… and have to repeat the same process again and again… (Sigh)
    • * Homeowners typically renovate at least 3 significant spaces (bathroom, kitchen, lounge/living and bedroom) in each of their home(s), and make the same design mistakes over and over again. i.e. they do not get maximum value from their chosen architect, interior designer or any design professional. (What’s the solution?)
    • * New Zealanders spend on average 69.7% of each day at home indoors. (Yes, really)
    • * 73% of people who are happy with their home are also happy in general, however, only 15% of homeowners have a ‘happy home’.(I don’t like those odds!)

    Do you want to love all the spaces in your home, even more than you do now, and you want to share that room with your loved one? Are you willing to invest a little bit of time over a period of 3-9 weeks to learn your design personality and pay back that investment on the first home improvement you undertake? 

    Thankfully a satisfactory outcome is now guaranteed! The first step is to learn the 3 essential prep steps for your next dream renovation, a room makeover or build from scratch – regardless of whether you are going to use a design professional, or DIY the entire thing!

    Then I recommend you read some of my other blogs as you go on this journey of discovery with me! It is time for your next residential home renovation (indoors or maybe that outdoor entertainment idea you have) – to be a love affair! Why can’t you enjoy yourself even more than you do now in your home? Why should you waste (any) unnecessary hard-earned money on avoidable rework? Why should you have to do this process of self-discovery every time you start a new renovation or room makeover?

    What are your thoughts on this topic? I would love to hear from you. Either comment below, or send me a private message