Creating Design Clarity

  • 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 vs paid - the course is yours with the finished result

    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. But, what is the value to either party?

    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


  • Celebrating My Māori Ancestry

    Recently I’ve explored, researched and joined Mum’s matrilineal heritage of being accepted into Ngāi Tahu iwi, to give my children a sense of balance in their history, and also to make myself proud of my own ancestry.

    Recently Sir Tipene O’Regan had been selected to be the 2022 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. That’s definitely something to lift your head up to acknowledge. But this year it comes with a little more significance.

    2022 New Zealander of The Year - Tā Tipene O'Regan

    As the NZ Awards organisation stated “Carving a path through history, Tā Tipene has been relentless in his pursuit for equity and justice. He is one of our most respected and admired kaumātua, orators and teachers. And after a lifetime of work, he has hugely strengthened Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu’s ownership of its own past, while helping to build a future-focused iwi.”

    Lisa Tumahai, Kaiwhakahaere from Ngāi Tahu iwi wrote in an email sent to me last week letting me know about the announcement but also sharing a video that had been made to celebrate this remarkable human. ” … To acknowledge his incredible contribution to our iwi and Niu Tīreni, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu has produced a video to mihi to Tā Tipene for his achievement …”
    If you are interested, you can watch it here

    The article in the NZ Herald, Canvas by Shane Te Pou was also an enlightening read, especially the poem at the beginning of his article. I particularly liked this part, “… built by brave and courageous navigators. Never content to stay within the safe boundaries of their known world …”

    As I reflect and look at my own path ahead, I will take a tiny bit of this man’s courage and bravery to never be content and settle on what I consider to be ‘safe boundaries’, but will endeavour to take the past 2 and half years that has produced Creating Design Clarity and be influenced by such a formidable human as Tā Tipene O’Regan. To learn more about me – Kristina – click here