When I first lay out a project, I ask: “Who am I working with?" like it's a first date. I don't ask, “What is the budget?” or “What style does the client prefer?” The reason being: these questions are secondary to the intuitive process of who is the client and what potential lies in the site itself.
Imagine the character of the kitchen cabinet: she's a modern gal, or is he a studious collegiate type? Or the character of a fireplace face: is she ornamental or is he minimal, earthy or slick? Some of these imagined characters might be my client's preferences but not necessarily, just like we have friends that aren’t like us. I've seen furnishings clients love, that remind them of their ancestors but aren't necessarily their style. How can they become their style is the question, or will they ever?
If I start with a party of materials in a room and I want my guests (newly added furnishings, embellishments, architecture, landscapes etc.) to feel comfortable, I introduce them to what is a common thread between them, like a good hostess might do. The blue of the skyline out of a Miami high-rise might be reason enough to use the same shade of blue for piping on a cushion.
The inspiration of the Japanese bath wall designs shown in the above photo, came from the grassy hill outside the window of the soaking tub in the Fong house. Interior meets exterior using fifteen colors and ten sizes of 2" tile. Thank goodness for expansive product lines.
To summarize metaphorically what I'm saying, is that I like to go out and create a party of meandering folks. One material girl attracted to another material guy, with a handshake, a curtsy and a poetic proposal. Now that's a good time.