It never ceases to amaze me how insensitive and rude professionals can be. It’s one thing when you’re simply having a bad day, that’s excusable. But what about the person who makes a point of putting others down or being a know-it-all for the sake of making themselves look good? They’re not fooling anyone when they dance this act of arrogance. In fact, anyone of average intelligence can see right through the facade. Nonetheless, at some point in your home improvement journey you’re bound to deal with someone that causes severe chaffing.
Somewhat recently I was working on a remodeling project which involved reworking a living room and entry. Not a radical remodel, more of a face lift; minor repairs and additions that brought the 1940’s vintage home into the 21st century. Off the entry were a series of windows lining the breezeway, which beckon the visitor to gaze out at the backyard swimming pool. Most of the half dozen windows in this locale had failed, clouding the visual impact the outside brought into the inner hall. Our first task was to replace these failed units and get the area ready for painting. Not wanting to spend a great deal of money on this area, the homeowner had decided to replace the insulated glass units but maintain the existing, simple wood stop system. They just didn’t want to invest in a manufactured, true divided-lite wood window unit that would match the public side of the house. I really had no reason to doubt their decision. First of all, it is their investment. And secondly, even though I strive to create remodeled space that fits the era and style of the home, I didn’t see this as a compromise to the intent of the original house design. After all, it’s not uncommon to find lower cost details in the private section of the house. Although the manufactured units would certainly have looked great in this area, it just was never in the homeowner’s plan or budget.
About 6 weeks after the window portion of the job was completed, we had moved into the living room. An interior designer was brought in to help the homeowner with color and other decorating decisions needed to complete the project. While installing the new custom matched vintage moulding in the living room, I was introduced to the designer by the homeowner. She was stiffly polite, and gave a nod of acknowledgment rather than using her vocal cords. It didn’t register how rude she was until I heard her commenting on one of the homeowner’s paintings, “Well that thing has simply got to go. It has no place here whatsoever,” she barked with the confidence of a circus ringleader. I gazed up from my work to see a horrified look on the homeowner’s face, “That’s my husband’s favorite thing in this room”, she replied to a stoic non-responsive glare. I had no idea what the designer and homeowner had planned for the space and perhaps that painting didn’t fit into the overall scheme and vision. As a designer myself, I understand change can be met with resistance and sometimes requires a strong push forward. But come on, there is a protocol for these situations, it’s called common sense. Didn’t this designer ever learn the Golden Rule about treating others how you want to be treated yourself?
The following day when I was going over my list of activities, the homeowner confided in me her displeasure with the designer’s visit the previous day. I acknowledged I had overheard the comment on the painting when she told me the story behind the sentimental value of the artwork. “That painting was not going anywhere”, is essentially how she described her decision on the design plan. Then she brought up how the designer had berated her for not replacing the entry windows with true, divided-lite units to match the rest of the house. The homeowner honestly regretted even mentioning to the designer what updates we had been working on because she had both been insulted, and had to deal with second thoughts on previously made decisions.
The whole incident got me thinking about professionals in the building and architectural community. Our goals should be to design and build safe and architecturally correct structures. No professional wants to be known as the person that designed and/or built “that ridiculous looking house”. But we can never forget it is people we do the work for. And people have feelings and issues in their lives that affect how decisions are made. This should never be overlooked. When called in to consult or complete a task, the professional should never allow their opinionated expertise to be used as a whip of dominance or self-promotion.