With over two decades of interior design experience and an alphabet soup behind her name—ASID, IIDA, CMKBD, CMG and CAPS—Sarah Reep, director of design relations and education for Delta Faucet’s sister company Masco Cabinetry, is a go-to source for all things interior design. We recently asked Sarah to share some of her well-respected wisdom with us. Here’s what she had to say:

She Plays Detective.
Consumers are not always in touch with the dynamics of their space, the dynamics of their family or how they actually function within their space. As such, she believes a good designer will sort all this out for his or herself. “Homeowners may say they don’t have enough counter space, but what they may really need is a better layout that accommodates a good traffic pattern or to take the work triangle approach. In that sense, we become a therapist, analyst, advisor and detective. We have to know our client, know our product and execute using the proper tools,” she said.

She Connects the Dots.
Sarah knows that any design project must account for many points of view. Sure, one person may well be the buyer, but multiple people use the space and designers need to negotiate their perspectives as well. “It’s important to know the buyer. But before you get to work, it’s important to hear all of the things that will influence a final decision. Listen to all parties, watch their facial expressions and see their body language to discover what they are passionate about and to discern any physical disruptions that may hinder success. Then cross-pollinate a variety of touch points, so you can be that interior designer who brings forward the best possible solution,” she said. “If it’s on Pinterest, Houzz and Google Images, whatever “it” may be is already mainstream. Those of us on a more inventive path to create new and different design see these sources as important and validating. However, as a trend forecaster, I’m always looking for what’s new now and what’s next. I like to look at early adopters to see opportunities on the horizon or confirm ideas I want to test to see if they can be successful, sustainable and profitable,” she said. “As an industry, it’s smart for each of us to align with good partners and resources who can give us forward-thinking insights. It helps us all calibrate and sift through this world of ‘too much information.’”