As an interior designer, one of the most important skills you can use, is the ability to keep a “straight face” no matter how unusual the request or story shared by your clients!

Before I “spill the beans”,  I want to say,  we love ALL of our clients, and we will NEVER  reveal the identity of our “characters”..all of these scenarios happened  years in the past..  but they never stop! Believe me, it is NEVER boring around here!!! After two decades of residential design work, yes, I really could “write a book!”

SO with that said! Here are a few of the more memorable requests made to Insidestyle.

We will call #1 :

A stunningly beautiful new client shared photos with us of her recent wedding. A very colorful affair with 6 or 7 bridesmaids wearing Red dresses with Hot Pink flowers. (Not my favorite color combo but to each her own!) It was a definitely a “no budget” type wedding and she shared that she had spent over $20,000 on her dress! She couldn’t bear to put it in a box and store it – it was “a work of art!” In her new 5,000 square foot home which was all Carrera marble and white, she asked for the entire home decor to mimic the colors and theme of her wedding! Specifically, she wanted Red with lots of diamond accents, Hot Pink, Black and White! To make it more challenging, she wanted NO wood and no circular items??!!!
In addition, she planned to dedicate one entire bedroom to her dress so everyone who came over could experience it’s dazzling beauty.

As I looked for an image for this story, the only wedding dresses I could find that have been “on display” past the wedding  are Princess Kate Middleton’s ( seen above) and Miss Piggy’s from the Muppets! Hmmm…


Despite my initial reluctance to work with her, I took the job.. Mostly because we were a bit slow at the time and I needed the work! Fast forward to the end.. we did “design for her” but ended up parting ways as we couldn’t “see” eye to eye on a  final design style. ( I just can’t do red and pink together!)
Lesson learned: To listen to my intuition and to just say no to a project if it doesn’t “feel right.”


We received a new client call from an exclusive neighborhood in Las Vegas. On our very first home visit with my then assistant Tonya – we listened carefully as the client described the services she was looking for. Tonya is a very strong gal and isn’t the type to scare easily or be intimidated by anyone or anything! I was always very impressed with her on this level. So imagine my surprise when she practically jumped out of her skin, screaming and scaring us all! She had felt something furry crawling up her leg …It was a Caputian monkey! The owner’s pet! The owner went on to tell us how she wanted us  to design a large room in this million dollar home for her little angel…

Lesson actually  learned!  We said “just said no” because it didn’t feel right and despite our actions of calmly walking to the door – inside we were both mentally sprinting!


We were referred to a very nice looking man in his forties and his super gorgeous fiance .. She looked to be in her twenties but it is always hard to tell these days! (just trying to paint a picture here – no judgement! lol)  She was sporting a very large diamond and whenever we saw them, they appeared deliriously happy and “in love!” His attitude was, “Whatever she wants”… After most of the design had been decided, the fiance came back to the office with her “very good girlfriend” to review the choices….
three is a crowd
However, we soon learned that the girlfriend had very strong opinions and our client started making changes based on her friends’ opinions! I hadn’t been in  this situation before, but I couldn’t order without both clients’ approval.   A short time later, we learned that the girlfriend was actually her lover that she didn’t want to give up even though she was a newlywed!
Lesson learned: Both clients must sign off on every purchase and “friends” are discouraged in the design process!


This one isn’t as racy as the rest – but just plain fun! Our clients  were purchasing a 2nd home here in a beautiful Highrise. Their favorite movie is “Take me to the Greek! and part of that includes a “fur wall” It’s “faux fur” of course and ends up they were way ahead of the fur craze going on right now!


We were hired for a small job – just to pick paint and carpeting for a rental home. It went well. A little time went by and the client hired us a second time to purchase furniture  for a corporate event coming up soon. It went well a 2nd time and the home looked great – but it was still missing warmth that only art and accessories can bring.
I offered to purchase these items ahead and bring them to his home. Since this was our third
venture together, I agreed to meet him at his  home with our purchases and receive payment then. It was a gated community and when I got there, he wasn’t home. I spoke with him on the phone and he assured me he would be there shortly. Then,  a business “emergency” came up and he asked to meet me at the store later.  Then the “monkey business” began!..
Two days passed,  and it became  obvious he was avoiding me. I was FUMING mad! He was  not even bothering to call me back and I had $1800 dollars of merchandise sitting in his home! After talking my way into the guard gate… I circled the property anxiously – Closed shutters kept me from seeing in the front room so I parked and tiptoed through the back gate to look inside. There sat all of my purchases along with some “new things” that hadn’t been there the other day proving that he had been lying to me all along! I wiggled the doorknob cautiously and the door was unlocked! I went inside and immediately called Marc who told me  in no uncertain terms to “GET OUT!!!”.. of course I didn’t listen. lol  I started frantically gathering all of our things into the center of the living room with every intention of packing them all up and taking them back!Then,  I remembered I had left some picture frames in the master. Upon entering, I heard the shower running!!!!
OMG! He’s in the shower!!! I ran back in to the living room and started re-placing all of the items as quickly as I could .. I turned around suddenly and almost ran smack dab into the client who was in his towel! We both screamed and said at the same time…”WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!!!”  OMG>> anxiety attack!.. He excused himself to dress while  I paced nervously.
(.. yeah, he didn’t really look like this, or I would have developed an immediate stutter!)
When he resurfaced, OF course he had a reason that he didn’t have a check there..I had him sign a document that said he would pay me by coming to the store later that day – Long story short, I never saw him again. We went to small claims and settled on a payment plan – but he never made a payment.
Lesson Learned: We now get paid in advance because as a fellow designer/girlfriend of mine reminded me.. Even at McDonald’s, you have to pay at the first window, before you pick up your fries at the 2nd window.. I replied, “YES!! You’re RIGHT!” as I laughed hysterically!

All of these scenarios are old enough now for me to laugh at myself – and to recognize when a situation is uncomfortable or doesn’t feel right it’s best to walk away BEFORE engaging.. I don’t care what profession you are in, it’s important to remember that there are two parties in any business relationship and you always have a choice who to work with and under terms that work for both of you.

One great thing about being an entrepreneur,  or human,  for that matter!!!.. is that you never stop learning! I love the constant self-challenge of always doing it better next time…

Thank you for tuning in!  I hope you have a  creative, prosperous day!

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Jill Abelman

Jill is the Mad Designer on a mission. Leading her team with an unforgettable personality and impeccable taste, clients know to come to her for the best. With the characteristic "organiglam" style and a decided air of good taste, she'll tell you, once and for all, what works in the best home designs.

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