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In this segment In Business, a video series from Custom Builder that provides a platform for custom home design, architecture, and building experts and professionals to share their experiences and insights, custom builder Zane Williams, president of Z Properties in Winter Park, Fla, elaborates on his relationship with modern home design trends—how they do and also don't play a role in his design decisions. 

"I do pay attention (to trends) ... and I definitely want to stay ahead of trends," says Williams. "But I think that's hard to sell a client on, because they're not used to seeing it." 

The challenge with staying ahead of trends, Williams explains, is that clients approaching a builder for a home are often drawn by work that firm has done in the past—work the potential client has seen and now wants immulated. "A lot of times I've moved on from what they've seen, and I don't want to go build that again." Showing a client something new can be tough, he adds, because it's, one, hard for people to visualize a style they've never seen before; and two, people are often slow to appreciate a new look. 

"I try and tell my clients it's like a car," Williams says. "When you pass the new BMW on the road and it's go the new big grill, you don't like it the first four, five, eight times you pass it on the road. And after three or four months, you realize how outdated the other one was and that you like it."

An important line in Williams's intiial design converations with clients is, "it's okay if you don't fall in love with it right away." 

By keeping design and construction services in-house, custom building company Z Properties is able to better realize the fullness of owner Zane Williams’ design vision without unnecessary compromise.
Image: Z Properties

Handling Conflicting Visions in Home Design

Of course, those conversations aren't always easy. In fact, Williams expects a certain amount of pushback. Handling those situations, he says, is a matter of "client relations." 

"There are clients that come to you and are like, 'Okay. I don't get it yet. But I absolutely trust you, so it's fine.' And then you have clients that are a little bit more timid and scared and you lay things out and you build that trust with them as you go." 

Part of building that relationship with clients and learning how to build both with and for them, Williams says, is getting to know and understand their own personal tastes and style—which may or may not jive with Williams's own. 

"If you see that they've got good taste, then you take their feedback and you're open to it." Williams says he wants to "elevate a clients style," if that's an option. But not every client has "good" taste, as it relates to Z Properties' and Williams's style. And more than anything, he is loyal to his style of design. "I'm on the offensive there," he admits of clients whose vision fundamentally opposes his own. 

But clashing styles isn't a make or break for Williams. Those conflicting visions may be reconciled though conversations with clients, getting to know their personalities better and building mutual trust. "It's not a one-size-fits-all for how you're going to handle the client."