From salad girl to bus girl, hostess to server, bartender to dining room manager, I spent just shy of a decade working in the restaurant industry before beginning my career as a high end interior designer. Now I assure you, these positions were not always the most glamorous, but each one influenced how I approach my work as a designer today.

In fact, there’s a lot anyone making decisions about their home design can learn from today’s top gourmet chefs. Here are a few:

Even the best chefs start with a recipe. The same can be said for interior designers. When a chef begins his decision making process, he usually starts by asking himself: What kind of dish will I prepare? Beef? Seafood? Pasta?  Is it traditional? Is it eclectic with a hint of Moroccan, etc.?

Similarly, a high end interior design professional will always start with an overall concept of where the design is going. Is it traditional luxury? Is it contemporary? Concentrating on general direction first before getting into specific details makes sure you stay on track later when things start to get hairy.

No matter how involved you are with making design decisions about your home, you should take a page out of these professionals’ cookbooks. If you walk into a design project without a basic guideline, you can expect the results to be all over the place. It should be the designer’s job to keep the project moving forward, but you’re the one who has to live there.

Gourmet chefs recognize when magic is happening and follow its lead. An unexpected hunch may lead to an ingredient that takes the dish to a whole new level.

Don’t be afraid to do the same.

Once you and/or your interior designer have established a plan, don’t feel like you are bound to it. Even if you think you know what you want at the beginning, keeping your mind open to all the possibilities will let your project evolve and progress organically.

If you’re making interior design decisions for your home, learn to think this way.

Some of the most memorable and flavorful of dishes combine ingredients from different cultures and styles of cuisine.

I happen to live with a chef. Sometimes he works magic with flavors that I never in a million years would have thought to put together.

Now as a high end interior design designer, it is fun and exciting for me to tap into my creativity by combining pieces and styles that “the rules” say we cannot combine. This is the beauty of so many things–cooking and design included–that there really are no rules.

Taking a chance and being bold with our flavors and choices can often result in a quality interior design that cultivates all the different aspects we desire.

Gourmet chefs create individual works of art that come out on a fantastic plate and are presented beautifully before being savored by each of us. I know I have certainly seen dishes so beautiful that I actually felt bad wolfing them down. I didn’t want to ruin the presentation. What a shame! Because when it comes down to it, food is really about eating.

This is a concept we deal with in the high end interior design world as well, but we must learn to take a different approach. Some interiors look so picture perfect that you feel you wouldn’t want to even sit down on any of the furniture for fear of ruining the look. This is not real life.

When making decisions about home design, remember it’s where you’ll be spending a good deal of your time. As such, it has to be comfortable and provide a safe and happy atmosphere for you and your family.

We all know the best results come from hard work. Some of the most innovative, beautiful and delicious meals begin with a small idea that takes long hours, sweat, and many tries before the perfect combination emerges.

This is no different than the most innovative, beautiful, functional, highest quality interior designs. It all begins with an idea, and it takes the right team— including the designer, the client and all supporting crew members to do their part to make it happen.

No matter what your role is in the process, have fun, but also take it seriously if you want a home you’re proud of.

Bon Appétit and Happy designing!