Starting the Interior Design Process:
The Most Important First Step to Ensure Success of your Interior Design Project
So you’re finally ready to move forward on your design project.
You’re all starry-eyed as the realization of your dream home is starting to become a reality. You have decided on a designer to help you implement a plan .
And then all of a sudden the fear sets in.
You think you know what you want. You have lots of ideas and pictures to share. The problem is they don’t all necessarily go together. And you’re not sure what it all will cost. “What if I don’t like what my designer comes up with?”
Actually, you have more control of the outcome than you may realize. Successful Interior Design is a partnership. And like all good relationships, you get out of it according to what you contribute.
The most important first step
to ensure success of your Interior Design project
is establishing a good line of communication.
All Interior Designers follow a standard procedure of processes for a project although individual approaches within each process can be wide and varied. The first step of all design projects is referred to as “programming” where a designer gets to know you and understand your wants and desires for your project. Budgetary restrictions are explored, expectations are clarified, a big picture of what you want to accomplish is created and preliminary concepts are discussed. Here begins the dance of mutual respect and trust which is a necessary ingredient as well.
Through the years, I have come to understand and appreciate
that the programming phase is the most critical step that will
determine the success or failure of a project.
There are times both client and designer, in their excitement to get started on the project, will rush off in a direction that is too vague and weighted with assumptions. Giving the programming phase the emphasis and importance it deserves will reduce the need for later having to backtrack and redesign. It will save you money, disappointment, and frustration.
So how do we ensure that the programming phase
of your project will set us up for success?
It starts here.
1. Take time to fill out the design questionnaire.
I confess I am not fond of filling out questionnaires and am sure many others feel the same way. However, the more intentional you answer a questionnaire will set the stage for how your project proceeds. It is not a substitute for real conversation, but it will give us a starting point to dig a little deeper when we do talk and save you money in the long run.
2. Prioritize the goals of a project.
Before you meet up with a designer to discuss your project it is a good idea to make a list of “must haves” and “would like to haves”. Also, include a column for “in my dreams” for those things you would love to have even though you know they may be beyond your expectations within your budget realm. Even if you are on a budget, it is important to let your designer know if there is a particular area you would stretch a little for. Almost all jobs entail some degree of compromise. There may be one area of the job you would be willing to “skimp on” to make a “splurge” in another area possible. It is important to convey this to your designer so they can arrive at the best solutions for your project.
3. Be real about your budget.
Many people balk at disclosing their budget as they often don’t really know what things cost. However, everyone should know what they are able and/or willing to pay for a project. It is the designer’s responsibility to educate you on what can be expected within a certain budget range and if your budget is feasible to accomplish your expectations. It is never a good idea to conceal what you are willing to spend in hopes that you may get what you want for less. Likewise, a designer should be able to give you a guesstimate of the time it will take to complete your project and what that might cost you. Starting a project without some parameters is a recipe for disaster.
4. Say what you are thinking.
All too often, a client will hold back their own thoughts and only be interested in what clever ideas their designer will come up with. Then off they go down a bunny trail only to discover later that really wasn’t what the client needed or wanted. Without your active input and feedback, a designer cannot read your mind.
5. Be open to alternate ways of thinking.
Once a designer has totally listened to your thoughts and understands your lifestyle and needs, it is time for you to sit back and let him/her do their magic. A designer will take all the information, edit and mix it with their own creative juices to arrive at solutions that are uniquely tailored for you. It is important to understand and trust that your designer has a big picture of how all the elements will interact. Just because you love something doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the total scheme of things. And you don’t have to have a love affair with every single decision that plays a supporting role.
6. Understand the process.
All good things take time. Interior Design projects require the orchestration of many elements. A clear understanding of the role of both designer and client needs to be established and agreed on from the very beginning. It is important to understand that sometimes things happen in life that are beyond our control. A key fabric may be on back order, a furniture piece arrives damaged, a contractor may be off schedule or , or, or … the list goes on. In a perfect world, it would be nice to close your eyes and have your designer wave a wand and your project be done. But that is not the way it usually happens. Unrealistic expectations of the process can derail the best of projects. Discuss potential problems that may arise in a project and it will circumvent any unnecessary drama later.
7. Include all decision-making parties.
It is important that all decision-making parties be present at initial meetings and that all needs are addressed from the very beginning.
Establishing good communication channels from the onset of a project goes a far way in guaranteeing you will be happy with the end result. Interior Designers have your best interest at heart. Our goal is to not only create a beautiful aesthetic but to help you lead a healthier, happier and safer life.