You’ve seen the before photos, you’ve seen the perfectly styled after photos, but what about those in-between photos? The photos that show how we get to the long awaited, vibrant end product. The ones that illustrate the tedious, detail-oriented, lengthy but extremely satisfying process of installation day? Well, you’re in luck, because today I’m pulling back the (custom designed) curtain to give you a behind-the-scenes look at EVERYTHING that goes into an installation day here at Blakely.
Before I get into the details, think about this: for projects that average 6 months to complete, all the moving parts must come to together on one specific day (or for projects that take 1 year or more, 2-3 specific days). This takes an immense amount of planning and communication – it’s quite the orchestration! If you followed along with us on Instagram back in December during our biggest installation yet, you got a true behind the scenes glimpse at all the expected, and unexpected, parts of our 3-day install, so now I’m going to expand on those few days to show you just how much work goes into this final phase of our process.
LEADING UP TO INSTALLATION DAY
Contrary to its name, the process of installation day does not happen in just one day. When we say “installation day”, we generally mean the installation of soft goods on our part; all the furniture, accessories, bedding and other home items that makes a house a home.
At least a month in advance, we’ll coordinate with our warehouse the exact date (or dates) we’ll be installing. Our procurement coordinator reviews receiving reports, verifies receipt of all items in the warehouse and triple checks a list of all items that should be loaded onto the truck for delivery day. Prior to our final date, we also ensure the trades have installed wallpaper, flooring, light fixtures, etc. Any last-minute construction projects are completed leading up to the installation, and the house is cleaned from top to bottom.
THE DAY BEFORE INSTALLATION DAY
We begin gathering accessories and smaller items from our studio warehouse that we’ve sourced for the project, such as books, trays, decorative objects, lamps, and artwork. After carefully bubble wrapping each item and packing them away by room, we load the labeled boxes of accessories into the van for a safe transport. Picture a life size game of Tetris, held in place by lots of ratchet straps and bungee cords. Also packed safely in the van are our 3 installation kits: one containing cleaning supplies, one filled with tools and hardware, and one for all other installation day essentials like felt furniture pads and our mini steamer.
Across town, our moving team is loading up the truck at our warehouse with the larger items like sofas, chairs and coffee tables. Ideally the items would be packed by room, but we don’t live in an ideal world, so typically everything is arranged as the movers see fit in order to maximize space. The one exception to this is all of our rugs; they’re always packed last so that on installation day they can be quickly unloaded & unrolled to lay the foundation for the rest of the furnishings.
Unloading & Unpacking
Depending on the size of the project, we may need 2-3 days to complete the installation, but a typical install of 3-4 rooms will take us one full day. When we first arrive in the morning, we’ll greet our clients and send them on their way to enjoy a stress-free day out of the house. After all, the reveal is that much better when they haven’t seen the design unfolding before their eyes! Then, it’s time for us to divide and conquer.
One of us sets out to mark off the corners of each area rug according to plan, so the delivery team know exactly where to place them – down to the nearest inch. Our project manager, with clipboard in hand, checks of each item as it’s unloaded from the truck and verifies its final destination. Once in the room, the moving guys are then met by another BID team member (or the project manager) with a dimensioned space plan in hand, so they know exactly where each item should be placed.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team is unloading our van and placing boxes of accessories in each room, unpacking them, and removing the pesty stickers from each item (Goo-Gone is a lifesaver, BTW). This is the part of the process where the space may start to look worse before it looks better.
Often times the window treatments will be installed simultaneously. Custom draperies are a no-brainer for any window; we love choosing different fabrics and trims depending on the design of each room, and they’re great way to add color and pattern!
Styling the Space
Styling is all about creating balance, movement and interest in the room. It’s those special touches that bring a room together and make it feel personal and homey. We source each accessory with a specific room and placement in mind, but the process of styling is an art. We can plan all we want on paper, but when we actually see the accessories in the room, we tend to arrange them as needed until it feels just right.
From coffee tables, to built-in shelves to kitchen counters, no surface is overlooked when it comes to accessorizing. We always bring more accessories than we need, just in case some items aren’t quite working. Styling takes having a trained eye and an understanding of what just works together. In a previous blog post, I shared 8 Expert Tips for Styling A Classic Space, so I encourage you to give it a read if you’d like to know more about how we choose to put what, where. It’s a lot of “move this here”, “take this away”, “add this plant”, “we need another red object over there”, and so on. All this zhushing is probably the most time intensive part of the day, but when you get it, you’ll know.
Throw blankets are elegantly draped over custom sofas, pillows are lovingly karate-chopped, and draperies are steamed. Colorful books are stacked, fresh greens and florals are arranged in vases, and lightbulbs are screwed into table lamps. Our styling process doesn’t leave one small detail untouched!
Expect the Unexpected
Even with all our planning and communication, sometimes everything doesn’t come together on installation day. We experienced a few hiccups during our 2 ½ day installation in Mantoloking, NJ (ICYMI, check out the installation highlight on our Instagram page!) Here are some instances when things just did not go as planned, and were added to our punch list for further attention.
Most of our projects are truly full service, meaning we’ll wash new dinnerware and glassware, launder all new bedding and towels, and stock the bar cart ;). We notice the little details, like adjusting the seam of a lampshade so that the seam is in the back, and cleaning the chandelier to remove any fingerprints. We make note on our punch list of anything that’s missing or damaged to follow up on post installation day. Our biggest goal of installation day is making the home 100% ready to be lived in when our clients arrive back home at the end of the day.At the end of the day, we carefully repack each item that we ended up not using or needing and load the boxes back into the van to return to our studio warehouse. Then, we’ll do any last-minute tidying, chill the champagne, and await our clients return!
The Big Reveal
Just like that, it all happens. Our clients arrive to see their dream space come to life with the realization that they actually get to live in this gorgeous home! Picture the reveals we’ve all seen on design TV shows where the homeowners can’t believe the transformation; happy tears are allowed! It’s an emotional moment for everyone to see the design come together after months of designing, planning and installing.
We’ll walk each gorgeous room together, pointing out the little details and special touches that we know they’ll love. During this time we briefly review the punch list to make the homeowners aware of any details that they can expect us to follow up on over the next few weeks. Then we’ll wish them well in their “new” space and leave them to relax and enjoy every square inch of it.
As we close out the project post installation day, we’ll tie up any loose ends from our punch list, and periodically check in with our clients to hear about how much they’re loving their home!
If you’re wondering about the rest of our process that leads us to this extravagant, final step, check out my last 2 posts: What you Can Expect from our Design Process (Phases 1& 2) and Phases 3 & 4.
Are you ready to live vibrantly in your home and in your everyday life? Let’s get to know each other! Schedule a complimentary discovery call with us so that you too can have an unforgettable, big reveal moment.