Have you ever wondered what the design process takes to get from the space you see every day to the one that feels bold, beautiful, and courageously vibrant?
Let me tell you, it’s far more involved and strategic than selecting fabrics and furniture!
Together we’ll explore your goals and aesthetic, create a floor plan that works, design rooms that you’ll love to live in, and map out a budget that fits. This is all followed by coordinating trades and deadlines, managing orders and installation … and that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
A design project is a big endeavor, but comes with excitement, dreaming big, and planning for more than the life you live — we’ll design the life you want to live.
We’re no strangers to this beautiful balancing act of style and project management, and our secret is… our buttoned-up design process!
We take your trust very seriously, and this structured design process ensures that we’re creating a deep relationship with you, keeping your project on track, meeting expectations (or exceeding them!), and bringing you to your most authentic and vibrant result.
Overview of Phases 1 & 2
Our design process consists of 4 highly tailored phases. In this post, I’m sharing the first two phases. In a couple weeks, I’ll share the last two.
Phase 1: Schematic Design
- Project Kickoff & Discovery
- Space Planning
- Conceptual Design
- Furnishings Investment Development
Phase 2: Design Development
- Material & Furnishings Specifications
- Budget Review
- Construction Documentation
Here’s what you can expect from these phases of our design process, detail by exceptional detail…
Phase 1: Schematic Design
Your project is about to begin! First, we’ll do what we call a Client Deep Dive. It’s an action-packed, face-to-face or virtual meeting, where we’ll dive into those exciting details: your goals, wants and must-haves, seating preferences, any allergies we need to know about, and more.
We’ll also take a look at your design inspiration boards — Pinterest or Houzz is great for this — which helps us understand your personal style and aesthetic. (Here’s a great post on how to discover your design aesthetic!)
While we encourage you to fill your boards with beautiful photos of inspiring interiors, make sure you communicate to us if there is anything you don’t like in the photos. (“I love that brass light fixture, but the orange rug? Not so much.”)
Any and all info will help us create a design you love!
Smart scheduling is a big priority for us. We respect your time, so we develop detailed schedules at the onset of each project with pre-determined presentation dates.
With your availability in mind, we’ll note all the meetings that we’ll ask you to attend, whether in our studio or in your home. Of course, if any conflicts arise, we can adjust as needed, but you’ll know in advance when you’ll see space plans, concepts, design selections, and even your much-anticipated installation date. 😉
This keeps us all on track and allows you the freedom to manage your schedule without unexpected interruptions. After all, your time is valuable!
I know a space plan isn’t so vibrant or colorful, but it’s one of the most important aspects of a well-designed and functional room — it creates the overall flow for the ways you’ll use it, be it your daily routine, entertaining, even holiday events.
Once the requirements for the project are set, we’ll begin space planning, which includes the overall room layout, furnishing scales (yes, we make it to-scale), and placement.
Here’s an example of a space plan we developed for the first floor of a home. We mapped out the flow, used furniture to create “rooms” within the open concept area, and made sure that the functions of one room flowed well into the next!
Zeroing in on a design concept you love is ESSENTIAL to the success of the project — not to mention one of the most exciting parts as a homeowner. If we nail the design concepts, then the selections are almost nearly spot-on!
We’ll share our design concepts for each room, including space plans, color schemes, finishes, textures and overall aesthetic. Once we receive your approval, we’ll finalize the concept and start bringing it to life.
It’s important to remember that in this phase, the images we show you are just conceptual for inspiration, and not actually the items that we will specify for your home. Telling us what you like and don’t like in these images is how we get a design that’s 100% authentic to you!
We will develop a presentation for each room, like the one above, that includes the color scheme, furniture styles, finishes and which pieces we plan on sourcing.
PRELIMINARY FURNISHINGS INVESTMENT
In tandem with the design concepts and space plans, we’ll develop a furnishings budget in the “good, better, best” investment levels. This gives you a realistic range of what it will cost to design your home in alignment with the design concepts.
Of course, we may opt to go ‘good’ on some pieces and ‘best’ on others, but the goal is to establish a firm investment up front. This prevents any surprises down the road (no one likes surprises!) and keeps everyone on the same page.
P.S. All decision makers should be present for your schematic presentation, and trust me — they’ll want to be!
Phase 2: Design Development
MATERIALS & FURNISHINGS SPECIFICATIONS
The design development phase of our design process is where we’ll really get down to business and bring the approved concept to life. If your project is a renovation or new build, we’ll focus first on all elements that impact the construction, from tile and flooring to plumbing and lighting.
We then dive into the furnishings, specifying all soft elements, from your furniture pieces to the perfect trim for your master bedroom draperies.
We also love designing custom pieces for our clients (pillows, sofas, draperies, etc.), and with our extensive library of fabrics and trims, the possibilities really are endless!
Before the design development phase is complete, we’ll have nailed down every last detail of the project for your review and approval…
Throughout the design process and especially with selections, we regularly reference the overall budget to make sure we’re staying within the agreed upon range. Once formal quotes are received, we’ll review pricing with you for the final approval to place orders.
We strongly believe our clients’ investments in their homes should be respected and managed strategically to return results that look and feel like they’re worth every penny. If you’ve entrusted us with your money, we intend to use it wisely!
For new builds, renovations, or any project that involves construction, we will develop construction documents. Depending on the needs of your project, these could include millwork drawings, reflected ceiling plans (RCPs), electrical and switch plans, plumbing elevations…the list goes on.
We also document all the selections from the last stage into Specification Schedules — which are like the holy grail to the build team. They include every last detail laid out neatly by material or fixture. (E.g. Each tile selection, location, installation instructions, grout color, special instructions, etc.)
Documents like these ensure that the underlying structure of your home (lighting, plumbing, etc.) upholds the design features you’ll want and love. For example, wiring for two gorgeous pendants to be installed over the new kitchen island.
Once the construction team has these documents, they’ll know exactly what to do and, again, we’re all on the same page!
Reflected Ceiling Plan for the first floor of one of our projects. Check out this level of detail! You’ll also notice an additional level of detail with the coffered ceilings in the kitchen and dining area (upper center and right), which is critical to ensure our plan keeps lights centered in these gorgeous millwork details.
Then, it’s time for the teams to move forward with bringing our vision to fruition, which brings us to Phases 3 and 4! But I’ll wrap it up here and save those for another post. 😉
If you’re getting ready to join us for these phases, we can’t wait to work with you. If you’re still considering a design project, our Interior Design Project Planner is the best place to start!
Until next week…