Let’s demystify the “Design Process”Without a doubt, the prospect of a home improvement project can be exciting for some, and daunting for others. Naturally, questions abound such as : Who is responsible for what? What does it cost? Do I have to pay for everything at once? etc.
Alas, don’t despair…call a designer! Here is a synopsis of the Design Process which applies to the smallest project [like selecting powder room colors], as it does to a full-scale renovation.
Step 1 – collect your thoughts and bring them to your first meeting.
This is the beginning of the process to help your designer understand what you like, and generally what you are looking for. You will need to bring information about what you have including photos of the existing space, inspiration photos of what you want and your budget range.
Step 2 – your designer and you work together on the “Problem Definition”.
In addition to the above items, your interior design problem[s] will be discussed at the meeting. It could be as simple as “I need a smart way to display my beautiful ceramic collection”. Designing is all about identifying problems and resolving them through purposeful planning and selection of appropriate materials, size, color, construction, etc. Your designer’s first important job is to listen carefully and ultimately play it all back to you in the form of a “Project Proposal”.
Step 3 – your designer translates the project objectives into a “Project Proposal”.
A Project Proposal is a written document which states all information gleaned so far, as well as the proposed design schedule, design fee and how the “Design Concept” will be presented to you. Count on 10-20% of your total budget for the design fee (on the low side of the range for big projects, and the high side for small projects) or an hourly fee for smaller projects . Most designers will require about 1/3rd of their total fee as a retainer – but only after the Project Proposal has been reviewed and approved by you. This is your assurance that you and your designer are on the same page.
Step 4 – your designer works to create the “Design Concept”.
Based on all of your information laid out so far, designers will immerse themselves into your project to formulate a Design Concept. They will measure and photograph your space, conduct research, interact with contractors, suppliers and specialists (e.g. structural engineer, lighting designer, architect etc.) as required to explore the range of possible solutions. They will interact with you to hone their understanding of your likes and dislikes. Next they will draw, brainstorm, create, search, laugh, cry…and ultimately your designer will make qualified decisions and selections for you.
Depending upon the size and complexity of your project, the Design Concept may be presented in the form of computer generated 3D color drawings, 2D floor plans, hand drawn sketches, product brochures/specifications, material samples and more. Your designer will not proceed until you have had time to think about everything they have especially created for you.
Step 5 – refinement and finalization - your designer works to gain your approval!
After you communicate any changes you want, your designer will make the changes to the drawings and specifications. These documents form the “Design Drawing & Specification Package”. This package is used in many ways including to obtain quotes, calculate quantities and get a permit. Once completed and approved by you, the Design Concept is ready to implement !
Step 6 – implementation and realization ...
At this point, either you or your designer can do this. For projects of any complexity, we strongly recommend you retain your designer to implement and manage the project ...so they can handle everything [e.g. purchasing, hiring the contractor, resolving issues, doing paperwork!]. Additionally, they have a set of preferred contractors and suppliers (companies they have established relationships with and hence get better prices from), which ensures the smoothest sailing possible.
Step 7 – enjoy your beautiful new space!
Now it's time to sit down and revel in the beauty of your new space, while sharing the physically and emotionally uplifting benefits with your visitors, pleased with the time and money you have saved, and the great value you have created - all by virtue of your important decision to hire a designer to help you with your project!