What does an interior designer do? And why working with one may be the right decision for you.
I recently had a call with a prospective client who had a lot of great questions about the interior design process. There are some calls I receive where people simply want to know some very high level basics, and that's okay too (I get it!), but this person truly wanted to understand the nuts and bolts of how everything works and it dawned on me that this would make a good blog post!
So, what does an interior designer actually do? And what is the value you'll get by working with a designer? Every firm has their own processes and ways of doing things, and there are many different services out there today. For example, there are many great "e-design" services where a designer doesn't have to be local and can fully design a room for you, send you a shopping list (and sometimes even take care of the ordering process) so that all you have to do is approve and install the design. Pretty easy right? This is a great option for someone who wants the expertise of a designer to ensure things like scale and proportion are correct, but would prefer to handle the procurement and install parts of the process. Then there is "full-service" design, which is the service Ursino Interiors offers. I'll be the first to admit that hiring a full-service designer is truly an investment and because of that, it is a big decision. It is also a big decision because you are putting the trust of your home into someone else's hands and that can feel....uncomfortable. But if are reading this and pondering if it is the right choice for you, or just simply want to know how the general process works, here is an overview:
Every project starts with an in-home consultation (this is a 2-hour working meeting) where we capture project scope & requirements, discuss budget, provide floorplan guidance, and chat through questions.
2. & 3. Contract & Project Commencement:
Then we take care of some housekeeping items - signing a contract, collecting a retainer, and officially kicking off!3. Trade Day: Next, we schedule a time to come to your home to take measurements and meet with our tradespeople who will be working on the project (maybe this is a window treatment workroom who we'll meet with to discuss the types of window treatments we'll be using, the millworker who will be building built-in's, or the project architect - this will differ depending on project scope), but we'll meet with each trade on the same day to maximize efficiency and ensure that everyone has the information they need to get started.
4 & 5. Design, Documentation, and Client Presentation:
This is where the good stuff happens! First, we really make sure we understand your lifestyle, your aesthetic, and your inspiration before beginning the design. This is a very important part of the process! Then we dive into the actual execution - this is where we select all the finishes, materials, furnishings, textiles, etc. and do the required drawings to be put together into a client presentation. This is also the part of the process where the budget is determined. I will note though, this isn't the first part of the project where we discuss budget. There is always a discussion very early on where we're able to provide high level ranges so that our clients know what to generally expect, but by the time we complete the client presentation we do arrive at an actual number.
6. & 7. Order Placement & Progress Review:
Once the design is approved, we begin procuring the goodies! We write up purchase orders for every product/item and ensure that orders are placed correctly, made correctly, and delivered correctly. It is a bit administrative, but it is a critical part of the process because this is where things can quickly go wrong if the ball is dropped - and unfortunately the ball does get dropped. Items get broken, or delayed, or made incorrectly more than I'd like to admit. We're dealing with humans here - people make mistakes, but one of the biggest values of working with a designer is all of that stress of trying to resolve whatever the issue may be is taken off of your plate. It is our job to resolve issues when they arise. Our vendors are an extended part of our team, and we specifically vet and work with vendors who we know will stand by their work. It is crucial to the success of our business and the happiness of our clients, so we take that very seriously.
8. & 9. Construction & Installation:
This is where things begin taking shape! Construction begins for projects that involve construction (and some don't and that's okay!) and then we begin installing furnishings. For furnishing related items, everything is delivered to a local warehouse, inspected, and then delivered to your home at one time.
Then we style and accessorize so everything looks complete - this is where the design really comes to life!
11. Client Reveal:
You finally get to see everything put together!
12. - 14. Identify/Resolve Deficiencies & Project Closure:
We wrap up any loose ends and present our clients with a close-out binder. The binder contains an overview of everything we've worked on together and cleaning instructions for all the goodies in their new home. I'm always thrilled to see a project fully come to life, but designing a home is such a personal experience and I really get to know clients well throughout the process (which I love!), so it is always a little bittersweet when a project ends.
Hopefully this helped shed some light on the general order of things...or at least Ursino Interiors' general order of things! Lord knows that not everything always perfectly fits into one of these steps, but I do think a framework is really important for keeping things moving and focused.
I'll end by saying that if you are flirting with the idea of working with a designer, it's important to see if you simply click with the person, whoever it may be. As I mentioned, designing a home is a very personal experience. You will spend a lot of time engaging with your designer (a lot!) and discuss things that can be uncomfortable (hmm hmm like the dreaded budget conversation), so having a personal connection is important! It makes the process more enjoyable and easier to deal with the little roadblocks that will inevitably arise :)
Feel free to drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions...or just to say hi!