I don’t know why you’d want to but apparently there is more than one way to skin a cat. There is also more than one way for an interior designer to design a room. If I’m lucky my starting point is a piece of furniture, or artwork or fabric that the customer really likes and I can use to build on. Or they might show me a picture of a hotel room they once stayed in, or of a room in a magazine that they fell in love with and wanted to replicate. But most of the time they get me in because they want to change the room but don’t know what they want or where to start and would like me to figure it out for them. I don’t have a preference for any of these approaches. Each new job is a challenge, and that’s what I love.
Personally I think you’d be surprised how reasonable my fees are, but I appreciate that any amount would be too much for some so I thought I’d share how I go from zero to interior design hero so you can give it a go yourselves.
Be your own Interior Designer
Step One – Discovery
I’ve been both a Product Development Manager and a Project Manager so I’m used to following processes in order to guarantee results, and Interior Design is no different. There has to be an information-gathering phase at the outset, which in Project Management is called Discovery. The more information you gather and interpret, the more prepared you will be, and the more likely you are to deliver something the customer will love, on time and on budget.
In interior design my discovery process starts with a free consultation so I can figure out what the customer would like me to do (the scope) so I can give them a quote. If they want to go ahead I then measure up and take a more detailed brief. This brief differs by room but I cover everything – style, colours, furniture, flooring, heating, lighting, windows and doors, soft furnishings, artwork and accessories. Kitchens and bathrooms are even more detailed as I get into things like mixer taps versus separate taps, one shower outlet or multiple, gas versus electric etc. etc. My goal is to get the design right first time so I ask a lot of questions to make this achievable.
I either agree a budget with them there and then, or produce an estimate based on the brief so that we can agree a budget.
Step 2 – Layout
The brief will have included how the room will be used and any furniture that is staying or needed so I use this to work out the best layout. I also ask about traffic patterns, which is how people will move around and through the space, as this dictates how much space in the room is left over for furniture.
Step 3 – Colour Palette
I always ask customers what colours they like and don’t like when I take the brief. But I often share images with them afterwards, and encourage them to do the same to validate what they tell me. It’s amazing how often this uncovers unexpected preferences. I then start looking for paint colours that I think they will like. I buy so many paint samples I’m on first name terms with all the staff at my local retailers.
If we are going to be installing wood (or wood effect) flooring or other joinery, I also start looking at wood tones that I think meet the brief.
Step 4 – Key Furniture Pieces
If I’m working on a living room I usually start with the sofa, as this will be the major purchase, (although this can be the fire). If it’s a bedroom I start with the bed, and if it’s a dining room I start with the table and chairs. Finding the key pieces first will save you time in the long run, I guarantee it.
When it comes to sofas the customer has to sit on them before we buy so I figure out which retailers are within an acceptable driving distance and then put pictures of suggested sofas online for them to look at to narrow down the choices before they (or we) get in the car.
Once we’ve picked a sofa and what it will be upholstered in I can finalise the layout and crack on with everything else.
Step 5 – Everything else
Step 6 – Bringing it all together