A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO AN INTERIOR DESIGN PROJECT
The interior design world has always been mysterious. That rings true for clients and other designers. For years, professionals kept their processes secret from competitors. In the age of social media, blogs, vlogs, and podcasts, a wealth of knowledge has been shared amongst the design community. However, this content comes from industry-known sources, not from ones the everyday home or business owner regularly sees. Which means the most common question from new interior design clients is still, "So, what's the process?"
The truth is, not all designers will approach a project the same or have a clear, laid out plan. Therefore, we can't speak for the entire industry. We can, however, share the steps Beyond Interior Design works through so you can gain a general understanding of the interior design process.
CONSULTATION The first step to any project is the consultation. At this appointment, the designer walks through the space (if accessible) and creates a baseline scope of what the clients would like to accomplish. This is also the first opportunity the designer can provide valuable information specific to the project.
CONTRACT After the consultation, if the project seems like a good fit, both parties sign a contract. A fee or retainer is usually collected at this time.
TRADES DAY Now that the designer has onboarded the client, it's go time! The design team heads back to the project site to obtain measurements, capture before photos, and finalize any other criteria. The team also schedules tradesmen to come out and propose very rough estimates of cost and doability (for example, if raising the ceiling was in your scope list, the designer would schedule roofers to come and determine if that's even possible.)
DESIGN AND DOCUMENTATION This stage is where the magic happens! The designer now has everything they need to do what they do best — design. While creating the floor plan and renderings, the designer also sources goods (furnishings and materials) and services during this stage. Once the drawings have been executed, estimates can be procured.
PRESENTATION The design comes to life in the presentation stage. Here, the designer reveals their concept to the client, providing 3D renderings, samples of materials, and cost estimation.
ORDERING AND BUDGET REVIEW Once the design team gets the go-ahead, it's time to purchase the furnishings and decor. A responsible designer will keep an eye on the budget so they can notify clients if anything changes drastically (i.e. price or availability of items and how that affects budget).
CONSTRUCTION AND RENOVATION This stage can occur simultaneously with the ordering and will also undergo budget review throughout the progression of the renovation/construction. (Simple renovations like wallpapering and painting occur during this stage, as any changes to a room's surfaces must occur prior to installation.)
INSTALLATION After completion of construction, it's time for Installation Day! This is when all the purchased goods are brought into the house and placed according to the design concept. Additionally, the designer will often bring styling items that the client can purchase if they like the aesthetic the decor creates. It may help some clients to view Installation Day as the final design day. Unless changes are made, the only other step is to close out the project. Basically, the installation is the climax of the process.
DEFICIENCIES The designer and client will walk through the new space once the installation is complete. The client will identify any deficiencies, and the design team will resolve them as soon as possible.
PROJECT CLOSURE The last step in the design process is the project closure meeting. Here, the designer and client will meet one last time to receive their project binder and final invoices. Afterward, the only thing left for the client to do is to enjoy their newly designed modern space!
Our process may seem simple, but we can't stress this enough — it's definitely not. Starting from the design stage and intensifying during project management, we're immersed in a complex game of Tetris, and every little piece has to fit together perfectly. Mess one up and it takes several more moves to get back on track. That's why the process exists in the first place, to help organize all the moving parts and keep us working efficiently for our clients. It truly does take a dedicated professional and their team to execute an effective design process, and we strive for that every day.
WANT TO LEARN HOW TO BUDGET FOR YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN PROJECT?
Furniture and decor stores like West Elm, Crate and Barrel, and IKEA dominate their market for a reason — they create attractive showrooms and catalogs that allow consumers to easily purchase their curated designs. All one simply needs to do is find a room they like through one of the store's "inspiration" sources, and they can purchase everything pictured, from the sofa and coffee table to the wall art and floor planter. These stores make it extremely convenient for people wanting a DIY interior makeover.
When it comes to designs for the individual, however, these brand-name stores fall short. They appeal to the masses, that's simply their nature. And that's ok because every piece in one's home doesn't have to be custom-made. In fact, incorporating a few unique, eye-catching pieces is all it takes to personalize a space.
Where do you find such items? Local shops.
Located in Dallas's Preston Hollow neighborhood, the curated modern art and decor store, Kasart, offers a variety of pieces sure to transform one's room. When customers shop here, they know they're receiving something special, as owner and interior designer Mariana Tagle only sources "items that are different and not easily accessible or too commercial."
The Peruvian designer moved to Dallas seven years ago, quickly making the modern aesthetic her market niche. Her professional background and travels around the world helped shape her cosmopolitan taste, and she wanted to share this with the Texas city. "In the past, Dallas had been built and decorated in a more traditional style," Mariana said. But she found clients to be extremely excited about "bringing contemporary life into their homes," and the success of her client consultations drove her to want more. So after six years of balancing a design business, her three children’s busy schedules, and waiting for the perfect location, Mariana opened her dream store, Kasart, in May 2019.
The inspiration behind Kasart was Mariana's desire to offer clients an opportunity to add a modern twist to any space. "I believe your home should be a place that brings you joy and nothing brings more joy than being surrounded by beauty. This doesn’t mean everything has to be modern but adding a few pieces can really elevate one's decor."
She carefully curates her collection, selecting pieces that are unique and full of personality. The art she brings in comes from "artists who are growing their presence so it’s a quality investment for the clients."
It's hard to find personality and uniqueness in your staple home and decor stores, which is why it's so important to branch out and visit your local shops like Kasart. We hope this Shop Talk has inspired you to do just that!
In our previous post, we discussed how to set a reasonable budget for your interior decor and furnishing project. For those of you seeking help on setting your remodel budget, you probably felt a little left out. Well, guess what — in Part II of How to Set Your Interior Design Budget, you’re our main focus!
Budgeting for a remodel is more complex than a refurnishing project simply because the cost of labor and materials aren't straightforward and readily available online. So we won't be helping you reach a reasonable number this week. Instead, we'll point out all the details that go into remodeling your space so you can see how each step of the process will affect your budget. Kitchens and bathrooms are typically the most costly and complicated, so those will be our main focus in this post, but we'll also cover general elements that apply to all jobs.
One of those common elements is the domino effect. For all projects, big or small, changing one thing often leads to changing something else. This could be out of necessity or for design continuity. The domino effect is often the most overlooked and costly part of a redesign. Therefore, it's always good to think about how one change will affect another element in that space or the spaces around it so you can budget appropriately.
People often get caught up in the cost of materials (cabinets, countertops, flooring), but the cost of labor greatly impacts a project's budget. When making any considerable changes to a property, numerous tradesmen will be brought in at different stages of the project (i.e. plumber, tile setter, carpenter, electrician, demolition team, etc.). To overlook the subcontractors and organize the project timeline, a general contractor is needed. Each trade will have labor costs on top of the materials, and a general contractor will apply an additional 10-30% upcharge for project management.
The factors that alter overall cost get even more detailed and specific depending on the project, so to help you see how those aspects (as well as the domino effect and labor) come into play, we'll break down every major element of a kitchen and bathroom remodel and expose the areas that'll greatly affect your budget.
The first question to ask yourself when it comes to cabinets is do you want custom or standard? Custom cabinets are exactly as they sound, they’re built custom to fit your space. Standard cabinets can vary in terms of height and setup (i.e. drawers, shelves, lazy susan), but the sizes are set. In wall-to-wall configurations, standard installations often require filler pieces to close the gaps created by the cabinets not being built specifically for that space. Hence why custom cabinets are preferred for a seamless design. If custom is your preferred route, budget anywhere from $15K to $100K, depending on craftsmanship and size of kitchen.
Cabinet finish also affects cost. Laminate and veneer come with a higher price tag, so people commonly choose paint. However, if selecting this option, you should also take into account the cost of hiring a painter, as cabinet installers usually don’t cover that service.
When it comes to countertops, people often assume marble is the top-shelf of stone materials. In reality, the type of stone matters less (in terms of cost) than appearance. For example, an exotic granite slab will have a higher price tag than a simple marble one.
If the kitchen you’re remodeling is open or you’d like to open it up to another room, you must take into account the surrounding space. Once the two (or more) areas are combined, so are all encompassing elements. For example, we were hired to redesign someone’s open-concept kitchen in their Dallas condo. However, updating just the kitchen and not addressing the outdated style of the dining and living rooms would’ve created a discontinuity in the great space. We ended up redesigning the entire area to promote a continuous aesthetic throughout the space. Therefore, if you’re planning on having an open layout by the end of your remodel, we’d recommend also budgeting for updates to the adjoining space(s).
If moving major appliances, like an electric range or refrigerator, an electrician will need to be brought on board. Electric ranges require a special 240V outlet, which will need to be professionally installed in the appliance's new location. Fridges, on the other hand, operate on standard 110/120V outlets, but a professional needs to ensure an outlet is in the right position and the power comes from its own circuit. A plumber will also need to be involved in moving the water line to accommodate the refrigerator’s water hook-up.
If you’re considering moving your sink or installing one in an island, this will also require the labor of a plumber. And when plumbing is affected, your walls (or flooring for the island) are too because your plumber will need to reconfigure the plumbing lines. So if you weren’t originally budgeting for drywall work or new floors, you might end up needing to. Can you see the domino effect at work here?
As mentioned earlier, the cost of stone countertops varies more on exoticness of the stone versus the material. The big thing you need to consider when replacing your bathroom countertop is whether or not they want to replace the cabinets as well. You may not mind your current cabinetry, but the question is do you like it enough to keep for years to come. It’s important to consider this because once the stone countertop is placed, the cabinets can’t easily be changed.
If you do decide to change your cabinets, good news! Unless you’re stretching your cabinets from wall-to-wall or have a very particular design in mind, you can use standard cabinets from places like Wayfair, Ikea, or Lowe's.
Changing your finishes, such as tub or shower hardware, isn’t as simple as it seems. The tub or shower system must match up with the valve placed by the plumbers, or you will have to install a new valve. In which case, a plumber’s services will be needed. Just as discussed in the kitchen section, if plumbing is affected, tile on the floor or walls most likely will be, too. The seemingly simple switch from silver finishes to brass is no longer so simple.
The first question you need to ask yourself when trying to budget for your shower/tub remodel is do you even want both? More and more people are opting out of having baths to make room for more luxurious showers. If you have the room and want both, the next question is do you want it built-in or have it stand alone? Often, people think stand-alones are more expensive because they see the big price tag on the tub itself. However, if you want a built-in, you must also consider the framing of the tub and materials around it, in addition to the construction and installation labor.
Showers are arguably more complex because everything is customized — the wall and floor materials, placement of shower system, glass or no glass, built-in shelf or seat. Every custom element requires a different trade. Of course, a plumber will need to be involved to install the shower system. A tile-setter will be responsible for wall and floor finishes. But before tile can be set, a concrete pourer must pour the concrete shower pan and waterproof it. A lot of trades for such a small space — we know!
Unlike other rooms throughout the house, there’s a larger variety of wall finishes used in bathrooms. Besides just paint and wallpaper, tiles, laminate, acrylic, and stone are all used in the high-moisture rooms. Here, the mode you select will affect your overall budget, depending on material and cost of labor to install (i.e. a tile-setter will accrue more hours than someone applying wallpaper).
If this sounds like a lot, that's because it is! Remodel projects are complex and involved, which is why it's so hard to accurately budget for them. Hopefully, though, after reading Part II of How to Set your Interior Design Budget, you feel enlightened and can confidentially approach your remodel budget with an informed perspective.
Whether you're building a home, remodeling your new commercial space, or updating that early 2000's kitchen, it's hard to know where to start when setting your interior design project's budget. You may know how much you'd like to spend, but don't know if that number is even feasible.
To be honest, it's probably not.
Now, don't think we say that to scare you — we say that to prepare you. As interior designers, it's our job to set cost expectations, and the earlier we can do that, the better. Imagine if you went to get your tires changed for the first time, expecting each tire to cost $20, and when you get there the serviceman informs you it'll be $100 instead. You're frustrated because you didn't prepare for this. It was your first time purchasing new tires, afterall. And the serviceman was just charging industry standard. But because the expectation didn't meet reality, you end up having a negative experience. That's why it's better to prepare you earlier rather than later.
So, how can you, the client, prepare a realistic budget before even approaching a designer? That's what we'll help you with in this two-part post. In Part I, we'll cover interior design budgeting for decor and furnishings.
1. PICK THE ROOM
This may seem obvious, but the first step is picking the room you want to redesign. You may only have one room, but if you have an entire house you should look at each room individually instead of grouping everything together. This will make the following steps much easier.
2. LIST OUT ITEMS
Look at your room and create a spreadsheet of all the possible items that would go in there. The most critical will be the items you probably don't think of — paint or wallpaper, hardware (i.e. curtain hardware, towel racks, etc.), art, accessories, rugs, pillows/pillowcases, plants and planters. If you have an inspiration photo from Pinterest or elsewhere, list all the items in that photo even if you think it's too much. It's better to overshoot then underestimate.
3. RANDOMLY SELECT ITEMS AT STORES YOU LIKE
Once you have your room's purchase list, head on over to your favorite home store's website (or in person if that's your thing). Take your list and randomly select items from that store that check each box. For example, if you've listed "king bed", price out a random king bed. The idea is to get a general budget, not a specific one. Specifics won't be needed at this point since you'll be entrusting your interior designer to make the best selections later on. Another benefit to the exercise is that it allows you to see how each item adds to the total cost.
4. DESIGNER FEES AND INSTALLATION
Remember, you're not only buying new furnishings, but you've also hired a designer to create your interior's concept. There will also be an "installation day" — the day designers and crew come in to install your new furnishings. The cost of these services will vary based on the designer's cost structure, but make sure you consider each before finalizing your budget.
5. FINALIZE YOUR BUDGET
After working through your spreadsheet and considering service fees, estimate what your interior design project will cost. This will give you a reasonable budget. From here, you can finalize the budget you'll take to your interior designer.
We understand the reasonable budget will most likely be higher than your desired budget, and that's ok. If the difference is slight, you can discuss this with your designer. Maybe it's too far out of range for you, in which case an e-design route could be optimal (this option has minimal service fees, as the purchasing and installation are left to the client).
Whatever you choose to do once you've calculated your budget, at least you'll have made an informed decision!
STICK AROUND FOR NEXT WEEK!
Catch next week's Part II, budgeting for a remodel/new build.
It's a true joy working with new clients, getting to learn their unique personalities and styles and designing specifically for them. Yet, there's something special about getting to work with return clients. We know their design style and what they like, but we also get to see how their preferences have slightly evolved based on how their lives have changed.
Project Northcrest came to us from our very first client. At the time, she'd always wanted a modern house, and that's exactly what we gave her. In 2016, her life had grown, as had her family and their needs, and she was looking for more space and a home closer to her kids' schools.
She brought us in the loop prior to them even searching for homes. She wasn't sure if they were going to build or buy but she knew we'd be brought in for the interior design work.
Three months after they purchased the house, she sent us an update that they'd bought a house and shared the photos with us. It was a beautiful family home, but was French Country through and through — this was NOT her style at all. But for her, the home was all about location, location, location. Everything else, she knew, could be customized to her taste. And it was.
We sourced the kitchen through Porcelanosa, with the custom-built cabinets done by Supreme Design of Dallas. The tile for the master bath also came from Porcelanosa, which gave the space a sleek, European modernity.