A Look Inside the Design Process

Sometimes my clients are geniuses and give me GREAT ideas for the blog. I worked with a new couple recently and they suggested that I write about the design process itself: what it's like to hire a designer, what we talk about at meetings--basically how a room goes from concept to reality. I'm usually so caught up in the work itself that I never think to write about that part, so shout-out to them for reminding me. Since they chose one of my most popular flat-rate packages, let's dive into that.

(Sidebar: There are a zillion ways to approach a project, and not all designers offer the same services or options, but this will give you a general idea of what it's like.)

When I say "flat-rate package" I don't mean the boxes you get at the Post Office to ship Aunt Fern's birthday presents, though they are delightful. In this case I mean select services that are grouped together at a discounted rate. It's awesome for clients because it lets them get the help of a pro at an affordable price, and it's easy for designers because the package simplifies everything behind the scenes. There are no substitutions for the services; what you see is what you get. (That might sound minor but because decorating is so personal, it's a huge time saver to pre-select options--which helps keep the price down.)

One of their inspiration images.

One of their inspiration images.

These clients chose the Design Inspiration Package, which is intended to point you in the right direction and get your wheels turning. Here's a breakdown of the services they got over the course of 10-14 days:

1. An initial consultation in their home to discuss their functional needs, personal style, and scope of work. This included looking at inspiration images, measuring the space, and taking before photos.

2. A totally customized concept board that fits their style and budget. This may be a mixture of products, colors, and photos of existing spaces, depending on the project needs.

3. A design concept explaining all items in the concept board and how they work together.

4. A spreadsheet with all shopping links and relevant size/color information for all items on the concept board.

5. An optional second meeting to discuss the design concept in person. Concept board and spreadsheet will be delivered via email.

This package is intended to jump-start a client's creativity while leaving the details of the execution up to them. Some people order everything I recommend, others use the concept as a springboard while they shop on their own. Aside from the meetings, all communication happens over email.

Another inspiration image.

Another inspiration image.

Now that you've seen the overview, there are a couple of extras I need to mention. Item number one includes inspiration images, your personal style, and the functional needs of the space. Whether you work with me or another designer, all first meetings will cover that stuff. Since you're going to be chatting about those things right away, you need to have them ready BEFORE the consultation. Designers are there to guide you, but we need a base to build on and until our superpowers activate, we can't read your mind. You'll have to do a bit of homework to figure out what you like (and don't like!) before we start. Also make note of any furniture or fixtures that need to stay, and think about an overall budget.

This couple was on the ball and knew exactly what they wanted when we sat down. Which was good because their family room is basically an indoor stadium and needed all of THIS:

So much furniture! I mentioned above that some people order everything on the spreadsheet while others use it as a guidebook. These two did a mix; they got most of the furniture seen here, but they're going to scout accessories on their own. I'm really excited to see how the space looks in a few weeks when everything is delivered.

Here's how it is now:

They wanted me to tell you that they just moved in, which is why that poor old sofa is in there all alone. Sadface.

I'll have more about this room as soon as it's ready, hopefully by the end of the month. A Halloween gift to us all! Have you ever worked with a designer? Did you do a flat-rate package or a custom scope of work? Who's thinking about getting a room in order before the holidays?