Assembling a design team is the first step on the journey. If you're working on a ground up project, an Architect, Interior Designer, and a general contractor form the basic team. Each will have an array of sub-contractors for their specific area of expertise that they have worked with and who will provide quality workmanship. Bringing these professionals in at the beginning to present their particular perspective is a valuable asset. If you are working on an existing space, the team may be smaller. If there are no structural changes or additions, an Architect and a general contractor may not be necessary. The range of necessary sub-contractors will be in the scope of the interior designer.
If you are starting from the ground up, building an addition, or reworking an existing space all the first questions are the same.
- What will the space be used for?
- Who will occupy it?
- What are the special needs or expectations?
- What is the budget?
- How long will it take to complete?
The thoroughness in which these questions are answered will determine the success of the completed project. A client needs to have an idea of the answers to these questions at the initial meeting.
We begin with a floor plan. How the space is to be laid out. How the rooms are arranged in relationship to each other to function for the client. This is developed into rooms with actual dimensions, placement of windows and doors. If you are using furnishings that you already own this is a good time for the interior designer to take an inventory and do a preliminary furniture plan to make sure everything fits properly. At this time room dimensions can be adjusted, doors and windows tweaked of a perfect fit.
This is also the time to review the placement of electrical outlets and switches, computer connections, security systems and thermostats. Imagine yourself living in each room to make sure that you have identified every needs.
The next step is finish specification . The treatment of every surface needs to be decided. these decisions depend on the style of the project (is it an open or closed plan? Is it formal, causal, or somewhere in between), the durability factor.
The next range of questions deals with what possessions need to be incorporated into the design, what needs to be refurbished or adapted. We lay out a floor plan to use existing pieces of furniture, specifying built-ins, and deciding what future purchases are necessary. With this collection of information we begin to collect flooring samples, tile, carpet, wood.
This is a work back and forth process, one decision may change one that you had made previously, that's why it is a good idea to get these decisions made up front for a smoother construction process.
Small adjustments for handicapped or the aging can enhance quality of life for little cost.
On a project using an architect, door, window styles and moldings may be specified in the drawings. You may be given a range of choices within the style of the structure. Always feel free to ask for a physical sample of any thing you cannot visualize, or to verify that the finished product is what you selected. You will have a variety of possibilities and styles to choose from and and a wide range cost options. The style of the project may dictate whether these elements are painted or stained or that may be an option that you select based on the advice of your professional. There will be a cost difference between paint grade or stain grade products.
Lighting is a crucial issue that is often not given the attention it deserves,It affects every aspect of the project. Areas where natural lighting can be used conserves energy. General lighting needs to work well when natural light is unavailable and should be placed on dimmers. Special lighting is needed for specific tasks. Accent lighting is an added layer highlight art and special areas.
Selecting a general color scheme is the next step. Most clients have a general idea of what colors they feel comfortable with. That's a good place to start. If your project is new construction you need to pick the flooring and the hard surfaces first. These can be a broad selection gathering materials that appeal to you such as wood floors or granite tops, this is an exploratory phase. Eliminating things that you don't like is as important as narrowing the scope of things you do like.
Deciding on finishes is where many clients get the most frustrated because of the unlimited possibilities and price ranges. An Interior designer can help guide you through these perilous waters. It is important that these elements create a continuity and a visual flow through out the project.
First decide what product you are using where, carpet in the bedrooms, wood in the living areas, granite for the counter tops in the kitchen etc.
With your general color theme in mind began to select options that appeal to you. Keep this limited to things you really like. As you compare how they coordinate with each other you will begin to narrow your choices to a unified group of surfaces that will create a strong visual foundation for your space.
Next begin to select wall finishes in the general color scheme. As this process continues will began to see the entire design evolve into your personal vision. Take your time and enjoy the process. If you become confused or frustrated, walk away for a while and come back with fresh eyes, the flaws will become more obvious and eliminated to make way for better options. The process is one of adding and subtracting until you arrive at a pleasing and livable design. At this phase it is important to consider maintenance and durability issues. These issues can add years of life to your project as well as reduce cost to maintain.
The furniture layout needs to be done early in the design process. It is important to bring your interior designer in at the beginning to anticipate needs from the very beginning. As soon as the the rooms sizes are determined existing furniture needs to be drawn on the plan. This will determine whether the furniture fits the room and whether adjustments need to be made. This is the time to consider floor plugs and check out the placement of other plugs. Next check window and door placement does every thing work, does every thing fit. Paper changes are much less expensive than changing furniture.
The furniture plan includes existing elements as well a new additions that are necessary. This is the point that fabric selections are introduced. Fabrics are coordinated with hard surface selections and paint colors. They can be ordered on new pieces as well as on existing ones giving new life to heirlooms or things you already own. Tables an storage are added with finishes selected to coordinate with the entire scheme.
It's time for a final review of all elements to be sure you have the desired flow or contrast creating your total look. This may consist of a design board or samples of all your selections. Make any adjustments or changes bringing the design to perfection meeting your highest expectations. This is the time to spend time thinking, imagining, feeling the textures. If you have any questions or misgivings discuss them with your designer. She can make alternate suggestions or talk you through your misgivings so that you are confident in your choices. When the design comes together you will see it. It's that "A Ha" feeling that makes you feel excited about living in the space.
If you have lived on the planet any time at all you have probably acquired objects and art that you love or that have special meaning.
The icing on the cake, these are the the items that make the space your own. They project who we are, where we've been and what is important to us. These are items that you have collected over your time. This is a continual process and now that you have a new space you will have holes to fill. Enjoy this journey.