The design process is tedious. Well, up front it’s exciting. It goes something like this:
- You hire your designer. It’s so exciting. He/she has fantastic ideas.
- You get your drawings and boards and you can just see the magazine perfect home of your dreams taking shape.
- You get the proposal and after your done choking a little bit at the price tag, you decide it’s totally worth it and you press the “go” button
- Then… it’s a lot…of…waiting…
- ..and..more waiting…
- You feel abandoned, but you’re still getting bills from the designer!!
- You start wondering, “Why is this taking so long!!”
I’m not sure if anyone has ever used the exact words, “Why is this taking so long,” but heaven knows it’s been written on the face of every single client with whom I have worked, even when I think I’ve set pretty good expectations of how the process works. Nonetheless, the process is slow and there is a period of time where it feels like it will never end.
It does end and when the final reveal happens its always well worth the wait, but let’s look at the top three reasons interior design projects take so darn long…
Reason #1: People, people who need people are the slo-oh-west people in the world…
Isn’t that how the song goes? No? Well, it should be. Most interior design projects involve multiple trades and craftsmen. The more human hands that need to touch your project, the longer it’s going to take because there is a lot of coordination involved. Let’s take a great room (kitchen, family room, breakfast nook) remodel for example. If we were to do a full kitchen remodel, wall coverings, window treatments, lighting, furnishings, and accessories, then there will be no less than 10 different groups of professionals and no less than 10-15 vendors involved in the project. For example, the designer (pro #1) will work with the following trade pros:
- Contractor/carpenter to install the cabinets, backsplash, and any flooring
- Counter surface installer
- Wall covering installer
- Window treatment work room (at least one)
- Window treatment installer
- Receiving and delivery warehouse
- Her design assistant or a handyman
For every trade, there is usually a vendor to work with who will supply equipment. In this case, those would be:
- Cabinet vendor
- Appliance vendor
- Tile vendor
- Counter vendor
- Paint vendor
- Lighting vendor
- Art Vendor(s)
- Accessories vendor(s)
- Fabric Vendor(s)
- Furniture Vendor(s)
With me those last three are likely to be numerous because I pull from many sources for my designs, which gives every room a rich, curated look.
Reason #2: Follow my lead
Lead times are the amount of time between ordering a product and delivery. Lead times vary depending on how high-end and custom the products are. Typically, cabinets and custom furniture have the longest lead times, which is usually 4-8 weeks. Other furniture can take a week or two, but when purchased wholesale, as most designer do, the furniture makes a pit stop at a receiving warehouse. Delivery of all of the furniture will be scheduled for one day. Therefore, if you have a mix of custom and non-custom furniture, all of your furniture will be delivered after everything arrives. And forget it if something comes damaged! That extends your lead time by at least 2 weeks.
Then, there is a systematic order to completing the project. It begins with the design process, the exciting part, and goes into the demolition and construction phases. The demolition happens first, which can’t happen until the cabinets have arrived and been inspected. Then, the rebuild of the kitchen, which will include the electrical and plumbing work. The final pieces of the kitchen remodel are the installation of the counter and then the backsplash. After the remodeling portion is complete, the painters will paint the entire great room area and the wall coverings can be installed. Finally, the furniture, rugs, art and accessories can be installed.
If any one of these pieces is delayed, the whole project goes off course.
Reason #3: Stuff Happens
Murphy’s law, right? When you have this many humans working on a project together, stuff is just going to happen. And I know you know what “stuff” I mean…
I have yet to work on a project where everything was perfect. I listen to the podcasts of top notch multi-million dollar a year designers who’ve been in business for 30 years and you know what they say? Stuff happens. Stuff happens on every project. Even with a sound design process, stuff happens.
Sometimes trade pros have conflicts so they can’t show up on schedule. Sometimes they have to back out of the job. Items show up damaged. Colors don’t turn out right. Vendors don’t put the correct information on an item. Warehouses lose things. Stuff happens, but in the end everything gets done, maybe not on the anticipated timeline, but they’re done and the end result is beautiful.
The best I can do is hold my clients’ hands through the process, reassure them, and try to give them the best experience even with all the “stuff” that can happen.