I am so glad you asked! I use a tried and true 14-step process for all of my full-service projects and a shortened version for my online services. I provide a copy of the process in all of my client welcome packets, but since you’ve asked, I’m giving you a preview below.
I call this process tried and true because whenever I have strayed from it the likelihood of mistakes increases significantly and your satisfaction with the service you receive decreases dramatically. Time and experience have proven to me that sticking to this process ensures a seamless project execution where you know what is happening every step of the way!
14-Step Design Process
This document provides a detailed outline of the steps we will follow during your project. For online services the process follows steps 1 – 6, 8, & 14.
Consultation: The design consultation is the launching pad for every new project. During this first meeting we will discuss the scope of your project, your goals, and your budget. I’ll ask questions to learn about your tastes, your lifestyle, and how you intend to use the space. Please make sure all decision-makers are at this meeting. During the consultation, we will cover:
- The scope – We will review the scope of your project in detail. This will include all the rooms involved in the project, how you intend to use each room, and your ideas and goals for each space.
- Aesthetics and lifestyle – I’ll ask lots of questions and we’ll look at pictures to focus in on your tastes. I may have you do a quick image quiz or have you send me images from House or Pinterest if I’m still not sure about your personal aesthetic preferences. This will only take a few minutes, but will save any misunderstanding about your
- Budget – It’s best to work out your finances and set an overall budget before you begin the project. If you are unsure about where to begin, I will work with you to determine your goals and set a realistic budget for your space. I also have included a helpful handout about typical costs for various pieces of furniture. Design fees are calculated separately from the budget.
- Design process and letter of agreement – We will review the design process in detail and go over a sample letter of agreement, so you know how things will proceed every step of the way.
- Contact person assigned – If there is more than one decision-making adult in the household, you will assign one to be the contact person for the project. This person will be named in the letter of agreement as having authority to make decisions and sign off on work orders on behalf of both parties. This will also be the person I will have direct contact with and receive direction from during the project. Because it is not always possible to meet with both people at the same time, the contact person will be responsible for communicating any ideas or decisions to his or her partner. We will address any questions you might have about Paradigm Interiors or about your project.
Letter of Agreement Signed and Deposit Paid: Shortly after the initial consultation you will receive a letter of agreement. The letter of agreement will detail the scope of the project, fee structure, policies and procedures, and designer and client responsibilities. Along with signing the letter, you will be required to pay a deposit or retainer fee. This will be credited against any outstanding invoices. If there are two decision-making adults in the household both parties will be required to sign the letter. Once the signed letter and deposit are received by me, we will move forward to the next step.
Site Measure & Trades Day: This day normally occurs within two weeks after the contract is received. I will take detailed measurements and photographs of all the spaces involved in your project. Where appropriate, I will also arrange to have the trades people who will be working on your project come in and take their own measurements for estimating purposes. While this is a busy day, it saves time down the road. Over the course of the project we will bring in any additional trades as necessary.
This step is slightly different in online packages. You will be doing the measuring in this step and you will be using trade professionals in your local area. However, this step will need to happen in every project!
Floor Plan: Strategic space planning is crucial to a well-designed space. After all the measurements have been taken, I will develop floor plans or architectural renderings when necessary. Floor plans allow us to determine what can fit in a space, how it is arranged, and the scale of each piece. The amount of time this takes will vary depending on the scale of your project. We will schedule a meeting during which we’ll review each floor plan and discuss the benefits of each. It is helpful to have all decision makers at this meeting. For projects without furniture purchases this step may not be necessary.
Design Scheme: Once we have decided on a floor plan, the next step is to create the design scheme. This starts with developing a color scheme and sourcing fabrics, furniture, fixtures and materials. Custom furniture and built-ins are designed and finishes chosen, which may include: flooring, counters, wall tile, wall coverings, and cabinetry. Window treatments are designed and fabrics, trims, and hardware are chosen. A lighting plan is developed and lighting fixtures are chosen. Drawings, samples, and pictures are gathered. Pricing information is researched and documented. This is where the design plan really comes together and every detail is considered. At the end of this process, you will be presented with carefully edited selections that represent the best choices for your space. Throughout this step there will be a fair amount of communication; there may be intermediate meetings to discuss certain elements of the design. Creating the design scheme is a time-consuming process and may require several weeks, depending on the scope of your project.
Presentation and Sign-Off: Once the design scheme is ready, a presentation meeting will be scheduled. All decision-makers must be at this meeting. We will go through the design in detail, and you will be presented with fabrics, drawings, photos, and samples for each element in the design. For some elements, you’ll be presented with two or three options. You will also be given a budget outlining the cost of each item. During the meeting, you’ll provide feedback, and we’ll narrow down the options to the best one for each element. If there are items that need to be re-sourced, we’ll discuss the steps involved with that. By the end of the meeting, we should have a complete design scheme that meets your approval. If you still need time to consider your options, you’ll have a week to mull things over. If you want to see, touch, feel or sit on some of your furniture options we can arrange a field trip. Timely approval of the design scheme is crucial for maintaining accurate pricing and ensuring the availability of some design elements (fabrics or antiques, for example). If the design is not approved in a timely manner, there may be additional costs associated with replacing items that are no longer available. Once the design has been approved and all elements are finalized, we can begin executing the design.
Scheduling: A time-table is developed for ordering items, trade work, and final installation. This schedule will be adjusted along the way to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. Please be aware that most projects take several weeks or months to complete. The lead time on custom furniture can be 6-12 weeks, which will affect the final installation date. However, while we wait for furnishings to
Work Orders & Purchasing: Before any trades are hired or items are purchased on your behalf, you will receive a work order that details the work to be done or item to be purchased along with all known associated costs. Work orders are the safety net to make sure we stay on the same page throughout the design execution and nothing gets purchased without your approval. You will receive two copies of each work order – one for your records, and one that you will sign and return to me with an upfront payment for merchandize. Payment must be made in full when the work order is approved. Any outstanding balance on each order will be due within 10 days of order placement.
Trades Begin Work: If there is work to be done by trades, it will be scheduled to begin as soon as possible. Although I am not a general contractor, I am your project manager. I will manage the scheduling and collaborate with the trade professionals to make sure the design is executed properly and with the highest quality workmanship. I will also handle payments to the trade professionals, but you will be directly invoiced from the professionals and all payments will be made directly to the professionals.
Follow-up: As your project manager, I will stay on top of the details and make sure work by trade professionals is underway and has been satisfactorily completed. I will address all concerns, complete all orders, make all payments, manage the schedule, and make sure no detail has been overlooked. We’ll schedule a brief meeting near the end of the project to review the project, identify any outstanding items, or address any needed changes.
Installation & Styling: This is where our vision becomes reality. After all trade professional work has been completed I will schedule the furniture for delivery, and schedule window treatment installation. Then, I will schedule a day to put on the finishing touches and stage the room. This will include putting down the rugs, placing accessories, and hanging art. If it can be arranged, I have it all done on the same day so you get that “wow” effect when you come home. I might also have a professional photographer take pictures of your home. Styling is what elevates your space to magazine quality status. It refers to adding those finishing touches and follows a different process than the rest of the design. Before the installation I’ll go to several stores and choose various accessories for your space. This could include art, lamps, throws, vases, candles, and other types of accessories. On installation day, they’ll be placed throughout your space. I’ll provide you with the cost of each item and you’ll have a day or two to decide what you want to keep. You’ll pay for what’s staying and I’ll return anything you don’t want.
Punch List: A punch list consists of all the little things at the end of a project that are left outstanding or need attention (such as paint touch-ups or a missing lamp). We’ll go through each room together and compile the list. I’ll arrange to have each thing on the list addressed as quickly and efficiently as possible. If there’s something that’s not right, don’t worry… I’ll make sure it gets taken care of and you won’t be left high and dry.
Miscellaneous and Extras: This step is the catch-all for all the “while we’re at it we might as well…” things that get added to the to-do list throughout the project. These items will be handled in conjunction with the original project but will be budgeted and invoiced under a separate agreement as an addendum to the original Letter of Agreement. No additional work will be started without a signed agreement. Wherever possible, additional work will be fit in to the schedule to maximize on time and materials.
Relax, settle in, enjoy and live beautifully!