As an interior design I hear on a regular basis what does an interior designer actually do. I believe we get this question because there is this image out there of a fancy dressed person prancing around with a cocktail in their hand pointing and demand things to be done while spending the client’s money as fast as possible. This is definitely not what really goes on but it is what makes good television. What really goes on in our daily life well it is not so glamorous. It is a lot of number crunching, sketching, problem solving, and hot construction sites. This doesn’t sound like the image you had in mind does it? I thought I would walk everyone through the design process and what an interior designer actually does from conceptions to implementation.
The first thing we do is meet with the client to understand their needs, wants and budgets. Our goal during this meeting is to be able to get inside the head of the client/clients and determine what essentials verse wants need to go into the project. We are also asking questions and determining the style of the client. If there are multiple clients such as in a commercial space or if it is a married couple it is determining how we need to balance the styles of the entire team for the best outcome.
The next step is to head back to the office and start working on the project. If it is new construction that means sketching and drawing the beginning plans for the space. If it is redesigning or remodeling that means also sketching and drawing the plans but there is usually a footprint to be working off of. No matter what the project it always needs to start with an inspiration. This can be a picture, a piece of fabric, an architectural feature, or simply a feeling that needs to be created.
Once the drawings are done elements need to be added. These are the architectural features things like built ins, columns, arches, moldings, and wainscoting. We also need to select flooring, cabinetry, fixtures and all items that need to go in during construction. These elements are then added to the drawings and specs for the plans.
Once all structural elements are selected it is time to select the decorative elements. These are the things that take the space from a shell to a home/office/shop. This includes window treatments, furnishings, paint colors, wallpaper, rugs etc. These are the places where the personality of the client really starts to be seen. This is also where we focus even more on the use of the space for the products we are selecting. If it is a retail store we are designing we want to make sure that we are inciting the potential customers to come into the space. If it is an office we want to make sure that it is set up in a proficient way that will keep people in the mindset to work. If it is a home we need to make sure that it is inviting and hugs the client when they walk through the front door.
All of these elements come together on design boards and are then presented to the client. At this point we always hope for a resounding I love everything go ahead. But that doesn’t always happen. What usually happens is the majority of the idea is accepted and then there is time spent tweaking the idea and plans to get the final outcome that is desired. Once this has been achieved the plans are sent to engineering and permitting and demo begins.
As the design is being implemented your interior designer is constantly working behind the scenes. This entails following up with suppliers to make sure that the products are getting to the job sites on time. This means working with the fabricators to make sure that everything is being made to the specifications of the design. This means being on the construction site making sure that the plans are being properly constructed. And many times it means problems solving to create the design. Something what is forgotten is that what we draw on paper even with the best 3D programs it is still and idea on paper. When we are in the field there are times that changes need to be made to work around needed structural elements. Two of the biggest areas that change design elements are trusses and HVAC systems. These have very specific places that they have to be installed. This means that we have to work around them when creating the design. So that can lead to changing the positions of lights, changing the dimensions of closets, or even the set up of a room. When these changes need to be made your interior designer has all of your needs in mind and is on site to make the best decision possible to meet your needs.
Once the construction is complete it is all about furnishing the project. During the construction process these pieces were being made. They were designed to work with the cabinetry, the granite, the floors, the arches and columns. They were also made to be the best solutions to your work or living needs. So when they are placed in the home or office they feel as though they belonged there the entire time. It is at this point that the clients truly see the implementation of the design. This is the point that we as designers work for. This is where the fruits of all the long days, hot construction sites and stress come together. It is the absolute best when you walk in the completed space and the client is grinning from ear to ear. It makes it all worth it and why we do it again.
So no I do not get to prance around in exorbitantly expensive clothes with a drink in hand spending someone else’s money. What I do is take a dream that was at one time just a glimmer in someone’s mind and make it reality.