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Our Design Process: 12 Steps To Your Dream Home!

Designing your home is a pretty involved process. Design decisions to be made, budgets to balance, contractors and trades to schedule, materials to be purchased, logistics to decipher..... and the list goes on and on.

Our clients rely on us to handle all this and more for them.

We developed a process over the years to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Actually, with our proven process, there are no cracks :-)

While we remain flexible and customize the way we work to suit our individual clients' needs, we are guided by this process to complete each project with excellence, and in a way that will far surpass our clients' expectations.

We plan for success from the very beginning.

Our small but very agile team makes customer service, communication and operating with integrity our top priority, and we can truly say that it is a joy to work with our clients. Our process helps our clients understand how we work, and where we are in the process at any given time.

We created this infographic to briefly walk through the design process.

**Side note: I got really carried away with these fun icons and creating these graphics in Canva. I hope you like them. Pin to your heart's content on Pinterest :-)

Be sure to download the free pdf version of our 12 steps at the end of this post, if you'd like to refer back to them in the future. As I said above, they were so much fun to create in Canva, we would love for you to share them :-)

Step 1 - The FREE Discovery Call that we ask our prospective clients to schedule in our convenient platform on Wix, so that we may set aside about 30minutes to discuss their project.

Of course, a prospective client is welcomed to just pick up the phone and call during business hours if they prefer, but the chance that we may be in the middle of something else is pretty high, and we much prefer to focus on their needs with a scheduled time slot on our calendar. You can schedule one below.

The Discovery Call is usually conducted through a phone call, where we call you at the phone number that you include in your booking form. Or we can meet via video conference if you prefer.

The call usually lasts about 15-20 minutes, which gives us enough time to discuss your project scope, the type of service that would be right for you, timeframe you have in mind for completion, goals, the investment that you have planned to make, how you prefer to work with a design firm, and any other relevant information.

You are free to ask any question about the design process. By the end of the call we will both determine if we would like to move to the next step, which is the In-Home Consultation.

Step 2 - The In-Home Consultation can also be used for a "one-off" consultation session for a client who needs some advice and guidance before embarking on a DIY project, but it is mostly used for the next step in the design process for full service interior renovation and design.

You can book one below.

The in-home consultation is a very important step in the design process. A lot is accomplished in these two hours. We take the opportunity to assess the space in detail to understand the feasibility of the goals and dreams you have.

We also want to understand your lifestyle and your routines now and how you would like to improve them by the end of the project. We are not just thinking about your needs now, but well into the future. Things like, do you plan to sell, do you plan to have children or pets, do you entertain a lot now or plan to in the future, what are your hobbies and how would you like to use the space. How are the rooms used now and what challenges exist.

We are basically "diagnosing the patient" as one of my dear colleagues always says. We first have to know what's not working and what you want to improve, to get down to some design ideas and solutions.

As we walk through your home during the consultation, we take that opportunity to get to know you as well to understand how we can work together for the best outcome. Understanding personalities is an integral part of this process. We enjoy working with clients who prefer to be very hands-on, as well as clients who leave everything to us. We are sure to discuss these differences during the consultation.

One of the key benefits for inviting us to the in-home consultation, is that we will leave you much more educated about the design process than before we arrived. Many consumers are still unsure about how it all works, or they have experience working with another designer who works differently, or their education about the design process up to this point is from TV reality shows. We want you to understand what the process is to work with us, and most of all, to fully understand what we are about to embark upon.

Of course we are flexible and will cater to your unique needs, but we will never compromise on a structured and fluid process, and we will never cut corners. We are very diligent in explaining all that is involved - the good things and the not so good things that you can expect from embarking on renovation or decorating a home. Design is not a perfect process, things do go wrong - from trades people that don't do the right thing, to products arriving damaged, or delays from backorders, we have seen it all and we come to the table with solutions. To sum it up - we manage it all so you don't have to.

One of the most important conversations we will have at the consultation is the budget. This can be super awkward to talk about, but we want to make sure we are on the same page. While we cannot define an exact budget, or even our design fee at the consultation, we will help you in understanding what to expect.

We use past projects to give you an insight into a range you should consider for your project, while being open to the fact that we are designing a unique space for you. We have written several posts about budgets. Here's one of our most recent posts

By the end of the consultation, we will have a full understanding of the scope of work, gathered enough information to understand your functional and style needs, what your priorities are, the budget range, and the timeframe in which you would like to complete your project.

Step 3 - The Design Fee Estimate Proposal + Agreement is the document we send you within 2-3 business days of the consultation to engage our services for your interior design project.

It outlines the scope of work in detail, the deliverables, the timeframe estimation, the design phases and design fee estimate, and the terms and conditions.

We try to make everything clear from the beginning, so there are no surprises. We send the Proposal via a link to our digital platform, where you can simply sign from any device to get started.

Of course, we are happy to meet with you in your home, or phone or video call to review the Proposal and answer any questions you may have. Once you are ready to get the ball rolling, we require 50% minimum of the estimated design fee to get started.

Step 4 - Site measure and assessment, and initial meetings with trades is the big kickoff of your project. It usually happens within 1-3 weeks after the consultation.

We can't do much without accurate measurements, so this step is very important. We show up with all the tools needed, like our heavy duty tape measure, to get the job done accurately. I cannot tell you how much easier it is to measure spaces with the right tools.

We may even bring in a digital scanner company (on larger projects) to capture the entire floor plan digitally, to make it a bit easier.

In some cases, we are working with new construction, where we already have plans from the architect. We still conduct this meeting to verify certain dimensions and meet with our trades and GC. And if plan review is a part of the scope, we will review plans to make sure they work for your lifestyle. Here is a blog post we recently wrote about how we conduct plan reviews HERE, and one that talks about the different roles, between the architect, builder, general contractor HERE

We also try to invite as many of our trades people who will be involved in the process as possible. At this point we have not begun the design of your space yet, but we already have some initial concepts floating around in our heads. Our trades people are always willing to meet with us at the site measure to hash out some of these ideas to make sure they can be executed well, and for a reasonable cost, keeping budgets in mind. These are high level conversations as we begin the process of bringing our combined visions to life.

Some of these trades people are even able to measure and provide us with initial estimates before the design is complete.

Step 5- Design development begins now that we have accurate measurements. This is the fun part, where our initial ideas and concepts start taking shape and become real solutions.

We start with floor plans and elevations - review existing plans for proper flow, keeping in mind your lifestyle needs, or creating new floor plans and elevations.

We then select all the materials and finishes, and create the material spec book for the builder or GC, where we will meet with them later to review the details of the design.

We then get to the furnishings layer - the part that truly makes your house a home. We create furniture layouts for each room to ensure proper traffic flow. We then source all the furniture, wallpaper, textiles, art, accents, decorative light fixtures, statement accessories - all the layers that create a lush and luxuriously finished home.

We also gather estimates and quotes from trades people and begin building the project budget.

We put together the entire scheme for your home into a comprehensive Presentation, and we are now ready for the next step.

Step 6 - The Design Presentation is the exciting day where we meet in your home or our studio to review all the details of your design! We strive to make the Presentation fun and inspiring. Therefore we use a lot of visual aides - detailed floor plans and elevations, digital presentation boards showcasing all the furniture pieces for each room to show their relationship to each other, a powerpoint slideshow highlighting all the furniture pieces, and important details, 3D renderings for certain rooms, and samples of textiles, wallpapers, finishes.

As we go through the Presentation we are sure to explain the design and how we are solving the challenges with the space, and addressing your needs.

We want you to be 100% happy with the design, so your feedback is important to us as we go through the Presentation.

An important part of the Presentation is the budget review. Every item we present to you is accounted for in the budget, broken down by room. We also include estimates for certain elements that we are not able to price at the moment - things like small styling items, freight charges, receiving fees, storage and white-glove delivery. These are items we don't have prices for until the services have been rendered by our vendors, therefore we put fair estimates in the budget to make sure those are accounted for from the beginning.

We strive to never surprise you with unexpected invoices throughout the process.

Step 7 - Revisions are a part of the process, and therefore if there are elements you are not in love with we will be happy to revise.

Now, you hired us for our expertise, so our goal is to take you out of your comfort zone. We aim to show you things you have never seen, and present ideas you would have never thought of. We will bring you back to the story we are crafting for you, that will represent your ideal vision - the big picture of the design, and will advise you not to get caught up on tiny details.

Some elements we present are necessary to keep the integrity of the design in tact, while there are a few things that we can revise.

Once we get to the full approval of your design, you sign off on the furnishings agreement and pay the minimum deposit to get to the work start and procurement phase.

Step 8 - The work start and procurement phase is also a very exciting part of the process.

We begin to coordinate schedules and meet with trades people who will be doing work in your home. In most cases we are confirming design details with them with plans in hand.

It is very important that they not only have what they need, but understand the details of the design. We don't leave anything to chance or their interpretations. There are certain accepted industry norms that we firmly disagree with, and we want to make sure those norms aren't included in your home.

We also begin the procurement process of all the furnishings we agreed on.

The procurement process is a pretty detailed process. Every single item has to be ordered and managed. On a large project, we are talking hundreds of purchase orders to create, send out, and follow up for statuses. These days, we are seeing a lot of delays and backorders with products, so we are even more diligent than ever.

We make sure materials are delivered to our trades people for fabrication - draperies, upholstery, framing and other custom pieces.

Site 9 - Site visits on a regular basis help to ensure the integrity of the design. The more we can be on site as items are being installed, the better.

We arrive on site on the start date of anything being installed that we designed or selected. This is another meeting with the trades to walk them through the design one more time before it is installed.

That could include anything like laying out tile patterns on the floor before getting them on walls, starting and stopping points of tile work, millwork layout, wood flooring layout, plumbing layout on shower walls, verifying paint colors and finishes and start and stop points, height and placement of light fixtures, placement of outlets, curb heights, transitions, layout for wallpaper repeats and so much more.

These are the seemingly small details that are crucial to the way your home will look at completion.

We also observe site conditions and report back to you. We are your eyes and ears on the job site.

Step 10 - I think a lot of clients are shocked when they learn that we don't just ship products to their home throughout the process. Imagine having to be home constantly to receive furniture. Yikes!

We have a very structured and professional process for receiving products.

Most of our trade vendors require a commercial warehouse with a dock anyway, so this is very necessary for us. Your products arrive on 18 wheelers, which cannot go into neighborhoods, therefore they must be shipped to a 4 foot receiving dock.

We work with a professional receiving company that receives everything and checks them against the freight driver's list. They check all the boxes for freight damage. They then unbox and inspect for damage to the actual items. They dispose of all the boxes and pallets and then send us a photo of each piece. If there is any damage, we take the necessary actions - file a claim with the vendor or freight company or have them touched up locally by our furniture artisan.

Every item is then rewrapped in blankets and stored away until we are ready to have them pulled again for installation day.

Step 11 - As the process progresses, we check on products out on open purchase orders weekly. We have a master list in our product management software, Zoho Connect, and as items arrive to the warehouse, we keep track. We maintain constant communication with the receivers' staff.

When every item has arrived, we notify them and have them send us their list to compare.

It's time for installation day!

The next thing is to schedule a date that will work for you. We ask our clients not to be home on installation day, as it is a pretty fast-paced day. We will talk you through what to expect and how long it will take.

If you have furniture that needs to be moved out, or we need to bring in a cleaner and organizer, we will help you arrange these services.

Once we have a date on the calendar, we set out to do the final local shopping for small styling items. These are the accessory items that were not presented at the presentation meeting since we shop for them a few days before installation. We use these items to style bookcases and fill in the layers for a more lush and finished look.

We use local retailers like West Elm, CB2, Target, Homegoods and local antique shops.

Step 12 - Turnkey installation and styling!

We made it! The process of getting to installation day is so well worth it.

All you have to do is be away for a few hours while we do our thing.

It may seem a bit chaotic, but we have a pretty organized process.

The warehouse white-glove delivery team starts pretty early in the morning with loading the truck. The loading of the truck is pretty organized. For example, rugs are loaded on last because they are the first thing to be placed.

We instruct the delivery crew on where to place items. They tweak and move things around as we need to, to get them just right. Once all rugs and all furniture has been placed, they do clean up of all packaging materials.

We then hang all the artwork, style shelves and table tops and do our final cleanup.

Now it's time for the BIG REVEAL!! Yay!!

Our clients are always super excited to get the call that it is time for the reveal. They race home to see their beautiful new space. It is not just about being beautiful, the new space represents their dreams and an improvement in the way they live.

Now they can entertain, now they can sleep better in a restful retreat, now they can hang out together as a family where everyone feels comfortable, now they can cook up some amazing meals in the new kitchen, or get ready faster in the new bathroom.