Every successful design must first start with a solid set of plans.
Plans serve as the roadmap to fully executing a new build or renovation project. Without them, there can be a lot of miscommunication, which result in expensive mistakes. This means the plans must be accurate and should be reviewed by all parties involved
Most clients come to us with their plans already drawn up by an architect. This usually means that the architect has accounted for how the home sits on the property, what is the style of the architecture and what the home looks like on the exterior. They have laid out the interior with all the necessary rooms and traffic patterns in mind, but in essence, the plans by an architect can be very general and a loose interpretation of what the home will be like finished. They are for the most part, based on industry standards and not necessarily customized for your lifestyle.
Now, this does not mean that this is always the case. There are architects who have the eye of an interior designer, or have interior designers on staff. But this post is all about opening your eyes to the realities, so you will understand the differences and be able to ask the right questions.
It is a common misconception that an interior designer is not needed once you have an architect draw up your plans, and that can be a mistake that you will relive everyday as you actually live in your home. Because your home is the place where you are meant to live your best life - a place that should support your lifestyle, aesthetic and functional needs, the plans stage is the best time to look at everything in detail and make changes where necessary before demo even begins. It is better to make changes on paper. It is a small price to pay to get it right, instead of living with regret. At the very least, know what the full possibilities are, and then decide what's important to you, and what's not. Our PLAN REVIEW SERVICE starts at only $2997, and well worth the investment to have a second set of eyes involved
The roles of an architect and designer should complement each other, but they are very different roles - so you need both! Their role is primarily focused on the structure, while ours is the finer details, lifestyle and aesthetic needs. With the right team in place advocating for the same end result, you are on the best path to your dream home
Think about it this way. It's like going to the hairdresser to get a shampoo, haircut and color. The colorist is specifically trained on coloring hair, while the hairdresser is more of a generalist. You want that colorist involved to make sure the color goes well with your skin tone and applied beautifully with no damage to your hair. That is the case in all professions I can think of - healthcare, legal, event planning - you name it, and design is no different.
From an interior designer's perspective, the plans are the instrument that will provide the details and direction from which the contractor will build or remodel the structure. The more detailed the better.
I often tell my clients that the plans should do the talking in case I am not around to do so. Every detail must be spelled out, every dimension called out, so there are no questions.
It is very important that your interior designer reviews your plans before you begin demo, because we are taking into account your lifestyle and functional needs, the pain points that you have expressed to us, and the ease at which your home should perform for you.
We start our work by "programming"
Programming is important to determine the needs and goals for the space. There are lots of questions that we ask our clients in this phase to hash things out. Lifestyle questions like, what feeling or mood do you want to evoke in your home? What do you want to achieve overall? Who will be using the space? What activities will each space be used for? What is your investment for the project? How long do you plan to stay in the home? We get deeper with individual rooms - especially kitchens and bathrooms, like how they cook, who's the main chef or how many chefs at a time, how many kids in the home, will they use the space as well, do they serve themselves snacks, what types of meals are most often cooked in the kitchen, how much storage is needed, storage for wine....and a myriad of other lifestyle questions to properly plan for their needs in one of the most important rooms in the home
As we review the plans (or in some cases develop the plans), the answers to the questions we asked are translated into the changes we make or recommend. We consider whether flipping certain parts of the plan will make more sense, a bump out here or there to make a room larger, a different layout to make more room for key functions, how the furniture will be placed to optimize the way the space will be used. This translates into things like - relocating walls or doorways, adding floor plugs, moving outlets and switches as we plan for artwork, reimagining a bathroom to make room for a larger dressing room, or add a separate commode, or two separate vanity areas, adding a mudroom with storage lockers, reposition windows to allow for more light, adding pocket doors instead of doors that swing in and out, relocating ceiling fixtures in areas like the dining room, adding under-cabinet lights, adding sconces and picture lights, make space underneath stairs for storage or even a small powder room, creating areas for built-in seating or storage
We take the plans and input it into our software program and from there, play with different scenarios until we arrive at the best one for our clients. Of course we keep cost in mind and the existing structure, but we also like our clients to understand that we want to highlight the full potential and all the possibilities, almost as if budget wasn't a concern, and then reverse engineer from there.
A lot of the items mentioned above are often left out of the plans from an architect because they don't ask these very detailed lifestyle questions, and the client typically doesn't know to address these tiny details with them.
The simple detail of adding a large freestanding tub with lower sides in the above bathroom concept may seem like just an aesthetic choice, but as we developed the plans for this bathroom, we knew that our client is pregnant and will be having a water birth at home. The sides of the tub being a bit lower will be helpful as the Doula assists her during labor. Plus, our client has toddlers, and a bigger tub would be great for fun bath times.
These are the types of details that will matter in the long run. This is what takes just a nice home to a home that truly supports your lifestyle and functional needs.
In the concept plans below (not final plans shown), we are taking a small powder room and shallow closet underneath a sloped roofline, and making it a full bathroom with bar area.
When our client came to us they didn't ask for a bar area - it was just not something they ever considered. As we interviewed the client, we found that this is a major family hangout where they like to watch movies and just be with each other after a long day, or on the weekend.
We didn't want them to have to go up and down the stairs every time they need refreshments, so we created a small beverage area. And if they watch tons of movies in this space, why not have the ability to pop tons of popcorn? We added a small under counter microwave drawer for delicious popcorn
We even created a secret playroom for their young daughter underneath an awkward roof line that had to remain as is, and tons of space for their vast collection of books in the custom bookcase/media center
One of the special surprises we presented to them that we knew would take them a bit over budget, but was worth mentioning, as they would never have considered that, is a skylight (not shown in plans) to let some light into the small bathroom.
The plan was all about creating a functional and livable space for their lifestyle needs, in a home that they expressed to me that they plan to stay in for a very long time.
In addition to full plan reviews and creating conceptual design plans, we also provide 3D photorealistic rendering services. This is available as a stand-alone service through our a-la-carte design services. Check them out HERE . It does not have to be a new build or a major remodel, we can create plans for a minor renovation of a kitchen or bathroom, or interior detailing like millwork and cabinetry design
We would love to hear about the design project you are planning
Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration!