Starting a Design Project

When you are educated in a particular topic, it’s easy to forget that not everyone else in the world knows what you are talking about. I’m guilty of using architectural jargon when talking to clients. It can be difficult to remember that what I’m paid to do for a living is because I am highly educated and skilled in areas of space, design, and building. I’m learning more and more when working with new clients who might have never engaged in a building project before to break down exactly how this collaborative process will unfold.

In light of this revelation, I’m going to be bringing you updates from one of my current projects over the next few months to better illustrate the different phases of design and what it is like to work with a designer or architect. I’ll be using a current remodel project which I’ve just named Midnight Midcentury. (More on the importance of project naming in a future story)

 Photo by Courtney Paige Ray

Photo by Courtney Paige Ray

Today’s topic: How the project begins

Step one is an initial meeting with your potential designer or architect. I described this in detail a few weeks ago, check it out here.

After your initial meeting, if both you and the Design Professional want to move forward with working together, the designer will prepare a proposal with scope of work and contract for you to review and sign. I do this all online with Dubsado so no in-person signatures or delivery of contracts is required. This makes for a seamless start! If you sign a contract with your Design Professional, they will invoice you for a retainer or deposit and once that is paid, the project gets started!

Concept is Crucial

If you don’t have a concept, you don’t have a project. This beginning phase can look a little different depending on the type of project. If yours is a new-build or a commercial project, it will likely involve more steps such as a feasibility study and permit research. If it’s interior design with no architecture, it may involve less. Since I’m taking you through the process on Midnight Midcentury which is a remodel with interior design, that’s the type of project I’ll be discussing here.

Data Collection

The first thing I do once a contract is signed is to set up a site visit where I will take photos and measurements of the space to be designed. This step goes a long way. After that initial meeting is over, I immediately draw up floorplans of the space and utilize the photos frequently to refer back to the existing and surround spaces. In the case of Midnight Midcentury, I’m redesigning the front entry rooms of the home which have pocket doors closed off to the rest of the house, a hallway that attaches to the other living space, and big sliding doors that visually connect it to the newly re-designed backyard. I was also told that the curtains in the dining room had to stay as well as one piece of art.

At this initial site meeting I will also gauge the client’s desires for the space and go over their Pinterest board to determine a style direction.

Concept Imagery + Space Planning

Now that I have gathered all the information, it’s time to sit in front of my computer and pull together imagery that will help my client more specifically determine the visual concept we will develop for their space. These are the concept mood boards that I put together for this project.

At the same time, I am drawing up space plan options. These are crucial to begin to determine size and location of furniture, fixtures, and equipment. Here are the three planning options that were presented to the client.

floorplan 1.jpg
floorplan 2.jpg
floorplan 3.jpg

Meeting Time!

I try to ensure that all my presentations happen face to face - whether that is an in person meeting or a video conference - it’s critical for me to be the one walking the client through the boards so they understand the concepts, the reason why something is sized or placed where it is, as well as the the clear difference in the various schemes.

Client Feedback is Critical

After this meeting, I generally have some pretty good feedback and an idea of how to move forward, but I also send the pdf to the client and ask them to give me written feedback. This is important to give them additional time to review the details of what has been presented as well as show it to their spouse or partner if they weren’t able to be at the meeting. Then, the client will send back the pdf within a set amount of time, marking out things they don’t like and circling things they love. This feedback loop is critical for my next step which is taking the desires from the concept phase into the design development phase.

Stay tuned as I walk you through that process next week!