Interior Design

A comprehensive guide to interior design processes

6 Mins read

What are the main steps involved in an interior design process?

  1. Programming
  2. Concept development
  3. Design development and documentation
  4. Execution
  5. Evaluation

Being an interior designer is one of the most rewarding creative jobs in the market. You get to showcase your creativity across different places and achieve different themes, all to the satisfaction of the various clients you interact with. This industry is quite lucrative that many full-time employees have decided to follow their own paths, and that’s why we now have many skilled freelance interior designers all over.

The mere fact that there are many interior designers means that landing and keeping long-term clients would be a challenging task. This is why you need to set yourself apart from the rest by performing the best. You’d think that this entails only using ‘luxurious’ and modern taste in your work, but no.

The key to success is as basic as following the correct process when handling a task. This article will give you a nudge to propel your career even further through our comprehensive list of the key processes involved in interior design.

Getting started

The space that you design matters a lot, but it isn’t the epitome of what excellent interior design is all about. The unique desires of the people that use and enjoy it are where it all starts. It is not all about making the place look cool (which, of course, is the main agenda in the first place), but a good interior designer considers various other factors from the schematics, analytics, foundations, and partnerships.

You need to take a holistic approach to create unique interior spaces that bring out a great relationship between your needs, the environment, and the best design principles.

An interior design process is a series of steps taken by the interior designer when working on a project. The approach is similar for all designers, even though there might be a slight change in the details of every stage, depending on the project and type of design.

It would be prudent to stick to the process as skipping any one of them might result in poor craftsmanship, and you or your clients may not be happy with the outcome. Following them to the latter will ensure that you can project your work in advance, allocate the right resources, and have the ability to avoid any major hindrances along the way. This is because every phase covers the design integrity, budget, and timeliness efficiencies, which are vital for a freelance interior designer’s success.

The steps involved in the interior design process

Here are the key steps involved in the interior design process:

1. Programming

The programming phase is the first stage that any freelance interior designer will undertake before commencing any other thing. This is the phase that interior designers take to understand the scope of the project, and the needs of the client, identify what resources they may require, and create a proposal to the client for approval. This phase can be broken down into four sub-steps, namely:

  • Problem statement
  • Research
  • Program document
  • Client review and approval

The initial stage, the problem statement or design statement as put by others, is the general overview of the entire project. Here, the designer identifies who the client is, what nature of work is required, the space to be worked on, the location, purpose, and every other detail that might change the scope of work or budget.

The second stage, the research process, enables the designers to identify all the users of the place and apply the recommended tactics. This includes finding out about their habits, preferences, privacy requirements, etc. They also research the inventory of materials and preferred furnishings to be used in the space. To achieve all this, the interior designer can use various methods to achieve his goals, including surveys, wider research, interviews with clients, etc.

The program document is the compilation of the data collected and articulates the problem statement, the research is done, and the projected solutions. It is then shared with the client for review and approval before commencing the work.

2. Concept development

The next stage is the concept development phase, which can be further broken into two sub-stages:

  • The ideation stage
  • The concept statement with schematics

The ideation phase involves the ‘brainstorming’ period, which involves designing solutions before leaving out the ideas that might not work for that particular project.

The next step is to create a file with a written statement clearly indicating the ideas and how to actualize them as the solution. The concept statement is also accompanied by drawn schematics, which are quick sketches and visualizations of the main idea. This covers everything that the project is to handle, from space allocations, orientation, etc.

3. Design development and documentation

Construction drawings, otherwise known as the final working drawings, are created. They encompass every aspect of the project from the beginning to the end and include floor plans, perspective drawings, ceiling plans, elevations, design elements, and many other considerations.

At this stage, a list of the written specifications for each furnishings and materials to be used is created. This list will help the freelance interior designer not to miss out on anything and can use it as a checklist when sourcing out the materials and products to use.

The final documentation also maps out critical aspects such as the timeframe that each activity would consume, in both a consecutive and overlapping format. The documents created in this stage: the drawings, schedules, specifications, and timeframe can be used as a legally binding contract between the interior designer and the client. This is why the client must approve and agree to every document created and make adjustments where necessary.

4. Execution

Once the final design concept is approved, the interior designer moves to the next stage, which involves execution. The implementation phase marks the realization of the design, and the designer will move to get the contractors and prepare a comprehensive schedule of work. This schedule will include everything that needs to be followed until the work is completed.

Before the materials sourced are used, the designers will have to inspect them and ensure that they are in the proper structure, and if any damaged goods are found they are to be taken for replacement.

Even though the interior designer might not be directly involved in the execution phase, they have to make regular site visits and ensure that everything is going according to plan. They have to coordinate the progress and inspect the quality of craftsmanship going on. If there are any issues that need to be tackled, they are always available until the project is complete.

Once everything is done, the interior designer will create a punch list (also known as a snag list). This document will outline all the possible defects of the space that may need to be resolved before the other materials, accessories, and furnishings are installed.

5. Evaluation

Once the work is complete, the relationship between the interior designer and the client isn’t yet over. There is yet another critical stage known as the Post-Occupancy Evaluation, which involves the designer following up to measure the success of their work. This can be through one-on-one interviews with the client or through questionnaires, which can be shared with the occupants of the space.

Based on the feedback, the designer will make the necessary adjustments to improve the results of their work. Furthermore, the evaluation can also be conducted by peers and can be done at intervals to increase customer satisfaction.

Apart from only focusing on the physical appearance of the construction results, the designer should also consider their performance based on the earlier developed concept documents. Other questions that may need to be answered include; Did you complete the project on time? Did you keep it within the projected budget? Are the results satisfactory to the client?

If any of the answers to these questions is a ‘no,’ then you need to re-evaluate your work and identify the flaws in your processes. This is not just a way of boosting client trust and referrals but as a way of improving your skills as a professional freelance interior designer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What are the main steps involved in an interior design process?
There are five key steps involved in an interior design process. They include programming, concept development, design development and documentation, execution, and finally, evaluation.

Q: What is an interior design process?
An interior design process is an approach used to break down huge/ large projects into smaller, manageable steps. This process is followed to the latter by interior designers who are not supposed to skip any stage.

Q: Why is an interior design process important?
An interior design process is important as it highlights every step that an interior designer should follow to come up with the desired results. The steps indicate everything required from the design concept, the materials needed, the projected budget, and the timeframe to be taken.

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