A step-by-step guide to getting your design & Renovation project underway
Since this is my first blog post I wondered where I should begin. There are so many things that I want to share about the world of Interior Design and Decor but where do I start?! Do I talk about what you need to know about kitchen cabinetry? Or perhaps I will share my knowledge on working with trades. Then there is always the answer to the question we designers always get from clients, “What finishes should I select so that I can love my home now but not regret the choices when I decide to sell in a few years?” So many things to discuss but I have to start somewhere and this got me thinking, I’m not the only one trying to figure out where to begin. There are so many people out there that know their home needs updating and they know it is time to do something about it but have no idea where to start. Et Voila! This is where I must start my blogging adventure!
I am here to help you figure out how to get your design project on a roll so that the process is enjoyable and not a headache from start to finish. I am not saying this is going to be easy, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling like you would rather move than improve!
Step 1: Gather Inspiration
Your inspiration can come from so many sources, images torn from magazines, blog posts, Pinterest boards, images on Houzz. I once had a client find inspiration from a placemat! There is inspiration everywhere; you just have to figure out what you love and start there. If you are stuck, artwork is an excellent place to start. Many of us have art that we love or that has been passed down in the family that we want to incorporate into our design. This is a great way to get a colour scheme for the space. If you don’t have art perhaps you have a favorite blouse that you just feel like a million bucks in! Take that as inspiration and run with it. Wouldn’t it feel great to have a whole room that made you feel like that?
Once you have found the inspiration, or perhaps it will come before for some of you, you need to make a decision on which room to update.
Step 2: Choose the room to update
You may have lots of rooms that you would like to update. This can often be one of the most difficult decisions to make. You want the kitchen updated because you just can’t stand the mess in your Tupperware drawer, or the mess in the cupboards because you don’t have a Tupperware drawer! Your spouse on the other hand, may want the bathroom to be updated so that he finally has a place to store his toiletries too! This is when a conversation about priorities has to take place. Sit down and create your lists individually then come together and discuss the reasons why you believe the rooms on your list should come first. You may even have the luxury of renovating more than one space at a time. This is often more affordable from a construction standpoint but is not always possible from a client budget point of view. Which brings us to the next step in the design process, deciding on the budget.
Step 3: Figure out a budget
Determine what your maximum budget would be then subtract 10% for incidentals. There are always surprises during a renovation no matter how prepared you are before you begin. Sometimes structural things are found during the demolition process that have to be fixed in order to continue. It could also be a fixture you selected at the beginning of the project has all of a sudden become unavailable and you have to select something else that might cost more. It is important to know where you draw the line and try to stick to it whenever possible. One of the mistakes many homeowners make is that they use the “While you are here” excuse to get other things taken care of from the renovation professionals. These seemingly small items can add up quickly and put you over budget. After the budget has been determined you have to come up with a timeline that makes sense for you.
Step 4: Decide on a desired timeline for completion
You may have an event that you are hosting which determines when you would like the work to be completed by. Or perhaps you want to the renovation to disrupt your home for a specific period of time. This may be out of your control but it is good to have an idea what you are willing to put up with. Whatever it is, make sure you communicate this to the renovation team to make sure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same deadline. Communication is the key in any renovation process and it is up to you to make sure you are being heard. I would suggest a set weekly or bi-weekly meeting between the site supervisor, designer and home owner to keep the lines of communication going. This also helps with having fewer email threads going and items being missed from certain parties which can lead to expensive delays. Some weeks you might think you don’t have anything to discuss but there is always something so I suggest you set the schedule and stick to it.
Selecting this team of professionals is also a vital part of the process.
Step 5: Research professionals, locally or otherwise
It is important to have a good team of professionals on your side during the entire process. It is always good to have a designer on your team right from the beginning to get the plan in place before you speak to too many renovation firms. This helps by getting the design figured out up front so each firm you request a quote from has the same information and is quoting the same plan.
The final item, and one that can throw the whole design, budget and timeline off is sticking to the decisions you made during the initial design process.
Step 6: Make some decisions and stick to them
One of the biggest mistakes that clients can make is to not stick to the original plan during the construction process. Making unnecessary changes during construction causes delays and often adds to the budget rather than reduce the budget. I must put a disclaimer here and say that there will always be things that need to be changed during the process but these items come up with the construction progress and have to be dealt with at that point. Deciding to change something at the last minute that doesn’t need to be changed is a whole different beast. Some examples of these are paint colours, light fixtures, tile selections. It is usually the finishes that get changed last minute and for no reason other than the client changed their mind. You have had months of planning to imagine how the end product is going to turn out and you just aren’t sure about a few things. My advice would be to discuss these items at your weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the construction team so that they know you are second guessing a few choices and see if they have some insight into how you can be happy with the final decision. In some cases it is just a matter of trusting the team you have spent the time vetting and planning with and other times they might have a good suggestion about something to change that would make you feel a lot happier with the final product. Either way, COMMUNICATE this with the team. I will save you time and money, I have learned the hard way both as a designer and home owner!
A renovation is a huge undertaking no matter how large the space is you are changing. It disrupts your life and adds stress but with the proper planning and a team you can trust you will have a much smoother process and a more satisfying end product. I hope this step-by-step guide has helped you get started with the project you have been thinking about for so long. Remember it all starts with a conversation!
If you would like help through this design process please feel free to contact me, I would be happy to discuss your project with you.