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  • Writer's pictureJustine Rowbotham-Belot

The Interior Design Process

Successful projects are energized by a creative Interior Designer. But how does the interior design process work? What does the Interior Designer’s job entail? How do they bring visions to life?

The process starts with the Interior Designer’s conceptual imagery and ideas often demonstrated with hand-drawn sketches and mood boards to illustrate branding, colours, material, texture, and the overall mood of the interior space being considered. This early part of the creative process continues until the client approves the overall direction of the


Moving forward, the schematic design gets increasingly detailed, preliminary sketches are created using design software such as REVIT, SketchUp or photoshop. In some cases, hand-drawn sketches can be completed just as easily and equally as detailed. This stage helps the client to better visualize the space.

After this goal is achieved, it is time to get design development underway through floor plans, interior elevations, and 3D models for presentation to the client for review. In addition, the work is often forwarded to other project consultants to coordinate the interior design concept with the architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical requirements of the building. In other words, there should not be a column in the middle of the kitchen counter!

Once approved, the designer dives into further detail to work out millwork and typical finishing details. If the space is commercially branded, referring to the brand’s design prototype for standard finishes and/or furniture is required to comply with their expectations. Sourcing finishes and furniture at this detailed stage can be a lengthy process and often involves regular updating and reselection before construction due to long lead times. To assist in finalizing the details, the client will often accompany the designer to furniture and fabric stores to source and hand select options. At this point, it is critical for the designer to guide the client carefully since products with long lead times must be carefully considered to maintain the project budget and schedule.

Once the design details and finishes have been approved by the client, the designer must then document the intent with construction drawings coordinated with the other consultants to ensure the design aligns with the building code and all building systems. This team of consultants work together to prepare the required drawings and permit applications. Once approved, the project is now in the hands of the construction team. The designer must be available for inquiries, site visits and assist in solving any problems that may arise along the way.

When construction is complete, the Interior Designer is often present to guide the placement of furnishings and other key features of the design to ensure that the vision comes to life for the enjoyment of the client and users of the space.

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