Recently, I shared the first stage of the design process, The Meeting, or getting to know you, and your willingness to try something newIn this post, I continue my multi-part series, particularly illuminating what many people may not know to expect during an interior design project.

Interior Design 3D Rendering

This 3D rendering of one of our projects, currently in progress, provided added confidence for our client during this phase

The 4 Stages of the Interior Design Process

  1. The Meeting (Excitement and Exploration, Programming)
  2. The Work (Space Plans, Materials, Interior Design Mood Boards, and Decisions)
  3. The Waiting (Quotes, Proposals, Orders, Deliveries)
  4. The Rush (Installation, The Reveal)

Of course, every project has nuances and is unique to the client and how they are best served. This four-phase breakdown is a general guideline.

A 3D rendering of a kitchen.

This 3D rendering, created during phase 2 for a client in Piedmont, is remarkably close to the final kitchen (below). 

Phase 2 of the Interior Design Process: The Work

In Phase 1, we were getting to know you. We interviewed you, we went through rounds of looking at inspiration together, we pinned to shared Pinterest design boards; we got a feel for what speaks to you, what you love. We tuned ourselves into the aesthetic direction that is your personal station.

We also looked at your current space, and your goals, and how to harmonize whatever is staying the same with whatever will be new.

Now, in Phase 2, we apply our expertise to creating interior design just for you.

During this phase, we show you options. We arrange one (or several) meeting(s) and present you with two well developed and different sets of ideas for your space(s). Complete with fabric and finish samples, tear sheets of furniture.

Presentation: The Interior Design Mood Board

Each set is assembled together in its own design tray, or we may attach these pieces to an actual board (hence the name “design boards”) or arrange the samples in boxes. The purpose is to have you experience the colors, shapes, weights, and textures together, and respond. For clients who want more help visualizing how all the pieces will fit together in the space, we may create a computerized 3D rendering.

A 3D rendering of a kitchen, viewed from the side of the island.

What to Expect in This Stage of the Interior Design Planning Process

Expect excitement. Usually, at the presentation, our clients have a clear and immediate favorite option. And even so, a detail from one design plan may move to the other; we may set a goal for finding a third option that is suggested by what we’ve gathered but is not yet presented. We listen and we watch, holding the space along the journey, weighing in on every detail and its impact on the next.

For some, these decisions can be emotional, because each decision not only represents money but also making a change, both of which may raise adrenaline. So, we keep an eye on how many decisions you will be making in any one meeting.

Expect that if you don’t make decisions in a timely manner, it may cost you more. There are a number of factors that contribute to the overall cost of a project. This phase is a place where we can move fairly quickly, or we can get embroiled in perseveration. As I shared with you in a previous column (“How to Know If Being the Client of a Designer Is Right for You“).

Expect to be called to let go of control and trust your designer. This is not the last time that you as the client will weigh in on decisions, or that we as the designer will make suggestions. In Phase 3, there may be a bit more of that, within and inspired by the parameters set in Phase 2, as the design vision is made manifest via the process of ordering and delivery (The Waiting), and Phase 4, installation and reveal (a.k.a. The Rush).

A 3D rendering of a kitchen that looks back to a stairwell.

A version of this article appeared in the Piedmont Post

Click here to read Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4

Also related posts:

How to Know If Being the Client of a Designer Is Right for You

The Iron Triangle Theory

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Finishing Touches: Important Moments of Beauty and Grace