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Any interior design professional will tell you that the work of decorating a space is a whole lot more than deciding what colour you want to paint the walls.

If you want it done right, and you want a result without regrets, there are functions to define, costs to consider, as well as spatial and temporal limitations to work around — but you can address all of these with a step-by-step approach to ease the process of decorating for yourself. By the end of this process, and even before anything gets painted, you will be more certain of whether you want to pursue this project with or without professional help.

“When a man's home is born out of his heart and developed through his labour and perfected through his sense of beauty, it is the very cornerstone of life.” - Gustav Stickley

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash.

Most practicing interior designers approach projects by focusing on four basic elements: the site, the programming, the schedule, and the costs. With each of these four elements fleshed out, you’ll have a better idea of the results you’re looking for, the work required to get there, in addition to how much time and money you’d have to spend.

The Site

"Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Photo by iD INTERIORS on Unsplash.

Whether you’re buying or renting, it is entirely possible to acquire a home sight-unseen — especially with everything from photos to three-dimensional renderings widely available in this day and age — but the endeavour of decorating the interior undoubtedly still requires a careful study of the site. Bring along a measuring tape, a list of the dimensions of the things you’re putting in, as well as colour and fabric swatches.

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash.

You may already have exact measurements written down somewhere, but your intentions for how to utilise a space may change once you’ve seen it with your own eyes — a room that appeared adequate for a particular purpose on paper may seem otherwise when viewed in-person. A walk-through would help your initial plans to evolve around constraints or opportunities and keep the accounting straight on your journey from a blank canvas to a home.

Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash.

The Programming

“Design is coming to grips with one’s real lifestyle, one’s real place in the world. Rooms should not be put together for show but to nourish one’s wellbeing.” - Albert Hadley

In the parlance of interior decorators, programming is not the kind involving the incomprehensible languages of machines. It is the industry-standard term for a significant part of the interior design process involving information gathering during your first visit to your new home, listing your routines and the functions you require of the spaces, as well as getting a hold of floor plans so that you can visually analyse your daily transits between the bed and the front door.

Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash.

Once you’ve got all the abstract stuff down on paper, you can begin to itemise the various physical items, the various fixtures, furniture, and equipment (FF&E), you may need to support all the intricacies of your life. The analytical approach is recommended because, while your lifestyle may be your own, you may not be completely aware of the optimal spatial relationships and details such as the FF&E you need may not be initially obvious.

The Schedule

“Just as a picture is created by adding a dab of paint at a time, the best arrangements are created a step at a time, with pauses so you can step back and see the overall effect.” - Charlotte Moss

Photo by Ralph Kayden on Unsplash.

A schedule with milestones will help you track your progress and keep you motivated. It would also be useful to include a schedule in your preliminary brief to a designer, if you choose to call on one. Even if this is a completely DIY endeavour you’re embarking on, you may have to consider other people who might expect to be kept informed of timelines (such as a spouse or the movers).

Moving day is going to be made much easier when everything is renovated and ready to receive your stuff, so plot a schedule by working your way back from your intended moving day and you won’t have to host a house warming party on a construction site.

The Budget

“Luxury starts where functionality ends and where the true value is personal and so has no price or reason.” - Marcel Wanders

Costs are arguably the most important aspect of any project, so the budgeting phase would require at least as much consideration as the other steps in this process. Having an itemised to-do list and an accurate idea of the costs will enable you to edit your plans, optimise the work, and achieve a result that is as close as possible to the ideal balance of expenditure, utility, and aesthetics.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash.

Experienced interior design professionals benefit from having seen a lot of data from past projects to be able to rely on some rules-of-thumb regarding budgeting. For a start: the total cost of your interior design project will be the sum of hard (fixed) and soft (variable) costs — plus around 20% of that figure.

Hard costs are typically easier to quantify, as these would be the direct costs of construction, procurement, and installation of materials and FF&Es. Soft costs — consultant fees, charges for permits, insurance, and contingencies — are often variable, not immediately obvious, and only accurately guessed at with some experience.

Generally, you can assume that additional 20% will be composed of the following:-

- Between 5% to 10% for the procurement and installation of materials and FF&E
- Between 5% and 15% for unforeseen conditions arising from renovations

The older the building, and the less familiar you are with the costs, the higher the percentages should be. Once you have defined the scope of work, drawn up a schedule, and estimated the costs, you can begin to figure out if you need to hire a specialist, shop for contractors, or do the work yourself.

Photo by Damir Kopezhanov on Unsplash.

If you end up commissioning an interior designer, you’ll at least be giving a detailed brief. But even if you’re taking this on yourself, you’ll have a better idea of how long this project will take, how much it will all cost — and perhaps more importantly, you would have made your home your own.

(Written by Kevin Eichenberger, 16th April 2020)


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how much it usually cost for the design above?

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A handy guide indeed. 

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@6011_3531_5354 Nic, that would depend on the design and material you choose, hence it varies.

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Good read to understand the main issues in interior designing. With better budget comes better quality and aesthetics.