Rightly so, this is one of the most frequently asked questions by potential clients and, one of the first things that we address in an initial consultation. With the proliferation of HGTV, Houzz, Pinterest, and the plethora of ‘instant design’ reality TV shows it is no surprise that the inner workings of the interior design industry remain shrouded in mystery. Many of these design sources show excellent finished projects, however, they don’t often chronicle the detailed behind-the-scenes work that all exceptional design requires. Let’s be honest, no one really wants to watch HGTV chronicle a designer responding to builder-architect-client communication, tapping out detailed CAD elevations, searching for the “perfect” product replacement, visiting workrooms to check in on specialty designed pieces, or pushing vendors to honor quality standards and lead times. That wouldn’t be entertaining or exciting! And, that certainly wouldn’t fit neatly into a 1 hour time slot. Yet, it is precisely these kinds of activities that happen daily on every project to bring it to a successful culmination.
With over 60 years of cumulative design experience, our firm recognizes that good design doesn’t materialize in the span of a commercial break. We take great pride in the thoughtful process that we follow for every project that comes through our office. Time has taught us that the foundation of our work is best built on a positive and transparent relationship with our clients. We conduct a complimentary consultation to gain a true understanding of the project scope, client needs and expectations. This is our opportunity to share our design approach. It is also our opportunity to educate prospective clients on the services that we offer and how we manage a project. After the consultation we are able to generate a Design Agreement, for client approval, that explains in detail our involvement with the project and our fee structure.
Once the Design Agreement is in place, we set up the initial design meeting. A typical first meeting with us is going to include an introduction to our entire team of designers, an opportunity for us to get acquainted with the client, listen to their vision for the project, be receptive to any inspiration they want to share, and begin the conversation about functional needs related to the project. From here, the design team begins working on the ‘behind the scenes’ tasks to develop and put form to the concepts that need to go forward first. Consider our approach to design development much like the process a baker uses to build a layer cake: The first layers to get solidified are the architectural framework, budget, construction elements, and background finishes. Next layers include plumbing, lighting, millwork, and hardware selections. Then come the last layers with selection of soft goods like rugs, furnishings, drapery and bedding—all of which relate to directly to the background elements. It all truly comes together with the unifying force of the icing, in the form of the art and accessories. And finally, the “cherry on top” expressed as a shared celebration and champagne toast at project completion.
One of the most satisfying aspects of our work is that post-project we don’t part ways with many of our clients. In fact, over 90% of our business consists of new projects from repeat clients and positive client referrals. That is a real statement for the relationships that we forge, the professional insight and value that we bring to a project, and the well developed process that we use to move clients successfully through a design project from start to finish.