The Making of a Great Project Part 2: The Design Process

Even though some days my studio may look out of sorts; prints strewn, fabric samples covering every inch of the floor,etc., I promise there is a method to my madness! And today I’ll walk you through what’s called the design process: how visions are turned into reality in 5 steps. 

Family room with 2 sitting areas, a large round white table separating the two. Arched doorway and two natural light fixtures.


In the initial stage of designing a house, we start by getting to know the client. This is where Pinterest boards are shared and dreams are communicated. We figure out what makes you YOU and how we can integrate your likes and dislikes, style, and colour preference into the design. We talk about your goals for this space and special pieces you have acquired that you would like incorporated into the design. In this phase we start figuring out the scope and scale of your project and how much involvement you need from me, your designer. This will help us come up with an estimated budget and give the client a good estimate of what he or she will be spending. Draft floor plans are created and existing furniture to reuse is inventoried to start the design development. 

Birds eye view of blue rug, mint side table, white leather chair, white coffee table with hot pink flowers on a natural tray.


After gathering information in the first stage, it’s time to start scheming. In the scheming phase, design concepts start to become solidified. I start creating your color palette by laying out fabrics, floor samples, wood finishes, hardware, etc. I “touch” anything and everything that will be included in the design of your space. This is a process that evolves and gets better and better as it develops. It can not be rushed! Even when we think it is almost done, we allow it to – and – before finalizing. The client is not present for this process but will have to approve design presentations made in this phase at a later time. After everything has been pinned down (literally and figuratively) it is now time to present my design to YOU, the client. 

Four blue fabrics laid out on jute carpet


The presentation is exciting for both the designer and you, the client. In this stage, design presentations take place at my design studio and I will present the design concept to you. Organized boards with fabric samples for carpets, drapery, upholstered furniture and pillows stand up on easels. Tiles and wood finishes for cabinets or trims are laid out on the table, along with images pulled from furniture suppliers I will most likely use. I encourage my clients to touch and feel whatever they want and give honest feedback about how they are feeling. However, I ask my clients to consider the project as a whole, not individual items. It is the symphony that sounds good together as opposed to individual instruments. This meeting will dictate in what direction the design is going and what approved samples will need to be ordered. It is important that you  tell me your thoughts and reactions to the design.  It is especially important that you ask questions and be honest about what you love  and what you don’t love. 

Cork board with fabrics corresponding to different rooms

Final Design Development

Once decisions in the presentation have been approved, I will start finalizing the different aspects of your project. I start contacting contractors and grabbing prints and contacting suppliers for materials and furnishings cost. Final project costs are presented to the client and estimated project timelines. We do our best to communicate product lead times to our clients as known . 

Hand drawn renderings of kitchen cabinets


In this final phase of the project, implementation, construction and installment of the design is executed. This is when we will be able to see your space take shape. I will be able to do various “walk-throughs” to ensure all contractors are on the same page and that install is going smoothly. After construction of your space is complete, I will dress the space with the furnishings and accessories already approved in the last two stages and VOILA! Your newly designed space is complete! 

Dining room with light wood walls, white chandelier, light wood table and purple flowers in the center

The design process is a fickle thing and can look entirely different for each designer. My process has been refined over years of trial and error. For prospective clients, I hope that this gives you insight on what to expect when working with my team and me. Nothing and no one is perfect and the nitty-gritty is that a design is a living thing that can constantly change. Decisions will have to be made and honesty is (honestly) the most important tool my clients can use. But after all is said and done, this process will ensure that you get to walk into the space of your dreams every day, years after I walk out of it. 


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