design phases

What does an Interior Designer do?

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I get asked this question; "What does an Interior Designer do?" more often than most, and the answer really will vary depending on the project, the scope of work agreed on, and the people involved in the project. I have broken down what each design phase looks like during a project in hopes that this will become more clear to my readers. 

Below is a synopsis of each phase which is intended to help you understand the design process.  

Phase one- Programming (Research & Job Site Visit)

  • Initial job-site visit to Measure and photograph the existing spaces (to prepare drawings as needed).

  • Fact Finding

  • Produce Estimated Project Schedule

  • Project Vision: Discuss the project’s specific needs and preferences with client.

  • Establish Design Intention/Direction

  • Property Usage Development


Phase two- Conceptual (Design Concept Development)

  • Prepare conceptual design based on project vision/clients needs and preferences.

  • Develop floor plan furniture layout.

  • Develop Distinct Design Concepts for client to choose from.

  • Conceptual Finish Board Selections (Flooring, Paint, Wall covering, All Window Treatments, Countertops, Cabinet Finishes)

  • Color Scheme Development

  • Initial Conceptual Design Presentation


Phase three- Schematic (Furniture)

The schematic design is developed and drawn from the approved preliminary concepts presented in Phase two in which documents ( initial space and furniture plans, lighting concepts, concepts for color, materials, finishes, and the selection of specific furnishings) are prepared for use in the schematic phase.

  • Define Interior Concept Design

  • Refined/Detailed Furniture Floor Plans

  • Develop and Present Furniture Options in a Presentation

  • Identify Colors, Materials, and finishes for each area

  • Select Specific Furniture

  • Initial Budget Estimate for furniture


Phase four- Design Development (Soft Goods, Art, Accessories)

  • Formal Furniture Design Presentation

  • Develop and Present all Design Details Including Soft Goods (Pillows, Bedding, Rugs, Drapery), Art, Accessories, Household items (as needed).

  • Detailed Floorplans and Elevations

Phase five- Construction Documentation (Final Floor plans and Specifications Documents)

The Specification Documents shall describe in detail the following information to properly establish a budget for the areas within the Scope of Work.

  • Matrix of Material References

  • Final Finish, Fixture/Equipment and Furniture Floor Plan

  • Detailed Elevations

  • Finish Schedule

  • Final Budget Estimate

Note:  The drawings and documents prepared by the interior designer remain the property of the design firm and cannot be used by anyone else for any purpose other than the completion of the project by North of Boho, South of Chic.

Upon completion of construction documentation any additional changes will be performed on a time and expense basis in accordance with our standard hourly rate schedule listed below.  

This phase is an extension where all architectural documents and preliminary furniture specifications are prepared for approval and implementation.

The floor plans are not intended to be architectural permit plans which would be submitted to the building department. They are to be used by the client, contractor, and architect for design intent, non-structural layout, and fixture locations only.


Phase six- Purchasing

  • All materials and products will be purchased for installation according to schedule and within budget. This phase consists of:

* Issue Purchase Order

  • * Issue Vendor Checks

  • * Track Production Cycle

  • * Quality Control

  1. It is understood that all items specified will be purchased in accordance with this design agreement; by the client, through the contractor, or through North of Boho, South of Chic. If purchasing through North of Boho, South of Chic, a separate Purchasing Agreement will be presented before purchasing begins.

  2. North of Boho, South of Chic will purchase all approved FF&E for the project (unless otherwise specified) as agreed upon in the purchase agreement.

  3. Custom purchases:  Custom items are described as a manufacturer's standard design (including but not limited to size and shape) which can then be adjusted with made-to-order details (including but not limited to finish, fabric, color, size, etc.). All custom orders will require the client’s signed authorization as well as the total price for each item prior to placing the order. The client shall be responsible for the payment of sales tax, packing, shipping, receiving and any related charges on specified purchases of merchandise.

  4. Warranties and guarantees on all goods and services shall be only to the extent of those provided by the manufacturer, vendor or supplier. Not all merchandise has a warranty. Some warranties are offered at a separate and/or additional cost and can vary based on each manufacturer's policy. The client is solely responsible for filing all claims against warranties offered after installation.

  5. North of Boho, South of Chic will not be liable for any damage due to shipping, errors, mistakes or misrepresentations on the part of the vendor.

  6. Designer shall not be held liable for purchases made prior to physical inspection/measurements are taken at the project site as actual measurements.

  7. Client understands and agrees that the designer/North of Boho, South of Chic can not guarantee the outcome of any insurance claim for damaged items.

  8. All Sales are Final. No Returns or Exchanges are permitted after the purchasing agreement has been signed by the client.

  9. Client understands and agrees that Designer cannot guarantee the availability and the prices of any items in the Purchase Proposal be still obtainable at the time of Client’s written approval of the Purchase Proposal. If any item becomes unavailable, Designer will propose an alternative item that is compatible in design and pricing for Client’s review and approval.

  10. Cancellation of items in progress (if possible) may incur charges according to manufacturer's’ specifications. There will be an additional 10% charge levied by the Designer for paperwork, and follow-up on cancelled items.


Phase seven- Construction Administration

  • Site Visits

  • Respond to RFI’s (Request for Information)

  • Finish Approval (by Contractor, for Designer Review)

  • Shop Drawing Approval (by Contractor, for Designer Review)

  • Present Material Reselection (as Needed)

  • Revisions to Construction Documents as needed

  • Communication/Correspondence with other professionals on the project

Phase Eight- Installation

A. Designer shall coordinate the deliveries of the materials for the Interior Installation and the Merchandises including but not limited to shipping, handling, storage, insurance, and installation delivery coordination of third parties. Estimates for these services will be provided to the client prior to install, after all purchases have been made and delivery schedules can be established.

B. Designer may request Client or Client’s Representative to review and approve setup of the partial Interior Installations or Merchandise during the Project. Client agrees that Client or Client’s representative shall cooperate with Designer’s request in a timely manner. Without such review and approval by Client or Client’s representative, the Designer may suspend further services at Designer’s sole discretion.

C. The Designer shall oversee the installation of the Interior materials, furniture, fixtures and equipment by third party service providers at the Project Site. However, Designer has no obligation to remain or supervise any third party activities at the premises. Designer will not be held responsible for the means, methods or procedures of construction, fabrication, delivery, installation, or safety precautions in connection with the third party or their affiliates.


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