Starting an Interior Design Project

Starting an interior design project

The thought of starting an interior project can be daunting; whether it’s a staircase renovation or a whole new extension. However, with a bit of strategic planning, a project can be launched smoothly and effectively.

Whatever the scale of the project, four basic elements must be considered from the beginning: project site, program, schedule, and budget.

Project Site

It is the designer’s task to analyse the space to ensure that it will meet the client’s needs.

Sometimes, you may not have a single space in mind, but rather a few options that the designer will test to ascertain which one best suits your needs. Both scenarios suggest that you (ad the client) are working toward a particular program; however, sometimes the physical space generates the program. In this case, the designer’s task is to decide the best layout for the space and design a program within those constraints.


Programming is the process of defining the needs of those who will use the space, in advance of creating the design.

Whether for a home kitchen renovation or for a newly constructed staircase, this exercise should evaluate the functional performance, opportunities, and constraints of the existing space. Furthermore, the program should articulate what spaces, features, or attributes must be added to improve functionality and give an appropriate and compelling character to a space.


An ideal project schedule specifies not only the designer’s responsibilities, but also the important decisions to be made by you, as well as the critical role of the contractor as a member of the project team.

As a result, the schedule should address all the project milestones, in the form of a checklist, and assign to a team member the primary responsibility for oversight. Schedules include, but are not limited to, establishing the time-frame for executing contracts and acquiring existing condition surveys; defining the length of design phases; receiving concept design and budget sign-off; bidding and negotiating with contractors; obtaining permits; defining construction duration; and fixing a move-in date.


Establishing a project budget is crucial for streamlining the design process.

It instantly communicates the scope of the work and the level of finishes. Project budgets are divided into hard and soft costs. For an interior project, hard costs cover the cost of construction and fixtures, furniture, and equipment (FF&E). A typical assumption for an FF&E budget is 10 percent of the overall construction cost. Soft costs include, but are not limited to, designer’s fees, consultant’s fees, project management fees, permitting fees, insurance, and project contingencies.

A designer’s primary concern is to meet the budget for hard costs. To ensure that a budget is realistic, a conceptual pricing estimate should be conducted early in the process. For small projects, it may not be realistic to have an estimator or a contractor on board at the initial stage. Instead, the designer may be able to provide “ballpark” numbers based on their experience. The danger is that construction costs are extremely volatile and subject to change depending on many factors, such as inflation and shifting market conditions. So, for early pricing studies or ballpark assumptions, it is important to include contingencies for unknown factors.

We hope this gives you a great basis for when starting your interior design project. If you’re looking for either a new staircase or a staircase renovation, get in touch with our team today on 0800 48 800 47 and they’ll be happy to discuss what they can do for you.

We wish you the best of luck with your interior design project!

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