Interior design – 11 key questions to ask when starting a new project
Whether redecorating a room or transforming your entire home, here are the essential questions to ask before you start on a new interior design project...
Tamara Frye is RAFT’s Head of Interior Design. She’s helped hundreds of clients to transform their homes, turning ideas into visions, and visions into practical reality.
Tamara’s process usually starts with an initial telephone consultation, followed by a site visit and finally a presentation back at the showroom. During this process she’ll ask the client key questions which enable her to understand the vision, determine the scale and nature of the project, and tailor the final design to the client’s long-term needs.
The following 11 questions give you an idea of the sort of thing Tamara would ask you during an interior design service. So whether you’re looking to use RAFT’s consultancy service or planning your own project, addressing these points at the outset will help you get a headstart…
1) Are you doing it yourself or using an interior designer?
This will obviously affect the amount of input you’ll need from us in terms of creating a layout and a look, sourcing materials and items and so on. Some clients have a strong vision or really want to make a go of doing the interior design themselves. Others prefer to place their trust in a professional whose work they admire.
(At Raft we’re happy to help in either case: we can work with your designer, or give you the support you need if you’re taking the lead yourself.)
2) What’s the vision?
What’s the dream outcome? What’s your ideal style and what mood do you want to achieve? Which Instagram interiors accounts do you love to gaze at?
This is where Pinterest really comes into its own. Use it to collect snippets of rooms, homes, furniture, colour schemes – it all helps to build the picture.
3) What’s the budget?
In any sort of complex project it’s vital to know from the start what the budget is. We can also give you an idea of whether your planned budget is realistic for the vision, and if necessary help tailor the vision according to the funds available.
4) How will the room be used in practice?
Looks are one thing, but assuming you’re going to live in the space for many years, it’s critical to consider the practical realities. That means the function of the room, but also who will be using it. For example, if you have pets that will affect the choice of fabrics and furniture; if there are young children in the house we might want to avoid using glass, and so on.
5) What do you like most about the space as it is now?
And conversely, what do you most dislike? Making the best use of the space available in the home is probably the most common challenge that clients need professional help with. So much of what we do at the start of a project is about helping people to maximise their space by reconfiguring the design of rooms.
6) Are you keeping anything?
Are we starting from scratch and replacing all the furniture? Or are we reusing and repurposing things you already have – whether they’re treasured items or to keep within a budget?
7) What’s your favourite colour?
Ok, that’s simplifying it a bit! But have you thought about what colour palette works for you? That applies to walls, curtains, sofas, furniture and accessories. Mixing and matching colours, using contrasts, introducing accents – these are the things that are bread-and-butter for professional interior designers but which you might need help with. Again, Pinterest is great for this.
8) What are your ideas for flooring?
Do you like what you have or are we starting, literally, from the ground up? Flooring and carpets have a huge impact on the feel of a room.
9) What fabrics work for you?
Selecting fabrics for curtains and furnishings is something you need to think about surprisingly early on in the process. We usually bring samples along to the first site visit.
10) What materials do you like for furniture?
Materials – whether teak, leather, concrete or anything else – create texture in a room. This is the way that things ‘feel like they look’ and is another big weapon in the interior designer’s armoury. You can create texture contrasts – hard and soft, rough and smooth, natural and manmade – just as you do colour contrasts.
11) Which RAFT pieces do you want to include?
Got your eye on a favourite piece of statement furniture, like a teak dining table or leather sofa, that you want to put at the centre of the design? Or do you want to leave it all to us and let us choose things that work? Either way we can help you, from the initial design right through to delivering the items into the finished room.