The Top Common Mistakes To Avoid When Changing The Interior Design Of Your Office

You and your staff may have already grown tired of looking at the same color and decorations that has been in your office for several years now. Or you and your team feel that a change in the office’s interior design is what you need to attract and retain more customers or clients.

Whatever your reason is for wanting to change or improve the interior design of your office, you need to remember that this endeavour won’t be easy and it will entail incurring additional expenses. And if it is your first time (and your staff’s as well) to embark on an office interior designing project, you need to keep in mind and avoid the common rookie mistakes that usually happens or comes up with this particular type of venture.

Rookie Mistakes To Avoid When Changing Your Office’s Interior Design

Not having a plan. You need to have a realistic and manageable plan that you and your staff will work with during this DIY project. This plan should include the estimated budget, what particular changes have to be made, what items need to be bought, which staff will be responsible for a specific task, etc. Having a definitive and workable plan will help you greatly in not going over the budget, in not getting the wrong items and prevent any delays in the completion of this project.

Not involving your staff in the planning stage. Since your staff will be helping you out with the whole interior designing project and they will be working and staying in your office for at least eight hours a day, five days a week, you need to get them involved in the planning stage and listen to the ideas that they share. They may want a particular color for the walls or their office desks and chairs to be arranged in a certain way. Listen and incorporate their ideas since they will be spending a lot of time in the office and you want them to be more efficient and productive while they are working.

Not using and incorporating your current office furniture in the new interior design. If some or most of your office furniture are in good working condition and not yet too shabby looking, why not have the staff work on getting them to look better? Wooden chairs and tables can be varnished or re-painted. Save your business some money by not immediately getting rid of your current furniture. You and your staff can work on making them look better so that they can add to the overall improved appeal of your office.

Not knowing when to get help. If you and your staff do not have any idea on even how to start working on the interior design of your office, swallow your pride and hire some expert professional interior designers. If you really want your office to look better and more appealing, investing in the services of an interior design firm is your best option and can be a good investment.

Residential Interior Designer Figures Budget Sits at Head of the Table

If you think interior design clients in the high-end don’t pore over their budgets, think again. A background in accounting might be the last place you would expect to look for a key element of managing an interior design company, but interior design is as much a matter of numbers as it is colors.

The majority of residential designers I work with have virtually no knowledge or training, and quite often, no sense for numbers. Colors they are great with. Numbers? Well, they didn’t get into the biz for that.

I have given dozens and dozens of design presentations to clients who came to me to take on a residential interior design project. The projects have ranged from single rooms needing high thread count fine linens that match the colors on their walls or carpets, to full residential design with drawings, space planning and project management of construction trades. What these design projects have in common, whether it is just design direction or a full-on project, is client attention to the budget. How much is it gonna cost!

Early in discussions, long before any presentations, I try to get a feel for the task ahead and ask lots of questions. What is the space used for? Is your taste modern or traditional? Do you have pets? Are you familiar with high-end furnishings? Have you worked with an interior designer before? Pretty soon, I get an idea of the scope of the work, enough so I can inquire about the client’s budget.

I think this moment gives many designers the jitters, especially in the high end. They hesitate to ask about price for fear of scaring off a potential client. I beg to differ.

Most of my clients are busy professionals who come to me in search of a partner who can take the job off their hands and allow them get back to running their own business. I call them one or twice a week and we spend a few hours in designer showrooms considering products I suggest. Otherwise, they leave the project in my hands to manage.

Mostly executives, professionals and business owners, my clients would find it unusual not to have early discussions concerning budgets. They give me an idea of what they are prepared to spend, understanding that I can use the figure as a tool in my sourcing of their products, not so I can figure out how much to run up costs.

For instance, I can suggest to a client a fabric to cover a chair that costs $50 a yard. Or I can offer a similar fabric that costs $100 a yard. I have access to a 6,000 square foot fabric showroom to source from so there are endless choices. Or I can spec a dining table to seat eight for $5,000 or for $25,000. I try to keep design billing as low as possible and to cover my costs with discounts I arrange from designer showrooms. The public can’t shop there without a professional designer. And the way I work, clients never pay more than the product resells for in retail. I just save them the trouble and leg work of finding the products.

It is my job to take a list of often over one hundred items, linens, art, furniture, rugs, lighting, etc. and measure that against an estimate of how much the client indicated is an affordable range for the scope of work. The aforementioned table may wind up costing $12,500 and the fabric for the chair may be $60 a yard. Numbers are so important because the cost of the overall package has to match the beginning budget as closely as the design matches the concepts that were approved by the client.

I am not going to recommend red when the client asked for blue, nor a table for 4 when they live to entertain larger groups, and especially not an invoice for thousands of dollars more than we agreed upon. Of course, substitutions occur, but I get a client to sign off on the details and the cost of each and every item, one by one, so there is no confusion.

During an interior design presentation, color boards get examined, fabric swatches handled and looked at in good light, and drawings for space planning are discussed to see if they make sense for the way the rooms are to be used. A lot of the concepts must be left to the imagination of the client until they have been created. Budget is not one of them.

Making The Most Of Your Smart Decision To Hire An Interior Designer

So you’ve decided to hire an Interior Designer–good move! Now what? Before you start planning your “reveal” party, you’ll need a basic understanding about the process to ensure that you get the most design for your dollar and that you have a fun and fabulous experience, no matter what type of project is ahead of you.

You’ll need to learn the basics of choosing the right design professionals, establishing a budget, outlining the details of the contract, considering your lifestyle and communicating your challenges.

Choosing the Right Designer: Beyond the Portfolio

Professionally trained Interior Designers have undergone extensive training in the various elements of modern and historical design, art and architecture. They have a basic foundation of knowledge that allows them to develop concepts in a variety of styles that range from traditional, contemporary, art deco, eclectic–or a combination of several styles.

That being said, not every designer’s talent is right for every project. For yours, you’ll want to choose someone whose portfolio “speaks” to you in a positive way. As with every profession, designers tend to develop personal styles that carry over into their projects. It could be the sense of clarity and order you see in the furniture arrangements, or maybe it’s a color palette that’s used in a unique way. It could be the modern touches worked seamlessly into a roomful of antiques, or the interesting textures of the fabrics.

Referrals are the best way to find a designer, so if the home of a friend or colleague appeals to you, by all means ask them for the designer’s number! You can also visit Web sites to get a better feel for the designer’s talent and personal style. Expect to spend a bit of time on the phone discussing your project with the designer and/or completing a questionnaire that will give them a better feel for your tastes and your project prior to the kickoff meeting.

You’re looking for someone you instantly trust and respect, who communicates excitement about your project, no matter how big or small, and who trusts and respects you as well. After all, this person is transforming your most sacred and cherished space!

Establishing a Realistic Budget

Everyone has a budget, so don’t feel bad about setting yours in stone…or tile, or brick. No matter what the amount, your designer should help you get the best value and the highest quality possible. Be wary of anyone that summarily dismisses your grand ideas based on budget alone: A first-rate designer will work hard to achieve your key design goals, perhaps by spreading the job out over time or suggesting alternative solutions for your project.

A great benefit of using a professional designer is that she has access to materials unavailable to the general public, so no matter what your budget, your home will feel unique and very “you.”

Your designer will also manage the entire process, whether it involves space planning, lighting design, purchasing, ordering, selecting finishes or monitoring the construction and installation of the project elements.

Outlining Terms of the Contract

Make sure you read and sign an official contract before any money exchanges hands or work begins. In addition to the legal aspects, a contract summarizes the plans you’ve been discussing such as your budget, design fees, accountability regarding subcontractors (painters, carpet layers, etc.).

You’ve selected the designers and signed the contract – now comes the fun part!

Considering Your Lifestyle

Your home environment should complement and support the way you and your family really live – or really want to live. For example, if you’re starting a home-based business, you might turn your cluttered garage into a functional office. If your spouse loves to cook, you might knock down a wall so the under-used formal dining room becomes part of the kitchen. Many families make the mistake of letting the layout of the home dictate their activities vs. reorganizing the space to embrace their lifestyles.

To ensure that your designer understands how you live now and how you want to live, share as many details with her as you can. Also share your personal tastes so she can incorporate them into the designs. If you hate plaid, tell her now, before she gets too deep into the first draft.

To help you better prepare yourself, answer these questions before you have your first meeting with the designer:

  • Are you a creative person? In what ways does your home limit your creativity or your hobbies?
  • Do you like the present color palette? Does it need updating?
  • Are they any rooms that feel cramped or stuffy? Any rooms that feel empty, cold or unwelcoming?
  • Is adequate, well-organized storage a problem? Can you find things when you need them?
  • Are your bathrooms functional, pleasing spaces? Do you or family members have special needs (e.g. grab bars, easy-entrance shower stalls, etc.)?
  • As you walk through your rooms, jot down your favorite qualities about each. Do you like the proportions? Is there adequate ventilation and lighting throughout your house?
  • Are there any rooms that you don’t use regularly? Could any of these rooms be used for more than one function? Could any of these rooms be used for a completely different function?
  • Does your home balance open space and private areas?
  • Does the entryway do its job of setting the stage for the rest of your home by welcoming guests and making a statement about the people who live there? If you normally come into your home through the garage, does that area welcome you?

Focus on Your Challenges

A designer works best when you share your “wish list,” express your ideas, and then keep an open mind. That means communicating how you want to live in the space and then entrusting the designer to make it happen. After all, you hired this person for her experience, talent and vision!

For example, one homeowner hired a designer to help her reorganize her tiny office so she could be more productive. Instead, the designer suggested that she move her entire operation downstairs, into the den she used once every two months to watch movies. She did, tripling her space and doubling her productivity in just three months.

Contrary to TV, where designers admonish clients for questioning their plans, real-life designers understand that you’re the person who ultimately needs to love the space. They want you to be happy and want you to give your input so you’re absolutely thrilled with the results (and so you’ll recommend them to your friends)! That’s why they do so much probing upfront about your tastes and how you live, then incrementally present their ideas throughout the process.

Hiring a designer is like giving a gift to yourself! You made the smart decision to hire an Interior Designer, you’ve been smart about the planning process, and now you can rest assured that the time, money and energy you spend returns truly smart, stunning results!

Interior Design: A Luxury or a Valid Service?

The image often conjured up by the term interior design is that of having a rather ‘arty’ individual come in to throw around some unnecessarily elaborate ideas, come up with an over-decorated result, and who will select high end and expensive designer furnishings that you may prove quick to tire of, and successfully part from you a lot of your hard earned cash!

Add to this the fact that the face of interior design has been portrayed by the media as a thing of fun and frivolousness, it is little wonder that people may well consider it a luxury, and certainly a service that doesn’t lend itself to times of financial constraint when we are all pulling in our belts a little.

However there are important considerations to make when deciding to refurbish an interior that lie way beyond the colours of the walls, or the choice of furniture and soft furnishings. There is the messy bit that comes before all of that.

What the interior designer has to offer to businesses and individuals thinking of refurbishing their work and living spaces, is very different. It is valid service that can, in the long run, save time and money, as well as a lot of anguish and heartache.

When approaching a project with professionalism, the designer should always get a brief from the client outlining what they want for their room or building, in terms of use of space, the number of people using that space, and any colour schemes the client may have in mind.

The functionality of a building is obviously very important, but so are the aesthetics and other factors such as whether or not the client wishes to maintain existing furniture and features into their new scheme.

In addition to this the profession also has much more to offer. Using professional drawing skills enables the designer to produce scaled plans and accurate 3D visuals, which show the client exactly what a new room layout will look like. This encourages dialogue between client and designer and subsequently alterations can be made at the planning and drawing stage to illustrate what alternatives will look like.

Once the designer has been employed, they are there for the duration of the project and so on-going decisions can be made along the way, and obstacles that could be daunting to the novice become opportunities for the designer to tackle. Therefore on-site problems are overcome as they arise.

Another important factor to consider is the budget. Everyone has either a budget, or an idea of how much they have, or want to spend. To this end it is very important for anyone embarking on an interior refurbishment project to know this information at the outset. Both designer and client are wasting time and resources if the designer comes up with a fabulous scheme regardless of cost, the client loves the scheme, but once all the quotations are in, wham! Its way too expensive. The correct way to approach a new project is with an idea of the budget in order that the appropriate fixtures, fittings and finishes are selected, and they come within any cost constraints.

There are other, rather more tedious aspects of interior design that must be taken into account, such as health and safety, particularly when applying interior design to a commercial use, such as retail interiors, clubs, restaurants and the like.

Your interior designer should be up to date with latest HSE & CDM regulations, and also, more importantly, ensure that any building and interior installation work is carried out by contractors who abide by these legislation’s…and whom have insurance!

And finally…your interior designer should then be able to manage and oversee the project for you.

This would normally include: applying for quotations, organising timetables for work, drawing up specification lists, organising purchasing of goods and materials, on-site visits once the project has begun to ensure work is being carried out to standard and specification, and also to liaise between the client and site contractors.

In essence, this is where your interior designer should help to alleviate some of the stresses of the project, helping it to be delivered on time, and address and overcome any problems that arise on site, when they arise.

So hopefully this will help you to decide for yourself, when undertaking a refurbishment project. You will undoubtedly be taking on builders, decorators, engineers etc. and facing quite a bit of upheaval in your home or work place. You will be encountering a fair bit or stress. You will also be spending a significant amount of money. So: Is interior design a luxury or a valid service?