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A bathroom vanity in process. There are square holes in the walls, paper is covering protecting the vanity, and a gold mirror sits on the vanity.

Interior Design

How an Interior Designer Can Help During Construction

Watching your project come together during construction can be exciting and also stressful. As interior designers, our work isn't done just because your contractor is finally on site. There are many ways we can continue to support you and your project during construction to make sure it comes out just as you imagined.

July 14, 2022

Congratulations! You made it through to construction, made all the big decisions, interviewed and hired a contractor, and they’re ready to start. Now you can sit back and watch your project take shape, right?

Well, not quite.

Depending on the size of your project, contractors will be part of your space and in your home for months. And a lot can happen between the start and completion of construction.

While everyone is doing their very best to address every detail, things inevitably come up in the field. Last-minute decisions need to be made and some are just plain unexpected.

Construction is one of the most rewarding times in the design process (hello, your dreams are becoming a reality!), but sometimes it’s the most daunting, too. Things change every day, and when contractors and installers are standing ready for decisions (like, right now!) they are looking to you to provide insight and possible deviations from the design in real time. So, what do you do?

How can an interior designer help during construction?

In general, construction is fun! You get to see all the design decisions come to life. But it can also be kind of scary to watch your home’s walls come down and see it filled with people you don’t know making a lot of noise and sometimes asking you lots of questions.

We are here to help! Having an interior designer familiar with your project and its design can be an invaluable asset during the construction phase of a project. Our job is to take your project through to the end and provide great design through the process – even after construction starts.

I like to think of us as friendly tour guides: you can travel to a new place and have a great time by yourself, but if you have a knowledgeable local guide, they’ll show you the secret spots and better views!

What happens when something unexpected arises?

We’ve all made our best-educated estimates about what is inside your walls, and most of the time we are right. But we won’t know until they’re open! Sometimes what’s inside is not what anyone expected, and the design needs to shift, both literally and figuratively.

What’s possibly just a few inches can sometimes have a more significant impact down the road. Those few inches can make the casework shrink, then the sink doesn’t fit, and the mirror that was perfectly centered over the sink is now off, and the cascade continues.

What an Interior Designer Can Do

Interior designers have lots of resources up our sleeve so we can help you bring things back to balance. If the design needs to shift, we bring fresh ideas that account for the new information that comes up during construction, while still staying true to the design you loved so much. We’ll help you see new opportunities so you can still feel excited about your space.

Who do you turn to if something is broken, lost, or never arrives?

It happens all the time — something you were expecting doesn’t show up, gets lost in the shuffle of all the other materials or fixtures on site, or is broken during delivery or installation. What do you do now?

What an Interior Designer Can Do

You’ve been waiting for the perfect chandelier from overseas for nine months and it finally arrives! Then the delivery person trips and, well, you need a new chandelier. When something like this happens, you have to reselect your fixture. Especially now, reselections are almost inevitable and, sometimes, it’s just not that easy to find a replacement.

Interior designers can help! Not only can we help you find a totally new product, but we also know lots of sources and have contacts with local workrooms and vendor representatives who can check stock and availability right away for reselects.

Who will take your project from good to great?

A lot of times, construction is the first time the design team interacts with the installers who are actually working on your project. During the initial design phases, most of our contacts include estimators and project managers. But installers are skilled artisans and have a great deal of untapped knowledge and ideas from working hands-on in their field day in and day out.

What an Interior Designer Can Do

When we do a site visit during construction, your interior designer has an opportunity to collaborate with these amazing craftspeople. Let’s say we detailed a trim piece to run along your niche in a certain way, but the installer has this great new saw and can get a flawless edge we didn’t anticipate. Knowing this information, we can modify the details of your project to take advantage of this particular skill and practice. When we have the chance to collaborate, the design can get better and better, even while it’s being built.

What do you do if something just seems off?

We work through lots of details. Lots! But there is nothing like standing onsite to really wrap your head around how all the planes of your project come together. Sometimes you as a client can really understand the design, but the details are not quite how you envisioned on site. We can make small adjustments onsite to help provide alternatives that can make a big, and sometimes even better impact.

What an Interior Designer Can Do

Let’s say together we designed a beautiful curve at the toe kick of your cabinets. But while standing on-site and looking through the shop drawings we think that curve would look great on every cabinet. By being on-site during the construction process, we are able to modify the design to make the best in-person impact.

Where can you find reliable checks and balances?

During construction, there are so many things to juggle. There are shop drawings, submittals, drawdowns, samples for approvals, cuttings for approvals, mockups, and more. All of these are the last chance to check on details before items are ordered or installed. Do you feel overwhelmed yet?

What an Interior Designer Can Do

While a quick glance at a tile or plumbing fixture might look right, maybe it’s a slightly different dye lot, or the finish changed. Interior designers are skilled at looking at every last detail to make sure what’s going into your project is exactly what you expected from the design. As an extra set of professionally trained eyes, we’re a bit of insurance that makes sure everything is correct and coordinated.

Whether your construction goes smoothly (we hope) or something unexpected causes bumps in the road, we are your advocate. After working with you for months to come up with an amazing design, we probably know some things about you and your space that even your friends don’t know. And maybe a few things you don’t know about yourself.

We're problem solvers. When your project is in construction, we can orchestrate solutions quickly with the overall vision in mind. Our job is to ask, “Is there a better way?” and come up with solutions that work for everyone to move you closer toward loving your final space.

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Considering a project? Or, just curious about something?

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