interior designer melbourne

Time to complete any interior design project

I first published this post in August 2021, to try to explain why the interior design process takes as long as it does. Sometimes prospective clients simple don’t understand why it takes so long. I had a client recently who wanted me to help her style her entire two bedroom apartment in just two weeks. So here’s an overview of the time it takes to complete any interior design project.

You may already know that I differentiate between interior design and interior styling projects. Where interior styling focuses on function and aesthetics and interior design considers structure, as well as function and aesthetics.

But whether I’m working on a hospitality interior design project, accomodation or residential. I follow my interior design process. There are many different interpretations of the interior design process because every interior designer works differently. I refer to the interior design process in four key stages. They are,

  • Brief
  • Design & Concept
  • Design Implementation/Project Management
  • Styling.

To gain an understanding of the time it takes to complete an interior styling project we’ll look at each stage of the interior design process in depth.  This way we can provide an understanding of how long it takes to move through the different stages. 

The Brief

The Brief is an important first step in the interior design process.  I describe it as comprehensive question and answer session about the client, the space, spatial configuration, client’s goals, their style vision, preferred colours, textures and so on.  Essentially, at this early stage we’re developing an interior design strategy.

For example, for a client with an apartment, I worked on in Bundoora, the brief meeting only took an hour and a half.  With a couple in a house I worked on in Coburg the brief meeting took three hours.  For a hospitality design project it can also take 3-4 hours to complete the brief. There are many reasons for the time it takes to complete the brief stage of the interior design process.

Some reasons why a brief might take take longer to complete, include differing opinions between couples, style confusion and not fully understanding their own functional needs, and if the project consists of more than one space. For business clients it could be about a lack of clarity of the business goals.

After I have asked all the questions in my brief questionnaire, I write up the notes and present a brief snapshot to my client for their feedback or sign off.

Signing off on the brief gives me the green light to move into the second stage of the interior design process, which is design and concept.  So far the time spent undertaking the brief, both talking to clients and making notes, has been approximately 3-5 hours or 2-3 weeks. For the meeting, notes, time for client to respond, amend the brief and get final sign off.

The brief is a vital roadmap to the overall interior design process. I like to spend the right amount of time understanding the client while developing the brief.

Design & Concept

At this stage of the interior design process I often tell my clients ‘don’t worry if you don’t hear from me’. Because I delve deep into my own creative space and need time to work on their design and concept.  I’m researching pieces, while reflecting and referring to the brief. 

Depending on the client’s budget and stock availability on various pieces, the time it takes to receive samples such as wallpaper or paint, it could be 3-4 weeks for me to develop a mood board and specifications table.  At a minimum a mood board and specifications table are the two design documents I provide my clients.

This stage of the project could take longer if the client requests drawings such as a floor plan or 3D rendered images or if I’m working on more than one room.

Once I present a mood board and specifications, the client usually has an allowance of the number of revisions they can requests.  In my experience we don’t need more than two revisions for the client to be happy.

But responding to client feedback and finding a suitable alternative selection that works within the interior design strategy confirmed in the brief takes time.  Sometimes a day, sometimes a week or more.

All up I think the design and concept stage of the design process for one room only can take 4-5 weeks. Longer for more than one room and longer still for hospitality interior design projects.

interior designer melbourne
Example mood board

Interior Design Implementation

For the design implementation stage of the process, I present two options to clients to choose from.  We either do it all which includes sourcing and engaging trades people or our client does the bulk of trade contact.

Then our role is to keep in touch, facilitate purchases, undertake site visits to ensure the space is being installed according to the approved design. We also then brief the trade, sourced by the client, on design implementation for example installing wall paper or a feature wall.

However, for most clients the biggest part of design implementation is simply purchasing and installing pieces of furniture.  As often as possible I try to specify items that are in stock.

But sometimes the perfect piece has a long lead time.  Sometimes this lead time can be as long as 12 weeks.  There’s nothing we can do but wait and/or work on other aspects of the space and implement the design.

If everything is in stock and purchases made soon after the design has been approved then all the pieces specified can be delivered and installed in about 3-5 weeks. 

Notwithstanding any issues with suppliers. Suppliers have various delivery times and there can be logistical issues.  Sometimes items arrive damaged and have to be returned and replaced.  Sometimes the client isn’t home and the item has to be re-delivered. 

On average the design and implementation stage of the interior design project can take as little as 4-6 weeks or much longer. There are a lot of variables in play at this stage of project. Suppliers, shipping, trades which impacts the time it can take to complete the interior design implementation stage of the project.

Final Styling

Styling a space is the important finishing touch.  A piece of furniture in a space does nothing to tell the client’s interior design story.  Although pieces are carefully selected, the space needs decor to personalise and complete the design story.

Décor can be cushions, throw, rugs, art, plants, vases, sculptures, collections, candles and so on.  Due to the sheer volume of décor and homeware pieces and ideas, these also need to be carefully selected to ensure the design story is carried through.

Décor also adds warmth, personality and helps to add a unique touch to the space that communicates the client’s design vision.  Selecting these pieces takes time and finesse.  This can take up to 2 weeks. 

Sometimes we buy a range of things to try.  This process is very much trial and error.  If a piece of décor doesn’t work, we don’t use it.  Balance, colour, texture and shape are important facets with these pieces.

interior designer melbourne
Decor used for St Kilda East Apartment Project

Average time to complete a project

From start to finish we usually give ourselves four months to complete an interior styling project for one room.  From our experience this is the average amount of time it takes to complete an interior styling project.

An interior design project where there is a construction element takes longer as does a hospitality project.

In this time we allow for flexibility, contingencies and the organic development of a space from a 2D concept to real life actuality that is beautiful and loved by our clients. The time it takes to complete an interior design project varies depending on the scope of the project. But it’s not a quick process, for a quick solution I created The Design Basics.

The Design Basics is my sister brand with the shop the look mood boards in different interior styles for different rooms. These furniture sets are ready to go and may suit some clients who have a limited budget or want their space furnished quickly.

Are you ready to realise your interior design vision?