The Secret to Surviving Interior Design Projects

There are so many secrets I have to know to achieve great interior design, and one of those secrets includes helping my clients survive and thrive during their design projects. Since this Philadelphia designer advises clients both near and far on a range of home design projects, I want to send all of you who are about 1/2 way through a design project a little TLC…because baby – right now, you need it. 

On a good day, design is like a bucking bronco. Add in some construction renovation – and – for kicks, an aggressive delivery deadline or a residential move and it’s like riding bareback on that bronco. Design with a side order of renovation is an endless march of decisions, deadlines, dollars and deliveries. Hey. Design WITHOUT a renovation is filled with those 4 D’s – so, however you look it – design, renovation, construction – it’s perfect fodder for a meltdown by even the best human being and client on the planet.

I think the midpoint in a design project is the toughest on any client. To help my clients survive and flow through their home design projects, it’s at about this half-way juncture that I like to have a Designer-Client Heart-to-Heart. It’s my mother-client chat about the mid-point, enthusiasm eroding phase that is no client’s favorite. I call it the gooey, Unbaked Cake Phase.

The Unbaked Cake Phase in design is that difficult period – or void – that exists somewhere between the elated excitement you experienced when picking out design elements with your designer – and the end point in which those elements are fully delivered and installed to the point that it all comes together into a marvelous room you’d want to spend time in, let alone look at.

During this no-where-land mid-point phase, you are about to see dribs and drabs of your interiors start to deliver and install, but nothing in its remote completion. Your first glance at your newly refinished floors will be in their unvarnished state and they will look dull and drab as a result. You will see fine upholstery delivered yet it will sit lonesome and naked on your by-then poly-urethaned floors and you’ll want to sing, “Is That All There Is?” Your area rugs will be on back order so your home will echo like the Swiss Alps and some wise cracking visitor may even try yodeling. If a move is also entailed, you will unpack your existing furnishings and place your lamps and such – never suspecting that your spaces will not look and feel completed – nor your furniture remotely connected – until all of your new connective fabrics are in (area rugs, pillows, accent fabrics and window fabrics) – and your last accessory placed in its place. The cozy factor will be about a 3 on a scale of 10 during the Unbaked Cake Phase. This is all normal and par for the course. It is akin to taking a cake out of the oven after baking for only 25 minutes, rather than its requisite 50. It may look done on the outside -but if you cut into it, it will be an inedible, runny mess.

So – the first step to surviving your interior design project is to recognize this difficult mid-phase point and take it at face value knowing that “this too shall pass.” Step two is to keep breathing, chew gum, eat Good & Plenty, go to Spin Class, do yoga – and – keep your eye on the prize. Step 2, minus the Good & Plenty – keep taking the long-term view while you live through the “incomplete.” There is method to the madness in each design element a great designer layers into a space for and with you. Rest in that. Do not expect the cake to be fully baked yet.

Post a “No Yodeling” sign in the living room and take comfort knowing that you picked the right designer to lead you to your design promise land  and know that in the end – once every element is delivered and in its place, your interior spaces and your home in total will be the aesthetically rich haven you are craving.

But not yet…..not yet.