2023 is right around the corner and you’re already planning your new goals and resolutions: renovating the kitchen, giving the guest bedroom a facelift, maybe even a complete makeover of the backyard. But where do you start? How do you find, save, and transform your ideas into concrete goals and next steps?
From gaining inspiration, to refining your goals and finding the best design team for you, your next design project may feel daunting. Taking time to sit down and plan out your vision is key to ensure the end result of your project is exactly as you have envisioned it! Getting started is the hardest part, but we’ve got you covered. Check out these five tips for diving into inspiration on your next design project.
Define Your Goals
1. Connect with your lifestyle and plan your priorities.
Starting a project is one of the most important moments. When it comes to an interior design project, everyone you know will want to pitch in with friendly ideas, tips, and suggestions. They might have had their own experience; however, they won’t realistically understand the full scope of your project. In order to collect your thoughts and push through the overwhelm, we recommend a few things for getting started.
- Determine your lifestyle interests and priorities. Are you a passionate chef, or do you have an in-house cook who prepares your meals for you? What is top of mind when you walk into the kitchen? How about the living room? Is its main purpose a pleasant wood burning fire or Sunday football? Defining your lifestyle and identifying your interests and priorities for each space you are looking to renovate is critical so that the design of the space can most accurately reflect your needs.
- Lean into your tastes and preferences. What colors make you feel calm? Do you associate more with cool and clean surfaces or bursts of color? What is your aesthetic? Are you more Southern-California-Ranch or New-York-City-Chic? It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been to either of these places. Your aesthetic is your mood, your comfort, the colors and lifestyles you lean into most. Having a general idea of your tastes and preferences can help you define your aesthetic and let it reflect effortlessly in your new interior design project.
Sit with your notebook and possibly a partner to discuss items that are important to each of you and negotiate together or think about budget priorities to make decisions. One thing I often say to clients is: you can work with me on your design process, or you can turn this into marital counseling, but I'm only experienced in one of the two. It’s always best to communicate early and often.
There is not a platform we could recommend more than Houzz, a professional site for crowdsourcing all types of inspiration for architecture, interior design, and construction. Users can create an idea book and save items with comments to make collaboration easy. From furniture selection, to room inspiration and more, Houzz is a great resource for saving your ideas and creating your “shopping list” for all the different items you’ll need throughout your renovation. In addition to browsing inspiration based on living space or budget, users can search through thousands of existing projects that can act as a blueprint. From crowdsourcing inspiration, to conveniently organizing your budget and materials sourcing, Houzz is a platform that can be used throughout the entire design process.
We’re willing to bet you already have an account with Pinterest, along with over 470 million other people. It goes without saying that Pinterest is a go-to for all types of inspiration. From recipes, to fashion, to all things design. We recommend a couple things for getting inspired on Pinterest. First, make a new board for each space you are looking to renovate and title the board the living space you are looking to inspire — living room, kitchen, back patio, guest house, etc. Once you have your boards planned, simple keyword searches in Pinterest based on your defined goals will lead you to your first bit of inspiration! Lucky for you, once you select and save several photos or links for inspiration, the Pinterest algorithm will react quickly and suggest similar content based on your saved items. For example, simple searches such as “white kitchen countertops” or “craftsman style kitchen” will turn up thousands of search results with inspiration to pull from.
Once you begin saving ideas, we’re willing to bet you’ll spend hours going down the rabbit-hole of design inspiration, and we don’t blame you; we do it too! Saving your ideas into different boards allows you to stay organized and inspired so that when the time comes to find a design team you already have a general idea of your interests for the projects.
Start Your Project
1. Find A Design Team
Hiring the right design team to execute your vision and bring your ideas to life is arguably the most important step of the design process. Finding a design team is both exciting and stressful. To make the process manageable, we recommend working with a team that has processes in place; organization saves time. It is critical to begin the conversation by first discussing the timeline, expectations, and items you will agree to be responsible for.
Ask each designer you interview to see projects that may be similar to yours so you see their outcome and understand the style of the designer. When you hire a designer, you are also hiring their network and their design tools. You want to work with a group who can provide CAD documents to interface with the building department and other professionals as well!
2. Questions to ask your designers + how to know they’re the perfect fit for you.
Here is a quick list of several questions we recommend you ask every designer you interview. These questions can help you get a feel for how the design team operates, organizes, and ultimately executes the projects they work with.
How do you determine the best design for your projects?
How many people are on your team that would work on my project?
Is there an expected response time on requests from contractors, other vendors, or service providers?
Can you help us with purchasing and sourcing items?
These five tips are the foundation for getting started on your next design project. From defining your likes and priorities, to collecting and organizing inspiration and getting your ideas out of your head and onto paper — or into organized idea boards — is key to moving the ball forward. Once you have defined your interests and inspiration, finding the design team that fits your needs best is critical. Asking questions about their processes and understanding their style will help guide your decision making and ultimately lead to the best relationship and end results possible. Whether you are starting from scratch or working on a high-level renovation, these steps will help you create your dream interior design and contract the most adequate design team possible.
About the author & these design tips:
Pat Del Gavio is a design firm principal with more than 20 years of experience in interior design, project coordination + oversight, and furnishings + fixtures. Her team is located in the Bay Area but serves clients across the United States and now Europe.
The Del Gavio Group team has expertise in an expansive array of styles including mid-century modern, craftsman, farmhouse modern, industrial, traditional, contemporary, English, French, other European, and more. Corporate clients have included Tesla Corporate offices, Sotheby’s International Realty, Go Fund Me, and her residential clients have included Fortune 500 execs, professional athletes, winery owners, attorneys, home builders, venture firm partners and tech founders.