sandrahinton logo

The 5 Key Stages of Interior Design

Photo by Edho Pratama
I hope this short guide on the 5 Key Stages of Interior Design gives you an understanding of the interior design process. If you are thinking about renovating or decorating your home, I encourage you to reach out to a professional interior designer. A good designer can help you to create a space that is both beautiful, functional and unique. As an interior designer, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a variety of exciting projects, from all sizes of residential spaces to commercial buildings. No matter the size or scope of the project, there are always five key stages that I follow:

1. Interior Design Programming
2. Concept Development
3. Design Development
4. Construction Documentation
5. Construction Administration & Project Execution

Some designers consider the final walk-through of a project a sixth stage of evaluation in the 5 key stages of interior design. Although the Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is an important final step in the design process; check-ins with my clients happen throughout the process to evaluate progress and maintain momentum at each of the five stages of interior design.

1 - Interior Design Programming

The interior design programming stage is all about gathering information for what your project needs, what you want, and your budget. I ask a lot of questions during this stage, to find out:

– What are the goals of the project?
– What is the intended use of the space?
– Who will be using the space?
– How much do you want to spend?

The answers to these questions help create a project program, which is a document that outlines the goals of the project and the specific requirements for the space. The program is an essential tool for the entire design process, as it ensures everyone involved in the project is on the same page.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina

2- Interior Design Concept Development

Once the program is complete, we start the fun part; developing ideas and concepts for the space. This stage is all about brainstorming to come up with creative ideas. You probably have some style loves and hates, you might have an item that is central to the theme, or a feeling that needs to come across. I’ll take your preferences and may use sketches, models, and renderings to communicate a concept.

It’s important to remember that the concept development stage is just that: A stage. It’s okay to experiment, change and try new things. The goal is to come up with a concept that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. At this stage we need to find ideas you’re going to love.

We will not only save you money, but make you some too. A beautifully designed and well planned home adds genuine resale or rental value to a property. Instinct and feeling play a big part in choosing a home. Good interior design adds depth and feeling to spaces that otherwise might fail to inspire. Additionally when a home is valued, the quality of the interior is heavily considered. 

Photo by Giulia Bertelli

3- The Design Presentation

The presentation stage in the interior design process is an important step where Studio Hinton presents you with design concepts and ideas. This stage allows you to visualize and understand the proposed design solutions before any physical work begins. Here is an outline of the presentation stage in the interior design process:

  1. The Design Concept Statement and supporting conceptual drawings, including scaled floor plans showing furniture placement; mood boards showing colour, materials and finishes.
  2. Depending on the scale of the project, the proposal may include additional sketches, perspective drawings, full colour renderings, 3-D models or computer simulations.
  3. Cost estimates for the project, including materials, labour and a fee for design services. At this stage, project costs can only be estimated as precise costs can only be obtained once final working drawings are submitted to contractors, suppliers and installers for their bids.
  4. Time frame showing events in sequence and a proposed completion date.

Throughout the presentation, I encourage clients to ask questions, share their opinions, and express any concerns they may have, so that I can take on board your thoughts before developing the design concept with any revisions and feedback. Typically, after the initial presentation, clients will provide feedback or request revisions to certain aspects of the design. This is an opportune time to discuss the feasibility and impact of any changes and propose alternative solutions if needed.

3- Design Development

The design development is all about refining the concepts to create real, detailed plans for the space. I’ll measure everything, including light-readings, plumbing and electrical installations. This is the time when I draw up exact floor plans, lighting plans, ceiling plans, electrical plans, and define the required materials. This is also the time when I will present you with your design options to select any preferences and budget implications for materials, finishes, colors, and appliances.

The design development stage is where the rubber meets the road. This is where I put all our research and ideas into practice. It’s also where I can give you a sense of how the finished space will actually look and feel.

Photo by GoodNotes

4- Construction Documentation

The construction documentation is where I create all the documents that will be used to build the space. This includes construction drawings, specifications, and bidding documents. I will work with contractors and other professionals to ensure the project is built according to the plans including all permits, timelines and costs outlined within the budget. 

The construction documentation is a critical step in the interior design process. It’s important that I make sure all details are correct, as even a small mistake can lead to costly delays or even construction problems. 

The final design documentation, including drawings, specifications, schedules and timeframe become part of Studio Hinton’s contract with you –  the client.

Project management

5- Construction Administration & Project Execution

The construction administration & project execution stage is the final stage of the interior design process. In this stage, as a first step I’ll start placing purchase orders relevant to lead times to get materials on site at the right time. I oversee the installation of the space and ensure that it is built according to the plans. I make regular site visits to co-ordinate progress, inspect the quality of workmanship and resolve any on-site issues.  

All delivered goods are inspected and marked according to project and placement. Once construction and installation works are complete, I draw up a ‘Snag List’ of any defects to be resolved before movable furnishings, materials and accessories are installed. 

The construction administration stage can be a challenging but rewarding experience. It’s satisfying to see the project vision come to life and to know that I’ve helped create a space that will be enjoyed for years to come. 

Project Management

Evaluation of the 5 stages of Interior Design

The 5 key stages of Interior Design is a complex and time-consuming process, but each stage is essential to ensure the finished space is functional, aesthetically pleasing, and meets your needs. By following the five stages of the interior design process, Studio Hinton interior design projects create spaces that our clients can love for years to come.

After project completion, I always follow-up to measure the success of the design solution.  This typically involves an interview and walk-through inspection with the client. By ensuring there are project evaluations throughout the five stages of interior design, it limits the need to make any final updates during the POE; however, at any stage I will make adjustments and revisions to improve the final result. 

The best interior design process is a collaborative effort between the designer, the client and any other stakeholders such as contractors, architects, or consultants, to gather their input and evaluate the design from their perspectives. The great thing about working with Studio Hinton is that we can take most of the administration with all your different stakeholders off your plate by becoming a central contact for the project. 

As the designer I bring my expertise and creativity to the project, I consider other stakeholder expertise, technical requirements, and any potential conflicts with the design proposal. As your vision and input are essential and by working together – we can create a space that is both functional, aesthetically pleasing and, above all, unique to you! 

Entrance way with grand door and mirror
By Studio Hinton