How to manage an interior design project

Project management covers the nitty-gritty, the planning, the organisation, so it isn’t all fun and games, but it’s an essential part of interior designand there’s nothing like the feeling of implementing a plan to create something new and beautiful.

Project management services are ideal if you are embarking on a full refurbishment project involving trades and time constrictions.

Make sure you’re on the same page

If you’re coordinating separate contractors (joiner, plumber, electrician etc), then it would be worth indicating who’s responsible for each task. Give a complete copy of the specification to all of them, so they’re all aware of what the others are doing as well as themselves. Discuss the specification with your contractors, as they may be able to provide help and advice. A schedule is also useful, so you can keep track of progress and everyone knows who’s going to be on site on which day.

With prior knowledge that a partition wall will feature some lighting, for instance, the builders will know to leave the stud frame open for the electrician to run the wires through before it’s boarded up and plastered over. Trying to feed wires through after the fact is much harder, takes longer and risks unnecessary damage.

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Plan like a pro

Definitely finalise your design before starting any work, rather than trying to do it as you go along. The process will be much more enjoyable without constant deadlines presenting themselves, and if you haven’t planned, you might find your options restricted based on work that’s already taken place.

Take a couple of weeks to put it all together, write your specifications, draw up the plans, get everything ready and make all the decisions before proceeding. This will save you time and money along the way and significantly reduce stress levels during the project.

This clever design features well-thought-out lighting and bespoke joinery. Careful consideration would have been given to where to position the sockets, radiators, lights, switches and all the other details

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Stand by for decisions, decisions…

Your builder will present many questions and decisions to you along the way. Which tiles do you want on the walls? Where do you want these wall lights? What colour do you want on the skirting boards?

Your best bet will be to try to pre-empt as many of these decisions as possible and have the answers ready, or, even better, provide the information in advance. Making these decisions under pressure can lead to impulse moves you may regret later. On the other hand, taking too long could hold up the project, costing you time, money and the patience of your builder. No one wants an unhappy builder.

Inevitably, there will be some questions you couldn’t have anticipated, but if you communicate well with your builder, they should – where possible – give you time to make a decision without holding up the project. Don’t be afraid to ask their opinion on the best course of action, but don’t feel pressured to compromise on the design if you don’t want to.

Give yourself time to deliver

This is one of the classic pitfalls, so take note. When pulling your design ideas together and deciding on which products and materials to use, make a note of the lead times. Many pieces of furniture are made to order and can have lead times of up to 12 weeks, sometimes longer. Similarly, tiles and natural stone can take much longer than expected to arrive and products from abroad can encounter hold-ups during transit.

This chandelier was custom-made for the project and looks fantastic. This is no last minute, off-the-shelf, next day delivery job. It can be a huge shame if you’ve spent hours, days, weeks choosing the perfect product, but when you come to order it, you find it will take too long to be delivered, perhaps time you can’t afford. Then you have to decide whether to hold up the work or pick something else based on the fact it can be delivered quickly.

Be prepared in advance for an unpredictable situation

Even with the very best of intentions, there will almost always be issues that arise during your project that you couldn’t have predicted. So it’s a good idea to factor in a 10% contingency within your budget for these matters, especially with old buildings. Who knows what condition the walls are in behind those kitchen cabinets before you rip them out? Or what might be lurking underneath that carpet when you pull it up?

In these situations, it’s important to expect the worst and don’t let it throw you off your game. You are a project manager extraordinaire and you’ve totally got this. Just accept these things happen, find out what the options are and make a decision. Your contractor will be able to advise on what to do, so harness their expertise and trust them to help you find the right solution.

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