Our purpose as Interior Designers is to make this journey less intimidating, easy to follow along and to show you ideas that you may not have thought of. Unexpected expenses and surprises are no fun for anyone! The examples below are for new homes, whether it is a resale home or a new spec home from a builder, who hasn’t customized the dwelling for the end user. The same principles apply if you have lived in your home for a while and haven’t really thought about some of these issues. Commercial spaces are different in that many more building codes need to be followed for the commercial space to open to clientele and/or the public. The most important thing to understand is that getting a project designed and built is a process and it takes time. .

The top 10 things to Think About in an Interior Design Project

1. What room(s) or areas are you wanting to change and why? For example, you have moved into a new home and the function of the space (i.e., kitchen, bedroom, den, etc) just feels off and doesn’t quite flow and feels awkward to move around in. Or it won’t work for your twelve kids, five dogs, and a turtle.

2. Do all the utilities and the structure work the way they are supposed to? Are there flickering lights, water stains, drafty windows and doors, leaky roof, screeching furnace or ac unit, squeaky staircase, etc? A well designed interior takes into account items that will enhance your space as well as the items already in the dwelling. If these specifics are not addressed, then they could potentially cost you more in the long run if they are not taken care of first. And NO ONE wants to see water stains on newly painted drywall from a leaky roof! These items are not the fun, interesting, sexy items in a design project. But they are equally, if not more, important and need to be considered!

3. Are there any unused spaces in your house that are not utilized to their potential? Do you have an extra storage space filled with useless junk? What would you do with an extra room that can be utilized to what you need?

4. Are any of the inhabitants sensitive to chemicals in the home? This applies to humans as well as pets! There may be hidden chemicals that you are unaware of. For example, when I was in junior high, I came home from school one day and my parents had changed out the carpeting (without telling us kids beforehand)…I quickly found out that I was allergic to the new carpet that night (which was actually from off-gassing from the carpeting and the padding/underlayment). My eyes were swollen shut for two days. Not fun!

5. What do you LIKE about the current space? What do you DISLIKE about the current space? Writing these items down will help with goal setting, in the beginning stages of design. Even if there are just a bunch of scribbles and random thoughts, it still helps with organizing your list!

6. What are you drawn to, in terms of colors, textures, patterns, styles, etc? There is no wrong answer to this question! Think of the items that catch your eye, those elements of design that you keep coming back to over and over again (this is your intuition speaking to you – listen to this inner voice!!). For me personally, I just LOVE anything animal or tribal prints and textures. So, go online and look for images that capture your ideal room, artwork, image, furnishings, etc. After a while, you will notice patterns and rhythms that stand out.
7. What are the priorities for the space? What are the most important items that need to be addressed? You may have 20 things on a list, but what is the most pressing issue that you need help with? How can a designer help you solve these problems? List the top 3 or 4 items that are of the most importance to you that NEED to be taken care of. These are considered the No Compromising items of your project.
8. From the Priorities of the Space, what steps need to be taken? Is this a project that needs to be implemented in stages? Or is this a total home/business gut job that you would like to finish all at once? If all at once, where are you going to store your items? Where are you going to stay/work while work is being done? Remember, construction is a messy production. There is hammering, drills, noises, dust, and strangers in your house. This is the chaos that many people do not anticipate during any design project.
9. What do things really cost? The ‘easiest’ way to do this exercise is to take a picture of a room, and list out all the items in that room. You can even go to a model home and take pictures of rooms that you like. Sit down in a room or at a desk away from that room and list out EVERYTHING, from the furnishings, finishes, outlet covers, ceiling lights, AC vents, moldings, etc. As these things are just the finishes and furnishings, there is also the added costs of actually construction that needs to be considered. Also prepare for contingencies…those pesky items that are unknown at the start of the project and are discovered once the project has begun…like finding out you need new electrical wiring after tearing open the walls to relocate a room and finding out the wiring isn’t up to current code (because it’s from the 1940’s) and can literally burn your house down from any type of spark.
10. Design is a Process! What people see on TV is an entire design completed in 44 minutes – remember, there are commercials/sponsors! In television shows, the design process is skewed for viewers. No one sees the behind-the-scenes work and preparation that goes into a design project. When I took a building codes class, the instructor was the lead Building Inspector for a city in the county. A very popular show had flipped five houses in his city…this particular show didn’t bother to get any building permits. The owner of one of the houses called the city to ask who built the house and why was his ceiling was drooping. After a little more investigation, the ceiling did not have the proper beams for the ceiling support. They had to redo the entire ceiling structure, along with replacing the insulation and prepping and painting the drywall. A great plan addresses all of these issues and helps to avert these disasters in the making!


Caryn Menches, Interior Designer | Modern Lotus Interiors

Caryn obtained her master’s degree in Interior Architecture from UCLA/Cal Poly Pomona; CA Certified Interior Designer #6813

Caryn Menches is a California Certified Interior Designer, a Holistic Health Practitioner and the Principal Designer/Owner of Modern Lotus Interiors in Orange County, California. Caryn’s design journey started as an insurance claims adjuster inspecting and estimating losses for Residential Properties throughout the country for nearly a decade. She was very hands on in this role, often climbing roofs or crawling around buildings! This experience gives Caryn that “extra edge” and definitely a step above in her field, as she truly has an expert knowledge of building codes, construction protocols, building materials, and more. Caryn has a master’s eye for what building inspectors and contractors look for and need in order to complete a project. Caryn also infuses her knowledge of holistic healing into every space. Also a Practitioner of Holistic Medicine, this special niche is Caryn’s way of helping to bring about a healthier space for your lifestyle. Caryn designs Hospitality and Residential properties throughout the Southern California area with an emphasis on restorative, healing spaces. Caryn can help bring your interior design visions to life.

Learn more about working with Caryn Menches of Modern Lotus Interiors through her eDesign Tribe member profile!

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