At Interior Alchemy, the third phase in our process is to DREAM.  Having explored the goals of the project and defined the problems, we are now ready to begin the creative exploration of conceptual design solutions to those problems. A well-designed project is the sum of thousands of complex elements and decisions coming together to solve a problem. How those elements and decisions come together are explored and tested during the DREAM phase.

The goal of the DREAM phase is to design the solution by exploring creative possibilities, and select which design concept will address the goals of the project so that we can further develop the best design during the next DEVELOP phase.

Dream Phase Steps

Draft Floor Plan(s)

This is the stage where we begin to use our creativity and explore the possibilities to give you the best design solution for your project. The ultimate goal for the end of the DREAM phase is to get to one agreed-upon floor plan which lays out the location of everything else which we will build upon in future stages.  But getting there is an iterative process involving the exploration of many design solutions.

This step in the process will take into account how work is performed in the space and how adjacent space is related. We consider furniture placement, materials, and other components of the space to consider all of the ramifications of meeting the goals uncovered during the programming DEFINE phase.  To achieve the best functional solution, we may begin the design process by using hand-drawn sketches, bubble diagrams, adjacency plans, computer renderings, and other design tools to explore the benefits and problems that a proposed layout may provide.

Bubble Diagrams of an office

Depending on the scope of the project, we may test theories about which elements require absolute positioning and which elements require adjacency.  For example, in a kitchen remodel, the dishwasher must be located directly adjacent to the sink for optimal performance.  But, that sink may be able to located anywhere in the kitchen. Just because the sink and dishwasher are currently located in the island, doesn’t mean they should remain in the island.  It may make more sense from an efficiency perspective to relocate the sink close to the upper cabinets and drawers which will ultimately be used to store dishes, glassware and silverware.  During this phase, we explore placing the sink in several locations around the kitchen to determine which placement makes the most sense from a functional perspective, and what benefits are attained and problem arise by placing the sink at several locations and then evaluating them.

The creative exploration of potential solutions for organizing your space is how we test and discover the best design concept to meet your goals and solve your problems.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

Henry Ford

We will collaborate with entire project team (you, your architect, contractors, as needed) to verify that our solutions can be built.  This is also the time when we may consult with special consultants, such as an engineer, or an audio/video specialist, or a security systems expert, depending on the scope of the project.

During this time, we also build on our earlier preliminary code research.  As the design takes shape, it is important to go back and reference codes as design assumptions change.

Present Initial Floor Plan(s)

It is important that, at every stage, you are engaged in the design process because you are part of the design team.  The layout of the project may change several times as we work with you to find the best way to accommodate the program and meet your objectives.

Sometimes, a clear layout winner emerges and we (the entire project team, including you) agrees early on.  Sometimes, Interior Alchemy may provide 2 or 3 different possible floor plans for you to react to.  In some cases, there are several different directions the design can go, and it is critical to obtain your feedback before proceeding.

We typically present our initial inspiration, design concepts and layout in person to you and we discuss the design decisions we made to get there.

Interior Design Services

This discussion sometimes includes budget, code or compliance reasons for certain decisions.  Whatever the reasons for choosing the things we did, the natural process is that you respond to our presentation by asking questions and challenging our design ideas if you disagree with them.  If we made a decision you don’t understand, this is the time to explore it.  We are designing for you – you have to occupy the space and you must feel as though you belong there.

In nearly all cases, your feedback will merit additional revisions to the layout.  We typically include 3 client revision rounds in our process.  Additional revision rounds can be made, if necessary, but are typically billed as additional services and may affect project budget and timelines.  We have found that taking the time to thoroughly understand the project goals on the front end during DISCOVER and DEFINE drastically reduces the number of revisions.  If we need to go to a 4th or 5th round of revisions, it is typically because a client has changed their minds about an element of the design and we are attempting to adjust for the new information.  Further, unlimited revisions serves to eat up the design budget unnecessarily and causes delays in the project completion.

The goal for this round of revisions is for you to pick one layout you like the best and let us know everything you’d like to see changed.  The 2nd round of revisions can then be used to make sure we’ve understood your modifications, and round 3 will be about fine-tuning the small details.

Image Credit: Interior Alchemy – Example of basic inal floor plan. Copyright 2019

Floor Plan Selection and Revision Round 1

If more than one floorplan is shared, it will be important to pick your favorite before moving on to more design time.  Picking your favorite floor plan can also include elements of one floor plan merged with elements of another floor plan,  But ultimately, the idea to to get to the best layout which solves your major design problems so that we can continue to develop them until they are the best they can be.

In nearly all cases, the client feedback at the initial presentation will merit additional revisions to the layout.  We typically include in our process three client revision rounds.  Additional revision rounds can be made, if necessary, but are typically billed as additional services and may affect project budget and timelines.  The reason for this is that we have found that by taking the time to thoroughly understand the project goals on the front end during DISCOVER and DEFINE drastically reduces revisions.  If we need to go to a fourth or fifth round of revisions, it is typically because a client has changed their minds about an element of the design and we are attempting to adjust for the new information.  Further, unlimited revisions serves to eat up the design budget unnecessarily and causes delays in the project completion.

The goal for this round of revisions is for you to pick one layout you like the best and let us know everything you’d like to see changed.  We will try our best to make every change requested, but it is important to understand that there may be limits to achieving everything on your wish list.  Timelines, budgets, existing conditions, space parameters, and codes are just a few of the reasons we may not be able to meet all of your requested changes.

The 1st round of revisions should be used to make sure large elements are related to one another as you want them to appear in the final design.  For example, in a kitchen remodel, we might switch the locations of the sink and range, or move the refrigerator to the other side of the room. Waiting until a second or third round of revision to let us know that you want to move major appliances would result in additional design time.

Once Revision Round 1 is complete, we will share the revised designs with you for consideration and evaluation.  The revised plans may be shared with you via email, online conference, or webinar.

Floor Plan Revision Round 2

After we incorporate the revisions from Round 1, we will share the Round 2 layout with you, and just as before, you can challenge us and ask questions. The second round of revisions should be used to make sure we’ve understood your requested changes from Round 1, and make any other changes required to get the layout the way you want it, because Round 3 should be about fine-tuning the small details rather than moving major elements around the space.

For example, in a kitchen remodel, Round 2 Revisions might be switching the dishwasher to the left of the sink, rather than to the right of the sink, or changing a pantry door from a 36-inch door to a 30-inch door.

After you share your changes with us, we will go back to the studio and rework the design with your changes in mind.  We may also call the design team or research additional codes if your modifications merit reaching out to verify design elements.

Once Revision Round 2 is complete, we will share the revised designs with you for consideration and evaluation.  The revised plans may be shared with you via email, online conference, or webinar.

Floor Plan Revision Round 3

After we incorporate the revisions from Round 2, we will share the Round 3 layout with you.  During this round, look to check if we have met your expectations.  Your Round 3 revision requests should be about fine-tuning the small details rather than moving major elements around the space.

The third round of revisions should be used to make sure we’ve captured all the nuances of your design program.  For example, in a kitchen remodel, we might be changing a base cabinet run from three 36″ wide cabinets to three 24″ and one 36″ base cabinet,

We will go back to the studio again and make additional changes to the design.

Once Revision Round 3 is complete, we will share the revised designs with you for consideration and evaluation.  The revised plans may be shared with you via email, online conference, or webinar.

We will ask that you sign off on the design concept and final layout so that we can begin to further develop the winning design.

Image Credit: Interior Alchemy – Mood board / Inspiration for master bedroom project. Copyright 2019

Research Codes

Even though we have been keeping building codes in mind throughout the conceptual design process and checking in periodically on how changes to the design will affect code compliance, this is the point at which we finally have a concrete floor plan to measure and verify against building codes.  Now that we have a general understanding of how the final space will be configured, we can review applicable codes and begin making decisions so that our design will comply with codes and other restriction requirements of the project.

Estimate Initial Project Investment

Once we achieve client sign off and approval of the design concept and final layout, the entire project team will finally have an understanding of what will need to be built out, what that will cost and how long it will take. We will know how many sinks, how many light fixtures, how many square feet of countertops we will need, etc.

We will use this information to develop our first Estimated Initial Project Budget, narrowing down the wide range in the Estimated Preliminary Project Budget Range.  While this will help you see how the final project costs are shaping up, this is not a quote or promise.  At this stage, we still do not know if the range you end up choosing will be a $2,000 range or a $30,000 showpiece range but, by now, we should have a pretty good estimate of the kind of finishes and quality of appliances going into this project. Additionally, we will likely already know that you want, for example, a stone countertop of some sort and wood floors.  And narrowing that down can give us a pretty good idea of where the project costs are heading.

Estimate Initial Project Timeline

At this time, we may also adjust the timeline because we will start to understand just what kind of modifications will need to happen to your existing space.  If, during the previous steps, we have decided that we aren’t moving walls and don’t need a building permit, then that decision will impact the timeline by reducing it.

While we still cannot determine the precise availability of contractors, control how long it takes to have permits issued if needed, or know if the you are going to be choosing ready-made finishes or custom fabrics and tilework, we can still update this schedule with the known information we do have and use it to make future decisions which will have an affect on the targeted project completion date.

Depending on the scope of the project or how decisive you are, the DREAM phase may take a couple of weeks or or over a month to land on one final approved layout and functionality of the space.

With a final functional design plan in place, we will proceed to the DEVELOP phase where we continue to develop your chosen design and select materials, fixtures, and furnishings.

20%

Percentage of Designer’s Total Project Work

The Dream phase typically comprises approximately 20% of the designer’s total project work and, at the completion of this phase, the designer’s role in the project will be approximately 30% complete.

30%

Percentage of Design Work Completion