I am often asked this question and honestly it depends on who you’re hiring and what their expertise is, but most often my response is to engage a designer before the drawings are complete. It makes sense if you think it through, as a designer we’re looking at mainly the interior and the function of the space. We anticipate future needs and envision the space in 3D even in the early phases.
Typically, I do a preview of the floorplan and return to my client with a list of questions and/or concerns. Sometimes I have a concern about space for adequate furnishings, cabinetry layouts or door and window placement. Other times, I have concerns about the flow of space which needs a larger overhaul of the plan. The earlier in the process changes are made the less financial impact is has and the less chance for someone to have the “wrong set” of drawings on-site. Believe me, it happens often.
**The original version of the above plan was not my drawing. This plan was my modification to an architect's work to include a dog bath/larger laundry, front office, re-locate powder room, add pantry, add cabinetry space, add two-sided fireplace with folding doors, and re-work master bathroom/closet.**
After the first plan review and changes are recommended & made, I start to work with my clients on larger material selections. We start looking at the concept design for the whole home and selections such as flooring, kitchen cabinetry, fireplaces and feature elements. Then, we start narrowing in on each individual room or space.
I often help with and recommend lighting, outlets and switch placements. I also try to be sure the contractor has what they need to be able to install materials according to the plan I’ve come up with my clients. This often comes in the form of a job-site binder. This binder includes material selections, drawings, dimensioned floor plans and more!
Once the “hard surface” selections are made, we move on to furnishings, window treatments, rugs, artwork and accessories. These are often what people think of as the scope of work for an interior designer. It’s a much more cohesive home when a designer is included earlier on in the process to help plan how the hard-surface materials will work with these softgoods.
If you’re planning on building a new home, I’d love to help but don’t wait too long, successful designs start when I’m involved in the very early phases. Reach out by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org