I’m a systems girl. I love having a process and a checklist to complete. And over the past few years as an interior decorator, I’ve found that my clients like knowing “what comes next” in the process. After studying Kimberly Seldon’s Business of Design program, I’ve since adapted her 15-Step process in to my own. Today’s post is to take you, my future or current client, through my Bluestone Signature Design Process and explain how it benefits you.

The Bluestone Interior decorating 15-Step Signature Design Process

The Bluestone Signature Design Process Keeps You Informed

The hardest part of a decorating project for my clients is the unknown. It can be stressful to redecorate a room or an entire house. You aren’t sure how long it will take to complete. You cannot see inside my brain and know exactly how it’s all going to come together. You want to know how this is going to affect your wallet, when money needs paid, and who on earth is going to hang that new chandelier. I’m happy to tell you, it’s all covered and you’ll know right up front what you can expect when you hire me to handle your project.

Signature Design Process Step #1 – The Consultation

Your First Step when you want to hire an interior decorator: A ConsultationEvery single project begins with the Consultation. Whether it’s a DIY project you’re looking for guidance on, or a full house remodel. It all starts here. This is an opportunity for you to meet me, show me your space, and get immediate feedback on how I’m looking at handling different problems you’ve encountered. You can read more in-depth about Consultations by clicking this link.

Signature Design Process Step #2 – The Contract

At the end of our Consultation, if you are looking to hire me for the project, we will sit down together and review my contract. I’ll go over it line-by-line with you and resolve any questions you may have before you sign. I charge a flat rate per room for my design fees, and you will know before we begin exactly how much that will be. No surprise bills show up in the mail. Most clients are ready to get started immediately by this point and ready to sign the contract that day. I do require a 50% deposit of design fees the day the contract is signed, so please be prepared for that. I also allow you a 3-day Right of Cancellation should you feel you need it.

Bluestone Decorating Signature Design ProcessI’m also going to give you HOMEWORK. Yes, you have an obligation to meet here as well. You’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire (and your spouse/significant other if you have one has to do this too!) as well as a budget worksheet. I need to know more about you, your tastes, your style, how your family lives in the room(s), and what you like or dislike when it comes to colors & patterns. I want to know your comfort level with purchases. Sometimes I meet a client who wouldn’t spend $500 on a rug, but has no problem spending $5000 on a piece of art. I cannot move forward with your project unless I have this information, and yes, I want it in writing so I can refer back to it often later.

It will also give you a chance to examine your budget. You can start to see how things are going to add up and what we will be able to achieve based on the amounts you’re determining as you fill out the worksheets.

Once I’ve received your homework back, I can get started on designing your dream home.

Signature Design Process Step #3 – Trade Day

This is one of the most exciting parts of the process. After I’ve had a chance to review your homework and my notes from our Consultation, we will schedule Trade Day. This can be an all-day event, and honestly, I will politely ask you to not be present. Just let me in the door in the morning.

Before: The Highland County Farmhouse Living Room
This is one of many photos I took of the Farmhouse on Trade Day. Not only does it act as a “Before” photo, but I can look back and remember details like the location of outlets, lighting, vents, and doorways.

This is when I will start taking all of the measurements I’m going to need. I will review my notes to know what pieces will be staying in the home, and I’ll get measurements of those as well. I will know more about your home than you do. I will take a ton of photos that I can refer back to when necessary.

I will also schedule ALL of the Tradesmen that will be required to complete your project to come that day as well, in intervals. If we’re painting, the painter will come in and see the space and get his measurements. The electrician. The guy installing the floors or tile. The seamstress who does my custom window treatments. Anyone and everyone who will be necessary to complete your project. I have found that this method works best for my clients, as it’s the least disruptive to your life, and maximizes my time on-site.

During this time, I will brainstorm with my amazing team of tradesmen & women. I will tell them my ideas, and they’ll tell me if they know a better way. Or if they think I’m crazy. They get their own detailed measurements that they’ll need to do their jobs properly and see your space firsthand. The trades I work with are the best, I trust them implicitly. You won’t find better quality work or attention to detail than the folks who contract with me.

Signature Design Process Step #4 – Behind-the-Scenes Design Work

This is the agonizing part for most clients. You cannot see the work that is taking place, but this is when the vision starts coming together.

After Trade Day, each of my tradesmen submit proposals to me. I start putting it all together with the wishlist & budget you have given me. And I begin the process of sourcing.

All of the furnishings, fixtures, paint colors, tile, window treatments, rugs, and every other detail will be sourced during this time. I’ll have costs in-hand and ready for you. Each of these items will fall within the range you specified on your budget worksheet. I’ll know lead times for ordering custom products, such as upholstery.

This process can take 4-6 weeks for me to complete if we’re doing several rooms. Please be patient, it will be worth it. I will update you weekly via email as to where I’m at in the process, but I will not share any details with you during these check-ins. Those are held for the next step of the signature design process…

Signature Design Process Step #5 – THE PRESENTATION

The Presentation Meeting is one of THE most exciting parts of your design project. You get to see what I’ve pulled together for you. We schedule this meeting at my home office, during business hours, and I have everything organized and ready for you to view for yourself. If you’re married or have a live-in partner, they must attend this as well. Nothing is worse than finding out later that your spouse didn’t like something.

At this meeting, you’ll get to see the floor plans with the furniture arranged in each room. Mood/Concept boards with the items I want to include all pulled together in to a cohesive picture. Actual paint colors that will be used. Fabric samples. Tile samples. Chandeliers or lamps that I have included. Everything down to door knobs when necessary.

Concept Board by Bluestone Decorating - Step 4 of the Signature Design Process
This is the actual Concept Board for the Master Bedroom that my client was able to see at the Presentation Meeting, Step 4 of my Signature Design Process.

What if you hate it? Well, if I’ve done my job correctly in assessing your needs from your worksheet, you’re going to LOVE it. But I do let you have one revision if for some reason I’ve missed the mark. Maybe you didn’t tell me that you hate green, and I used green. This is why we go over everything in detail before anything is purchased.

At this meeting, you’re going to bring your checkbook because we will have some financial details to cover. Your second installment of 25% of Design Fees is due today. You’ll need to pay 50% of all Tradesmen quotes at this time. And we’re going to review the Purchase Orders of all items I need to acquire on your behalf, and those must be paid in full before I place any orders. I will not be able to tell you an exact date for Installation Day yet, but I may be able to give you a general idea of when I think it will happen.

Signature Design Process Step #6 – Placement of Orders and Scheduling of Trades

Once everything has been approved, purchase orders signed, tradesman orders signed, and payment received, I will move forward with placing orders and scheduling the work.

An Interior Decorator's Home Office

Again, you will receive weekly update emails from me for what is happening with your project. You will give me dates that I and my tradesmen may have access to your home so that I can develop our Installation Calendar with each Trade.

Signature Design Process Step #7 – Initiation of Trades

Warning: this part can be stressful! Depending on what we’re doing, your house is about to become a slight construction zone. Even painting can cause a lot of disruption, so please be prepared. These are what I refer to as “Labor Pains”. We’re about to bring your dream room in to the world, so practice your deep breathing, please.

The Bluestone Decorating 15-Step Signature Design Process

I will provide you with a copy of the Installation Calendar so you will know who will be working in your home on any given day, and what goal we are trying to achieve. I will stop by periodically on-site to check their progress and be 100% certain that everything is working out as we expect. If you have a concern at any point, please contact ME directly and I will discuss it with the Tradesman.

Signature Design Process Step #8 – Receipt of Orders by Bluestone Decorating

Some items may take several weeks to come in. Others may be delivered to Bluestone Decorating within a week. I will warehouse and store everything as it arrives, inspecting it for any damages whenever possible.

If an item needs assembled, or warehoused for extended periods of time, there may be assembly or warehouse fees. There may be a delivery fee for hiring the workmen necessary. I will have explained this during the Presentation Meeting, but I will remind you again during this time.

Signature Design Process Step #9 – Meeting to Review Budget & Future Planning

This meeting will take place with you at your home, and may overlap with Steps 7 & 8. We will review the work being completed by the Tradesmen, and final invoices are now due. This will include the 50% balance on the trade work; the 25% balance due on Design fees; any other costs that have arisen, as well as any credits in case I have gotten a better deal on an item I sourced or something came in under our expected cost. If there are warehousing or delivery fees, those should be paid at this time.

And here is the exciting part – we will set the date for INSTALLATION DAY!

Signature Design Process Step #10 – INSTALLATION DAY

This is the best part of the entire process. Once all of the Trades have completed their work, all of the fees are paid, and all of the items have been received and are ready for delivery, the big day arrives. Installation Day. That moment you’ve been waiting for has finally come.

Phi Mu Fraternity: The Sorority House Makeover at James Madison University by Bluestone Decorating.
The new sitting area in the Phi Mu Fraternity House at JMU. With custom window treatments and a palette of pinks, purples, and deep reds, this area allows for a formal sitting area yet relaxed conversation. Photography by Chris DeLoach.

I’m going to kick you out of your house. We will have discussed that earlier in the process, so this won’t be a surprise, but based on how many rooms you have hired me for it could take more than one day to bring it all together.

My crew of professionals will be there to clean the room, install the furnishings, hang art and window treatments, place rugs and lamps, and then Style your space. When you arrive at our appointed Reveal Time, it will be perfect and complete.

Signature Design Process Step #11 – The Big Reveal

After all of this time, you’ve been dreaming of what your home will look like. Now, you finally get to see it! When we schedule the Installation Day, we will also set an appointment for the actual time for you and your family to return home and see the completed space(s). Just like you’ve seen on HGTV – you get one of those moments! How exciting is that???

The Bluestone Decorating 15-Step Signature Design ProcessPrior to this, we will have talked about what Styling is, but here’s a quick synopsis: When I’m done, your home will be ready to photograph and be magazine-beautiful. I’m going to bring in all of the pieces necessary to achieve that. Because these items were not part of your original design budget, you have not been charged for them. I let you live with them for a couple of days, and then I’ll return and pack up anything you don’t want to keep. If you want to keep it, you’ll write me a check for the item(s) and they are yours. You are not obligated in any way to purchase those items unless something is broken or in non-returnable condition.

Signature Design Process #12 – Deficiencies Walkthrough

You thought it was over, right? Unfortunately not. Sometimes things happen. I might discover a scratch on a table that now needs taken care of. I don’t expect you to handle that – I will have (hopefully!) already found it, called my supplier, and started working on a resolution. But the LAST thing I want to happen is that you discover it yourself and have to call me with a problem. So if I’ve found something during the Installation, I will point it out to you, tell you how I’m handling it, and what your role may be in the situation. I always plan that this could happen, and pray that it doesn’t.

Signature Design Process #13 – Resolving Deficiencies

Bluestone Interior Decorating 15-Step Signature Design Process
Sometimes things happen. Trust that I will make them right before it’s all finished

This refers to the part in #12 as to what your role may be in the situation. I may need to schedule someone to pick up that scratched table and deliver a new one. Obviously I need to be on-site for that, and I will need access to your home. If there are any deficiencies, we will work through them as efficiently as possible.

Signature Design Process #14 & #15 – Client Closure Meeting & Binder

About a month after your project is completed, I will ask for one final meeting with you. I want to give you a binder with all of your warranty information; fabric samples and manufacturers should you need them; paint colors, etc. You’ll be happy to have this information should the need arise in the future. And of course, I’ve made one for myself as well, just in case, that will be kept in my files.

I would also like to take that time to get your feedback about the project and know that you’re satisfied with Bluestone Decorating and the project overall.

The Signature Design Process…

…keeps you in-the-know at all times. Allows me to work through a checklist and schedule your project efficiently. And most of all, eases the stress of redecorating your home. I want my clients to always feel relaxed and comfortable with the decision they have made to hire me to complete their homes.

The Bluestone Signature Design Process keeps your project on track, on time, and on budget

One final note!

If you are hiring me for only the Basic or Advanced levels of service, you’ll see that the Basic has only 8 steps and the Advanced has only 12 steps. Due to the nature of the services that clients want from me at those more budget-friendly prices, steps have been eliminated that may refer to purchasing, etc. I highly recommend my Premier service level with the full 15 Steps of the Signature Design Process but I do understand that not everyone is looking for that. When looking at those smaller services, please use the referenced name of the step and not the number.

Now that the fear of the unknown has been eliminated, and you know exactly what to expect when you hire Bluestone Decorating, I’d be more than happy to chat with you as to what you aren’t loving about your home. My number is (540) 271-2686. If you get my voicemail, please feel free to leave a message and I will call you back just as soon as my hands are free again.

Until next time… xoxo Crystal

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