How to begin designing

by | Jul 21, 2023 | Inspiration, Interior Design | 0 comments

Interior Design Theme

“The details are not the details. They make the design” – Charles Eames

They say every story has a beginning, middle and an end (and according to director Tim Burton, not necessarily in that order!). Interior design follows this same path; the beginning is the design phase, the middle is the installation phase, and the end is of course the finished home, ready to live in and enjoy for years to come. 

Here is how as interior designers we begin designing for our clients, or how you can begin designing for your own home. 

If you’re a regular visitor here, you’ll know by now that with every new design, there is a detailed client brief that begins during our initial consultation verbally and continues with supporting imagery, for example, a Pinterest board (we can even share a board together), magazines or online sources, wherever inspiration can be found. Once I understand the client’s needs, from practical living solutions to requests for specific features, favourite colours, the list is finite, we can begin the design process.


Interior Design Colour Scheme

Colour Scheme First

As we begin designing, it’s important to first define the colour palette that we will use throughout the different spaces in the home; there should be a link between the colours in all of the rooms, even if this is just a few touches colours here and there. There is always a story behind a colour scheme, some clients may want something more neutral with just accents of colour, others are excited to work with a lot of colour, and we cater to both. 

After decades of working in interior design, one of my design strengths definitely resides within the ability to easily put together different colours and textures, it’s a skill that comes naturally to me. Read more about Colour & Interior Design.

Creating the ‘Canvas’

Ultimately (once the colours have been decided) we begin with the ‘canvas’, the space or spaces we are working within. If we are starting a scheme that needs hard finishes as well, for example redesigning a kitchen or bathroom, or re-purposing existing rooms to create new, more suitable spaces, this is where we begin. 

We define the finishes that will form our ‘canvas’, such as the finish for the different flooring (tiles/timber/both), kitchen benchtop, wall colour/paint and perhaps a vanity for the bathroom. Once we have selected all of the finishes for key items, we can then work out the detailing on the joinery, for example using the profile of the chosen benchtop. 


Interior Design Themes
Marylou Sobel Sydney Interior Designer on site

For the hardware, we would already know from the brief whether we are working with chrome or antique brass… we are always considering the lighting of a space at the same time as practical elements such as electrical outlets or switches. Even creating the canvas for interior design has countless different elements to consider, which should all work harmoniously together to create a timeless, high-quality outcome. 

“Design is so simple. That’s why it’s so complicated” – Paul Rand

Starting with fabrics… 

I often begin my designs with fabrics, before I have even chosen the furniture. It’s important to note that I will already have an idea or know what furniture is required for that space, for example, a bed/bedhead for the bedroom, with bedside tables, a chair or wardrobes, but it is during our cultivated design process that all of this comes together, nothing is designed in isolation. We draw out plans for each room for furniture layouts when starting with soft furnishings, which can also be when the hard fixtures already exist, being indicative of what is going to go there. 

I will know the genre of the furniture too, for example contemporary, French-inspired, mid-century modern, but I will always start with the fabric (more often than not!). While I am gathering potential fabrics, it is important to consider where it would suit the room, for example, a curtain or blind, a chair or chaise, depending on the furniture that the room needs will determine how many fabrics I need for the space.

The Relais Christine, Paris - Bedroom Design
Marylou Sobel Sydney Interior Designer at showroom

I get a lot of pleasure and inspiration from visiting our favourite showrooms, explaining the project and browsing through potential fabrics. When you find that amazing, really special piece of fabric, when there is something about it that attracts my attention, this can become the hero piece for the room. Like in the bedroom, a serendipitous piece of fabric could be perfect for a bedhead, or at the opposite end used for simple scatter cushions that will provide an impact.


Interior Designer Tip – when selecting fabrics, ensure that the pattern or design would work with the piece of furniture or soft finish that you are using it for. You need to ensure that the pattern would work well with the shape, and work well for the size, for example, you wouldn’t use a large pattern on a small piece of furniture such as a dining chair,  but it may be beautiful for a curtain or bedhead. 

Cohesive Interior Design Outcomes

We’ve covered hard and soft finishes, but let’s not forget the importance of the different teams that make these designs come to life. We work with a variety of Trusted Trades on our projects, and during the design process, we are considering who would be used to manufacture, upholster, and install the various elements that go into the design. All of our designs are process driven, in a thoughtful, considered and methodical manner. 

When we present our final designs to our clients, we use advanced graphic design programs to show how each room will look and feel. And this isn’t a ‘guide’ to provide a ‘rough idea’ of the outcome but includes all of the items that have been absolutely selected for that project. During the presentation we show our clients all of the finishes that will be used in each space in a white tray, showing them the fabrics, hard finishes, hardware, while providing absolute costs at the same time. 

“Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous” – Ralph Caplan

If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to redesigning your home, then please contact our studio to see if we will be able to help. 

Interior Design TV Unit Joinery Design
Interior Design TV Unit Joinery Design
Interior Design TV Unit Joinery Design

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