Taking on a DIY design project, part one

by Patricia Cove
Posted 10/8/20

The summer months are usually quiet when it comes to starting new design projects.  People are vacationing, spending much time outdoors, or just not thinking about complicated interior …

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Taking on a DIY design project, part one


The summer months are usually quiet when it comes to starting new design projects.  People are vacationing, spending much time outdoors, or just not thinking about complicated interior work. 

The Fall, however, is a time when just the opposite occurs.  People spend more time inside, start to think about the holidays and the kitchen that needs remodeling, the bathroom that could use an update, or any other room that is looking tired, and may just need a new paint color. 

When that happens, many will head to the internet to research what is new in bathroom design, the latest in kitchen appliances or even how to mix modern furniture within a historic home.

Some people are even brave enough to go so far as to place orders through these websites and hope for the best. Others realize that design and architecture are very complex practices and understand they may need guidance when it comes to complicated projects like renovating a kitchen, updating a bathroom or just selecting new furniture for a new living room layout.

Some place decision confidence in their general contractor, which could prove extremely beneficial or extremely hazardous, depending on how design conscious the contractor really is.

There are just so many avenues an individual can take and so many important questions to be answered when starting a new design project.  These avenues and critically important questions can make the difference between a project that can become a complete nightmare and one that develops into a complete success.

Let’s start with the internet. This resource is invaluable when it comes to research, product information, specific images, opinions and reviews.  It can be a terrific starting point when an intricate interior project is ahead by providing options and great information for everything from design styles, to the thread count in specific fabrics. It can be so helpful that one might get really brave and decide to order a few chairs or even a sectional online. That is where I recommend putting on the brakes.

Online companies want to make a sale. Period.  Their “customer service” squad may even work on commission, so they will not ask you how wide your doorway is to confirm that a 40-inch-deep sofa may not fit through your 36-inch-wide doorway.  They will not tell you that the sage fabric you selected only looks “sage” on your computer screen and it is really closer to lime.  And they will definitely not tell you that, although the cushions are described as “down and foam filled,” they are really as hard as a rock. And once the delivery truck has arrived and you realize that the lime green sectional will not fit in your living room, you will remember that this sectional was made just for you, and the company will not be taking it back.

And so it goes, when you risk placing an order from an online shop. Of course, there are legitimate and very helpful companies online.  You just have to make sure you know all the right questions to ask, because the less amount of information you are given, the better it is for the online seller. Beware!

If your interior project is one of a more involved nature, like kitchen renovating, for example,  many individuals will defer to the General Contractor rather than consulting with a  designer or architect to devise the best layout, and to  help in cabinet, appliance, hardware, and finish selections.  Many general contractors are quite experienced and very helpful in these major decisions.

Some, on the other hand, do not want to even get involved in design selections, and if they do, they may only provide you with  one source for all these major components, resulting in your missing out on so many more options available from sources they did not suggest.

Certainly, the most economical way to coordinate and manage a design project is the very trendy “Do It Yourself” method, more commonly known as DIY.  It is the very savvy consumer who is able to navigate through websites, visit the showrooms that display a myriad of materials, colors and finishes, determine appropriate sizes, amounts and necessary construction requirements that must become part of the order, so that all will work seamlessly when it comes time to install. Doing all of this while at the same time making sure that all of the selections are compatible and coordinated, resulting in a well-designed and cohesive project.

Is this process really as complex as I make it sound?  Yes, it is!  And I salute those that can take it on and still remain sane at the end of the project. But for those of you who need an easier path, one that completes all the leg work for you while giving you the ability to participate in the process, resulting in a gorgeous outcome without the stress, anxiety and, worst of all, economical disasters, stay tuned. There is more to come.

To be continued.

Patricia Cove is Principal of Architectural Interiors and Design in Chestnut Hill and can be reached through her website: www.patriciacove.com.


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