The Design Process – A Step by Step Guide

Interior Design - step by step guide to creating a design concept like a professional designer.


Like most occupations, interiors designers have processes they work through in order to put together a design concept for a space. Their training provides them with the tools to interpret a client brief, put together a concept and resolve any problems with the design along the way.

But this does not mean you have to be professionally trained to apply the same steps and processes to a space in your home to put together a successful design.

Below I have put together a simple step by step guide you can follow to help you achieve that prefect space.

1. Analyse the Space

Ask yourself some questions about the space:

Who will be using the space?  – kids, adults.
What is the function is the space? – dining room, study etc.
What feeling do you want the space to have?  – Bright /airy or dark /cozy
What style do I want to incorporate? Mid Century, Country.

Typically a designer will have a questionnaire which they would use to establish as much information as they can on the clients wants and needs from a space, this will help guide the designer on the design ensuring it meets the clients requirements.

2. Consider Your Budget

Think about how much you have to spend on a space, it could be a large amount if you are working on a kitchen or bathroom renovation or relatively small amount if you are just updating a study or guest bedroom. Make sure you keep a good track of your expenditure just so you don’t over spend, a spreadsheet is the best tool.

Always shops around for pieces and if you can make use of the sales.

3. Do Your Research

The internet is a wealth of information, utilise websites like Houzz and Pinterest to understand the elements that make up the style you are aiming for. Look at the styles of furniture, the materials used and the colours that match your style.

4. Get Inspired

Use Pinterest to collect and save images of interiors, products and materials that catch your eye. Create boards to put them all together. This will help to show what elements are working and which are not. Check out some of my boards here.

5. Create a Mood / Concept Board

Take the elements that best suit the look you are aiming for and collate them together on a mood board. This does not nessesarily have to be images of interiors, it can be image of anything that inspires your design, you can even add text to help conjure up the feeling of the space.

The mood board is an important part of the design and should continuously be referred back to just to me sure you stay on track with the original design. Click here to read more about mood boards.

6. Collect Your Materials

Collect the materials and if possible obtain samples of the finishes you want to use, this could be paint chips from the hardware store, fabrics samples for upholstery and drapery or tiles and flooring.

These samples can be used to create another board (Materials boards), again this is useful tool to help see which elements are working in your design and which are not.

Following the above steps and sticking to your design concept at the Mood Board stage could save you money on purchases that just don’t fit with the look and style you are aiming for.