After the article, be sure to check out Kathy speaking on how she started her interior design business here.
Let’s cut to the chase: no one hires a designer who can’t present his or her ideas. It’d be like hiring a chef who can’t cook or a singer who can’t sing. Luckily, we happen to be experts in visually presenting ideas to clients, so today’s article will focus on just that. We’ll preface by saying that every interior designer is different. Not every designer approaches design the same way. Below, we’ve outlined some of the strategies we’ve found useful while constructing design schematics for our design projects, but make sure to let us know your own thoughts and strategies in the comment section below!
What is a design schematic?
A design schematic is not the same thing as a mood board. Let’s start there. A mood board is an arrangement of images, materials, textures, fonts, and colors that evokes the style of a project or concept. For many, a mood board is the springboard for design creativity. The mood board you create should be an organized display of your thoughts and ideas, and as an end result, a board should then be a useful tool you can use to effectively communicate your design ideas to your client. A mood board is what you’ll typically receive from a decorator, stylist, or e-design website (Except for our Design Bar. We provide design schematics, which we’ll explain in detail next).
A design schematic is a complete room design similar to a mood board, but it includes a floor plan with furniture and decor laid out to scale. This is important to have for clients who aren’t just looking to update their home with some new wallpaper. With a design schematic, you can show your clients the exact location and dimensions of every piece in their home in addition to architectural details and appliances. A design schematic provides clients with trust, and it’s what you’ll receive from us here at the KKH Design Bar or at another professional interior design firm.
Why a design schematic?
Mood boards are an ideal tool for editing down your design. You are able to mix and match design elements and remove and add ideas with ease. The design schematic is then the next step in which you can lay out your design in a comprehensible way. It also serves as a method for brainstorming or collaborating with clients and other architects and designers if need be. One of the most difficult parts of interior design, especially for your client, is envisioning what a space is going to look like at the end. The design schematic is a great solution for this problem.
How to Present a Board to Your Client:
Step #1 – Getting Started
At the Kuotes, we like to start with a color that inspires us, a piece of fabric we’re fawning over, or even a photograph of our travels. But really, the opportunities are endless. Start with whatever it is that inspires you, be it a work of art or an outfit you find on a fashion blog. Where does our inspiration come from? Everywhere! But we curate all of our favorite pieces all on our site in seven unique collections: French Country, Industrial Loft, Modern Classic, Coastal Beach, Hollywood Regency, Rustic Lodge, and Global Bazaar. Another strategy is to use Pinterest to gather ideas for inspiration. Head over to our Pinterest page for plenty of design inspiration!
Step #2 – Lay Out Your Room
In our opinion, it is important for a board to include the layout of the room. A layout provides the container for your creativity and allows for accurate furniture placement and scaling. Creating your room layout can be completed in several ways, and your method should be dictated by your own preferences and skills. Our friend Philip Mitchell does FREAKING AMAZING hand sketches of his spaces. However, if sketching isn’t your forte and you want everything to scale, many designers put together a comp in AutoCAD or Rhinoceros 3D. These are computer programs used by many designers to map out rooms and accurately place furniture. We always encourage our readers to learn more and take classes in programs like AutoCAD; however AutoCAD is very technical and difficult to use without some proper training. If interior design school isn’t for you, we highly recommend the tutorials and lessons on Lynda.com. Or, just reach out to us at the Design Bar at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can create a to-scale design schematic for you!
Step #3 – Highlight Fabrics, Colors, and Materials
Go through fabric and color swatches and pin them to your board. Form an idea of which fabrics and materials are going to go with which piece. As designers, we frequently get questions like: What color should I use? What will this color look like in the room? Boards are the perfect solution for showing your client color in relation with other items they like. You should also include any floor tile, rug or upholstery material, or pattern that you want to highlight. Just call our office, and you can request fabric swatches and wood and upholstery samples from Kathy Kuo Home to help you decide on what’s best for your design.
Pro Tip: Some designers like to build a hierarchy into their boards. For instance, if you really want a piece of tile you adore to be the standout aspect of the room, attach it to a piece of foam board and place it on the board so that it stands in the forefront and more prominently than your other design elements. Other designers, such as our own Kathy Kuo, like to actually create separate boards for plans, fabrics, products, etc.
Step #4 – Add Product!
The last step is to add personality to your board with standout furniture pieces or accessory items. Our advice? Don’t feel the need to put every last piece of product on the board. Just place the furniture and accessories that define the design aesthetic (unless you’re doing a full mockup). Oh, and of course… shop Kathy Kuo Home 😉
Digital Board vs. Hard Board
Make sure you know how your board is going to be presented. Will you be meeting your client in person, or do they want the board to be emailed and sent to a team of people? The answer will decide whether you produce an offline or online board. The distinction is not trivial. A physical handmade board will generally be more freestyle and require the extra visual bells and whistles to make it interesting to a client. An online design board should be tight and very easy to process, using clean lines and exact dimensions and scale (basically, a design schematic).
Pro Tip: When making a physical design board, don’t be afraid to get… physical with it. Cutting up foam board and spray mounting cut-out images and swatches can be a bit of a chore, but it can be a powerful presentation tool (especially for older, more traditional clients). The tactile nature of collage-style design boards also enhance the tactile and emotive experience for your client. Use smaller foam board for larger corporate clients because your board will likely need to be left behind and passed through multiple hands and departments.
What is KKH’s method?
Since we’re in the digital era, we typically present a digital design schematic as a PDF in addition to supporting tear sheets. Our favorite way to meet with clients is over a Skype or Join.Me call. Using this method, we can actually share our screen and literally orient and spin furniture around in real time and real scale until we’re both happy with the result. Do you need design help? Reach out to our Design Bar to get started on your next project with our full interior design services.
Get even more insight with Kathy on her guest appearance in”A Well-Designed Business”