In this short interview with our Creative Director Danielle Langlois, we explore the Interior Design process in detail to get a better understanding of exactly what’s involved at each stage of the process and how she brings spaces to life and emotions alive in each of her projects.

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Danielle, before we dive in, can you give us a simple definition of Interior Design and summarise the stages that you go through with each of your clients?

Yes of course! I like to think of Interior design as the practice of creating an interior environment that addresses the needs of the people using that space, whilst also corresponding to the architecture. As an Interior Designer, it’s my role to interpret and translate the client’s needs to a space plan, a design and then material selections to create a clear theme and flow.

Basically, there are four stages to any interior design project:

Stage 1 is the ‘getting to know you’ stage. Or, I like to think of it as the courtship phase of the process where we flesh out the scope of the project and do a deep dive into who you are and how you want to live.

Stage 2 is the planning stage. This is the nuts and bolts stage where the design and materiality of the project is established.

Stage 3 we call processing, and it’s where we send out all the approved designs for quoting and manufacturing.

Stage 4 is the ‘bringing it to life’ stage. It’s the cherry on top when everything comes to life onsite.

Amazing, so what happens at the first stage, the ‘getting to know’ stage, of the interior design process?

Well, a lot happens at the getting to know you stage! A lot more than people often think. Basically my job here is to observe relationships and distill my client’s end goal. So I ask a range of questions to get a really good understanding of my client and how they want to live. I like to explore their quirks and bugbears, what they want from the renovation, what inspires them, and how they define their style.

We also touch on how far they’re willing to step outside their comfort zone and explore alternate options. I find that the most successful projects are when the client gives over to the process and is willing to open up to other ideas (within their own personal style). This is, after all, why you hire an Interior Designer!

Ultimately the end goal is to ensure the house is bespoke to my client and how they want to live within it—so it’s important that they come prepared to talk about who they are and what they love to do with their time. Even things like hobbies can provide the starting point for creative and out-of-the-box ideas!

At the end of the ‘getting to know you’ stage, we present a mood board that will define the direction of the design and materials for the project. This needs to be approved prior to moving onto the design stage.

Ultimately the end goal is to ensure the house is bespoke to my client and how they want to live within it.”

It’s a really important stage to get ‘right.’ What happens when two parties have different interests and needs?

Yes, it is an extremely important stage. Actually, I really love it when there are two different interests and needs in the relationship! When two parties have different needs, I try to accommodate for both, where possible. Sometimes it comes down to compromise.

It’s important to listen to both parties and find a common thread that can be the baseline. We can then turn up or down the individual styles where appropriate. I’ve achieved some really interesting results this way!

And what about budget? Is this important to discuss at the outset?

Yes, absolutely. We chat about budget from the very beginning. If my client is unsure, I can help establish a budget, if required. It’s important to set this budget prior to commencing any design work to ensure the scope of selections and design is managed.

After the getting to know you stage comes the ‘planning stage.’ What does this look like?

Space ultimately plays the main role in how we feel in a home, a well thought through space creates an ease of living and seamless flow. So first up is space planning. I like to think about how my client will move within that space, and how each of the rooms connects. I consider whether there needs to be a line of sight or whether it’s better to be separated. These decisions are based on our conversations from stage 1 and are the foundation of building a successful space.

Once the floor plan is established, we move into filling the space. Design concepts are presented with finish samples (i.e. flooring, cabinetry finish, stone) to bring life to the design. Once the concept and materials are approved, we move onto detailing the design and finalising the finishes schedule for handover.

“Space ultimately plays the main role in how we feel in a home, a well thought through space creates an ease of living and seamless flow.”

Next comes ‘processing.’ Can you summarise this stage for us?

In an Interior Design project, after the design and materials are approved, I hand over documentation (CAD drawings, fittings and finishes schedule) to the builder on the job. Our last client meeting is with the builder—going through the designs and finishes to ensure everyone is on the same page and to answer any questions. Langlois Design then takes on a consultancy role within the build, being available to the builder and joiner for questions and making site visits to go over any challenges that pop up.

Part of my job is being across all the different products on the market and ensuring I’m matching the best product with my clients’ style and budget. I have certain suppliers that are tried and tested but it doesn’t mean they’re always right for the job. It’s usually a case by case basis.

Obviously the budget is at the forefront the whole way through the process. There are certain areas I find we can dial back to get a more expensive finish in other areas that will create impact. The constant juggling of the budget and transparency to my clients is a large part of the job.

How long this stage takes to complete varies depending on the job, however it’s always longer than the client wants. Langlois Design always strives to set and manage our clients’ expectations when it comes to lead times.

And the final stage, the ‘bringing it to life stage,’ is perhaps the most fun stage! Would you agree?

It can be fun, but it can also be stressful! It’s really where everything comes to fruition, and I’m a perfectionist! However, for a client this is absolutely the most exciting stage as they start seeing all those months of conceptualisation and planning coming to life.

I strongly believe that as the Interior Designer it’s my job to take the anxiety and stress, out of this stage, so that my client can just enjoy the journey and their incredible end product.

Can you recall an interior design challenge that you faced on a project. How did you overcome it?

Every job has its own specific set of challenges and renovations always throw a curveball when you open the building up. The beauty of hiring an interior designer is that you don’t have to worry about those problems. Langlois Design is solution orientated so we’ll only come to you with the solution as opposed to the problem. Having worked on a number of different buildings (apartments, Queenslanders, brick) we have experience in what these buildings’ challenges and advantages are.

“Langlois Design is solution orientated so we’ll only come to you with the solution as opposed to the problem.”

What are some of your favourite responses when people see their transformed space for the first time?

Oh there have been so many over the years! A common line is “it’s better than I could have imagined!” Interior design is a visual media, so if you find it difficult to visualise things it can be a daunting process. We always ensure we give you as much support as needed to help in this area but at the end of the day your trust in Langlois Design to understand you and your needs is paramount.

What advice would you give to anyone who is considering involving an interior designer in their home renovation or improvement project? When is the best time to engage your services? And how do they get the best result?

Engage us early! It’s always better to engage us at the very beginning to ensure you get the full range of our expertise. The beginning stages are incredibly important as it sets the trajectory of the whole project. It’s important you have clear direction and goals to ensure a successful outcome. Trust is also a big player in a successful outcome. It’s a two-way street so making sure you have a connection from the start is important.

Yes, great advice! Thanks for your time today Danielle, this has been extremely helpful! Where can our readers go if they would like more information?

Yes, they can be in touch directly by phoning 0413 345 762 or through the Contact Us page on our website!

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