Anyone who is used to the traditional approach to interior design
may immediately question such a proposition but the idea has real
attractions and merits. Just how can a traditional interior designer
become a product sold at a distance by mail order or over the internet?
Traditional Interior Design
design is one of the visual and tactile arts. Its practitioners work
with fabric, wood, glass, metal and colour and the finished product
always needs to be seen and experienced to be fully appreciated.
Photographs rarely do justice to real room settings, which is why many
photographs of rooms are in fact staged settings in a photo studio.
Despite this, interior designers usually work in a logical and progressive way, starting with two key points:
room as it currently is. In particular those aspects which cannot
change, such as the direction of sunlight or position of a chimney.
The aspirations and goals of the client, including personal
taste, budget and the desire to retain certain items or themes from the
Traditionally, it may seem that an interior
designer somehow effortlessly absorbs the key points. However in
reality they are merely building up a clear mental picture, supported by
notes, photos, sketches and measurements.
Interior Design at a Distance
how can a designer build up a picture of a room without actually
visiting it? Well, it is entirely practical for much of the first stage
of the interior design process to be treated as a structured process.
This applies to capturing all the factual information about the existing
room which can be recorded on a survey form or questionnaire.
fact a survey form or questionnaire is a great tool for capturing the
client’s personal tastes, preferences and lifestyle aspirations. Often
partners living together have differing requirements, goals and tastes,
but one may be more assertive. If both use identical survey
questionnaires and then compare their thoughts it will help enormously
in reaching a suitable compromise less a lot of argument or suppressed
Even if two partners use this approach to interior design
and do agree a compromise, both sets of information would be analysed by
the interior designer so that the resultant design proposal will be
attractive to both parties, rather than a neutral watered-down design.
How does it work
more information the client provides about their room and tastes the
better the final design will be. It helps considerably if the client can
provide swatches or samples of fabric (e.g. from a three piece suite or
carpet) that are already in use or planned.
interior designer will appreciate it if the client collects magazine
clippings that illustrate styles that they particularly like and
dislike. These can be submitted with the survey or questionnaire.
Once the questionnaire is complete the client usually
packs this up with material samples, magazine clippings, room
photographs and sketch floor plans. The whole pack is sent to the
Based on the information received the designer
starts work putting together a personal plan for the client. Often the
designer will phone the client to make sure they understand the
requirements or clarify some detail. Also once the designer starts to
formulate a design they will run it past the client to test whether the
solution is a good match to the requirement.
Finally the designer
Mood board with samples of proposed fabric, carpet, paint, wood-work etc.
will formulate a detailed plan which will be sent to the client by post.
This may include some or all of the following:
Computer aided design of the room
Inventory of materials required; description, quantity, source and price.
the client receives their room design by post hopefully it will meet
all their requirements, but there is always room for refinement with the
designer. The client then has several options:
implement the design themselves. Perhaps they are confident at
decorating and "Do-It-Yourself" (DIY) but lack confidence in the design
process? The client would then source the materials and any help from
Alternatively they may be able to order some or all of the
recommended materials from the interior designer. Everything from a tin
of paint, through finished curtains, right up to items of furniture
could be delivered to the client's door!
A third possibility would be to revert back to a more
traditional interior design model. If the client really liked the design
that arrived by post they could still call in the designer to manage
the implementation on site, assuming the travelling distance was still
Why do interior design at a distance?
design is ideal for clients who are leading busy lives. Perhaps the
client wants to re-style their home but they spend most of their time
away on international business. In the normal course of business it can
be very difficult for the client and the designer to synchronise
appointments on site. Working by post, e-mail and phone can actually
speed up the process considerably.
Other clients are somewhat shy
or embarrassed at having an interior designer in their home. Perhaps
they feel the designer will criticise their existing home or their
taste. Interior design at a distance can be a good solution and it
certainly can break down barriers.
It may come as a surprise, but
mail order interior design can be a very cost effective way of getting a
unique personal interior design for your home.