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4 challenges interior designers face during a project

The construction phase of any project can be incredibly rewarding or Incredibly stressful. Here are some tips to keep any project on the tracks.

project management tips
4 challenges interior designers face during a project
Lori Bolon
July 14, 2022

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This article was originally posted on Making Space, a Substack penned by our Cofounder, Matteo Grand. Subscribe below to receive more content just like this.

If you’ve ever done a renovation before or work in the industry you will know something always goes wrong. It’s not always big and drastic but somewhere along the line there is a hiccup you have to overcome.This is why sometimes designers call themselves problem solvers first and foremost, because they are.


Whilst it is unrealistic to expect nothing to go wrong during your renovation, there are a few things you can do to try and minimise or forecast these problems.

Challenge 1: Unexpected Delays

If you’ve ever been given your building timeline it’s safe to say always add on a month or so depending on the size of the project. This isn’t always the builder's fault. Delays can come from suppliers, decisions not being made, unavoidable circumstances discovered when demolishing and often things just take longer than you expect. So, to manage client’s expectations with the building programme we suggest adding time to their project to cover yourself. It’s also important to work closely with the contractors' timelines and ensure you are working ahead of them. If instead it is the client that is taking long to make a decision, remind them of the possible delays their indecision may lead to. This often prompts them to focus on the issue and make a choice more readily.


It is always best to under promise and over deliver!

Challenge 2: Misunderstandings

Well, there is a lot of them during the design and construction process. With so many parties involved including designers, contractors, suppliers, clients and tradesman it’s bound to happen at some point. Even the most detailed drawings and technical plans can be misunderstood, so don’t be fooled thinking your perfect CAD drawings are a guarantee. One of the best way to ensure communication between the designer and the contractors is onsite meetings every week. Go through every design and detail, even if it feels obvious make sure everything has been communicated and you are all on the same page. The more hands on you are the less chance of any misunderstandings.If there are team meetings once a week with the client as well it eliminates cross communication and things getting missed.


Remember to write everything down and email everyone involved in the project once a decision or change has been made!

Challenge 3: Clients expectations 

One of the most challenging parts of a project isn’t designing the space, it’s usually managing the client’s expectations. Making sure you’re on the same page as your client is perhaps one of the most important aspects for a successful project. It’s crucial to get this right from the beginning, which is why the briefing stage is so crucial. A great way to understand the client’s expectations is to get them to fill out a questionnaire, which will form part of your brief. Even if it’s the most basic questions, it helps you as a designer understand exactly what they are after. You can include questions like what finishes do you like, what colour are your favourite, are you after any special features, is this an entertainer’s home and well the list can go on. Once you understand the clients brief it requires weekly updates and solid communication to ensure it stays this way.

Remember happy client happy life!

Challenge 4: Sticking to budget

Have you ever started designing your dream project to be told its over budget? Well you’re not alone! This happens nearly all the time for interior designers, where they spend thousands of hours on Pinterest, InDesign and Sketch up creating the most beautiful designs only to be told months down the track it’s out of budget. It’s one of the most frustrating things for a designer to hear, knowing all their hours of hard work is now no longer relevant.So, the question is how can we better plan for this? Whilst the reality is this is somewhat unavoidable, it is recommended to get a detailed budget from the clients at the beginning. If the clients aren’t sure of their budget, work with them to create one. Even if it means you work with the contractor or project manager to put together a detailed budget it will help define the parameters from the get go.


Always be transparent about the budget and send progress updates to help monitor along the way!

Whilst renovating is one of the most stressful times of your life, it's also an incredibly fun and exciting time. It's important to stay organised and to also have some fun! It's a collaborative process and when all parties are on the same page it's a truly enjoyable experience.

If you have any more tips to share we would love to hear in the comments section below!