Design Project Timelines: What You Need to Know


Are we there yet?

How many times have your kids asked you that question? Or maybe you can remember driving your own mom crazy with that same question.

It seems our whole life we want to know, “Are we there yet?” 

Personally, I like to make a plan for everything, because I don’t like the unexpected.

And the unexpected on a design or renovation project is NEVER a talk I like to have with my clients.

But timelines from one project to another can be vastly different. It all depends on the scope, style, materials, decision-making abilities, and so many more factors that play into the expected timeline.


I recently read an article in the Home Furnishing Association about how a ship encountered a storm and many containers fell off. I would not want to have to tell my client that her furniture is delayed because it is at the bottom of the sea!

That’s extreme, but let’s be real…things happen. Therefore, we do our best to create a realistic timeline for your project, planning for the unexpected before it arises.

Today, I’m sharing with you the 5 steps you need to take in order to accurately establish and understand an estimated timeline for your specific project.


1. Consult the Pros

The very first step is always consulting with a designer.

This might mean a combination of conversations, questionnaires, and design studies.

Of course, you need to understand your designer’s availability to take on your project.

For our firm, the first step is a Discovery Call. You get on my calendar, picking a date and time that is convenient for you. I call you at your selected time, and we chat about your project. What you are trying to accomplish and what obstacles you are encountering. During this call, we will decide together if we are a match.

Then we’ll schedule a two-hour in-home consultation. You’ll complete a questionnaire and gather inspiration images.


2. Determine the Scope

During our consultation, we will tour your home and you will tell us what you like and what you want to change. This will determine the scope of the overall project.  We will take measurements and determine what is required. Is it one sofa, two chairs, and a table…or an all-new kitchen footprint, complete with new appliances, fixtures, cabinets, and flooring.

We take all the information supplied by you and gathered at our consultation and reduce it down into a cohesive project scope. This is called the Design Concept Phase and it takes about one month. During this time, we

  • Document your space

  • Capture your input and desires

  • Gather inspiration images and envision your home from every angle

  • We conduct “Trades Day” to check feasibility and ballpark estimates

You’ll get:

  • Floor plan

  • Inspiration boards

  • Furnishing, fixture, and equipment investment estimates

  • Initial selections

This allows us to confirm your scope, layout, investment estimate, and aesthetic direction.

We provide one round of revisions. We ask that you share all of your input at one time so we can make edits as efficiently as possible. Revisions can add time to the project depending on the scale of the revisions.


3. Factor in Lead Times

Next comes the Detailed Design Phase and this takes approximately two months. We source all furnishings, procure written quotes, and prepare detailed proposals.

We develop the timeline based on lead times for certain items. For example, currently, upholstery is taking 10 – 12 weeks, while kitchen cabinets are taking 8-10 weeks.

Unfortunately, only so many things are within the designer’s control. Especially now, in the midst of a pandemic. Many manufacturers have to close their plants down each time a worker tests positive for the virus. This means they have to shut down their operations temporarily, get everyone else tested, and sanitize the whole facility…causing many, many production delays.

A well-estimated timeline factors in the lead time for ordering supplies, the length of time required to secure permits, and so much more. For example, we establish the date the kitchen cabinets will be delivered, then work backwards to figure out when we should submit the permit application and when we should start demolition, so that the day the cabinets arrive, all the rough framing, plumbing electrical, and drywall is completed and inspected so the cabinets can be installed immediately (meaning less downtime for you).


4. Understand All Schedules

There are many people involved in any given project (even the simple ones) from the designer to the contractor to the trades. Each has their own schedules and availability that need to be factored into the estimated timeline.

During our Expediting and Execution Phase, timing is dependent on the scope of the project and schedules

We communicate details to the vendors and trades, place orders, track deliveries, and resolve deficiencies. When the project requires a build or renovation, we manage it. We also oversee and coordinate deliveries.

Fortunately for us, we have a select list of trusted vendors and trades we have worked with for many, many years. We know they are loyal to us and will do everything possible to make our projects the most successful. 


5. Prepare to be Flexible

Once we know the estimated time of arrival for all the products, we prepare a Gnatt chart with the projected timeline. Each week we send you an Expediting Report and an update on the following week’s work schedule. This keeps you informed of the progress on your project. 

Rarely does a timeline schedule stay static, however, because there are always unforeseen issues that arise (such as our freight story above). Recently, we had a side table for a client go missing. The delivery truck came, but the driver could not find the box. The freight company had documentation showing they received it and it was loaded onto the truck, but somehow became lost. It was a one-of-a-kind piece and was now discontinued, so we could not just order a new one. We are still searching for a suitable alternative. (Sigh!)

Even though it may be difficult to give an exact project timeline, the results are always worth the effort. No matter how unpredictable the schedule may get, we will always communicate with you from start to finish because we are all in this together.  

Are we there yet? Almost!  Contact us to get started.                                                            

Until next time,





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