Interior design is part experience, part vision and part implementation. The last, implementation, is probably the most difficult since you can't plan for every situation. But when everything goes so well that clients are overjoyed, thrilled and amazed, it certainly is rewarding for the design team.
Take for instance one set of clients. We were asked to design the remodel of a rather ordinary home, initially as a second home but one day they would make their Palm Springs retreat their permanent residence.
Because of the extensive travel schedules of both clients, much of the project would be designed "virtually"... meaning that most of the face-to face client meetings would be over the Internet using Skype. During the virtual meetings, we helped the client establish the project objectives, created a time frame ~ just over two months - and helped them determine what to spend. We toured the home with their Realtor, took pictures and measures, created "as-built" drawings and started the process to guide the renovation.
Soon after, the clients put their primary home in Chicago on the market and in just a few days, the house was unexpectedly sold. The clients called to say we have good news and bad. • Good news? "The house is sold." • Bad news? "We'll need to be in the Palm Springs house as quickly as possible as we have just shipped you all the furnishings and art."
OK. When the initial shock was over, we started rethinking how we would design the space considering that in ten days, we'd have a semi-load arriving at the house with sofas, chairs, tables, cabinets and art.
While everyone has seen total renovations done on HG-TV in a matter of hours, the reality is that good design projects don't happen overnight.
But could we take clues from those TV shows and "light speed" the work? The first step was to alter the design to eliminate any of the work that required long lead times and labor-intensive labors. With new drawings in hand, we organized a big breakfast at the job site for all our best contractors to explain that there was a new time frame and would they be up for a challenge.
Amazingly, all but one stepped forward to say they'd "kick it into first gear" and work 24/7 to get the job done. We all organized, planned, plotted and schemed and yes... made certain sacrifices in a few of the details while keeping the core of the design in tack.
On day one, the demolition that was planned for a week took place in less than 10 hours. Good job. The electrical and plumbing came next and in just three days, the place was ready for inspection. Sheetrock was next followed by trim. By day four, the wood and tile floors were being installed by a dedicated crew that worked in three 12-hour shifts while we ran for food, drinks and supplies. ( It helped to discover that Home Depot opens at 6:00 am. )
By the evening of day 7, we were on target but it was going to be a push to get it all done. Painting, installing the door hardware, putting up the light fixtures and cleaning up the interior took place in the wee hours of the night before the moving van was to arrive on day 10.
On the morning of day 10, as expected, the 40 foot semi truck pulled up to the house and like a nest of bees, the hardworking team unloaded piece after piece while we directed the placement of furnishings to their respective places. By 4pm, the truck was unloaded, the beds made, the art hung and we took a long pause to take in all that had been accomplished. A certain measure of satisfaction was shared by everyone.
But there was work yet to do.
We had to run to get flowers, stock the refrigerator and buy the champagne. By 7pm, everything was set. The only thing left to do was run to the airport to pick up the clients.
And that's, as they say, when the problems began.
The weather in Chicago turned O'Hare Airport into a winter wonderland. The clients' flights were delayed, sitting on the tarmac for some 3 hours then cancelled. The next day, all flights were cancelled followed by another day of delays. By day 12, the weather had cleared just enough for the couple to scurry for the next available flight and be in Palm Springs by days end.
When we picked them up, you could see how exhausted they were. But we knew the work we had implemented in just ten days would make them forget about the last few days. And it did.
When we picked them up, you could see how exhausted they were. But we also knew the work we had implemented in just ten days would make them forget about the last few days.
And it did.
When they walked into their new Palm Springs home, both were in awe. So much had been accomplished on their behalf that they both burst into an emotion that was somewhere between laughter and amazement. And of course, a sense of relief to be in their new home in beautiful Palm Springs.
As we look back on this project, the secret to the success of the job wasn't in the design nor the long hours. It was the implementation. It was the strategy plus the planning, plotting and scheming that made it all work in a timely manner.
And of course, the dedication of a lot of creative people who made the up team.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.