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The Interior Design Process

The interior process is a dance between the client and their interior designer. The image below describes a typical interior design project timeline with Susanne Desbrow Interior Designs in Calgary, Alberta, and British Columbia.

We've also written it out below for accessibility.

Design process timeline_edited.jpg
A hand holding a pen checking off boxes on a checklist

Programming Stage

  • The designer collects and analyzes facts, uncovers & tests concepts, determines needs, and creates a problem statement.

  • During this time the designer and client meet.

  • Provides client with design questionnaires & conducts interviews.

  • The designer and client will meet for a site visit(s) to review the existing space and performs a site measure.

  • During this time the designer will perform a preliminary code review.


Client Role: Answers programming questions from the designer.

A schematic design floorplan for a commercial building.

Schematic Design

  • Diagrams showing functional relationships are prepared based on the defined scope. These develop into a schematic floor plan, and several options are usually created.

  • Studies are done to establish the design concept of the project.

  • During this stage, the following can be expected:

    • Preliminary plan.

    • Preliminary finish selection options. 

    • Programming review with the client.

    • Schematic plan revision.


Client Role: Approval of floor plan, concepts, & budget.

Detail design drawings sitting on a desk.

Design Development

  • The schematic plan is refined, & details are developed.

  • Design criteria are forwarded to engineers.

  • Building permit drawings are completed, as well as floor plans and elevations.

  • Sourcing:

    • finishes (materials)

    • plumbing fixtures

    • light fixtures

    • millwork hardware specifications

    • furniture, if applicable

    • window coverings

  • 3D renderings, if required.

  • Design meeting(s) with the client.


Client Role: Approval of design & materials.

A construction crew looking at plans on a constructions site.

Working Drawings

  • Drawings and documentation
    are created for tender and

  • BP code review upon receipt of
    AHJ report completion of the following drawings

    • ID0 Site plan

    • ID1 Partition plan/ legend/ door schedule

    • ID2 Power and communication plan

    • ID3 Reflected ceiling plan

    • ID4 Finishes plan

    • ID5 Sections, Millwork & details

  • Drawings coordinated with 

  • Schedules for finishes, millwork
    hardware, plumbing fixtures and lighting are finalized.

  • Client drawing and schedule review for approval.


Client Role: Approval of design & materials.

A signed bid for tender.


  • Contractors submit
    pricing and the
    preferred contractor
    is hired by the client and permits are secured as necessary.

  • Preparation of Bid

  • Evaluation of bids with owner

  • Written confirmation to unsuccessful bidders.

  • Coordination with


Client Role: Contractor approval, budget review, approval of all furniture fittings & equipment (FF&E)

A female construction manager with a white hard hat and a bright orange safety suit. In the background, a construction crew waits for her instruction.

Construction & Completion

  • Attend site regularly
    & meet with the
    construction team:

    • Revisions

    • Site visits

    • Shop drawing review

    • Purchase orders

    • Site instructions

    • Deficiency list


Client Role: Site meetings with designer & contractor. Participate in final review & reveal!

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