Virtual Interior Design Consultation, How-To

So much of what we do at Down2Earth Interior Design we already do virtually.   We have phone calls to review our schematic plans with our clients.   We send moodboards and pinterest links to our clients via email as a method of delivering our design proposals.

But there are parts of the design process where we have always insisted the personal touch is best.   The initial client meeting has always been a part of our design process that I have felt is important to conduct in person.  During the meeting, we get to understand our clients’ design goals in a face-to-face conversation, see how rooms flow into one another, understand the natural lighting conditions, and take dimensions.   All of these things are more difficult to do remotely, but desperate times call for desperate measures.   In the age of COVID-19, we have identified the need to innovate the structure of our typical initial consultation.

The guidelines below provide details of the plan we are working on so that we can accomplish much of what we typically do face-to-face, while respecting social distancing guidelines.   Instead of meeting face-to-face, we will be offering Facetime consultations, and this sort of consultation will require some homework on your part so we can make the most of our virtual consultation time.  Please know that after this crises passes, this virtual design option may remain a service we continue to offer, and the resources below will help guide you through the process of providing the information we need to make our collaboration a success.

We will walk you through the following steps.  With these accomplished, we can make the most of our virtual consultations:

    1. How to prepare and share an ideabook or inspiration album
    2. Photographic documentation of your space
    3. How to measure your space
    4. How to document any existing furniture you want to continue to work with

 

1. How to prepare an idea book:

  • Collect inspirational images. When it comes to virtual design, using an electronic platform is the most efficient way to collect and share images.   We recommend creating a google slide presentation, a Houzz album, or a Pinterest board. If using Pinterest, make sure your board includes some “whole room” images, because we want to understand the overall vibe you seek, not just specific items to which you’re attracted.
  • Feel free to send us some notes about goals and ideas for the space. We will be discussing these over facetime as well, but if you’d like to incorporate your notes into your google slides or type comments under your Houzz or Pinterest images, it certainly can’t hurt and can be a great memory jogger for us.
  • Think about your everyday lifestyle, and how you will realistically use the space. We are striving to be your creative conduit. In doing so, we want to make sure we take into account your daily activities in the room.

Pro tip: If you are not familiar with any of these tools, Amy recommends starting with Houzz to create a look book. It is a helpful tool that shows full room looks which are very helpful in describing what you like.

Here are examples of well-done homework.  When clients are able to put together some visual representations of their style goals and existing conditions, we are best able to maximize the effectiveness of virtual design consultation. Please email your designer a link to your ideabook in advance of the virtual consultation.

Photos collected by creating a Houzz Ideabook or a Pinterest Board.

Houzz Ideabook Example:

Pinterest Board Examples:

You can also use Google Slides to share your ideas with us.  Google Slides is a presentation app much like PowerPoint but it allows you to work from your phone or computer.

The icon looks like this and can be found in the top right corner of your google screen:

Go to slides.google.com to open from your desktop or download the app from the app store. The information saves to your google drive (if you have a Google account).  For more information please, click here.

 

2. How to Visually Document your Space.

This sounds straightforward, and for the most part it is.   Take pictures of the room you want to focus on, turning around in a circle as you do so that each image slightly overlaps the next one.   Also zero in on any key details, and if you also have architectural drawings, please scan those and send them to us.  If you are unfamiliar with scanner apps, one of our favorites is Dropbox.   If all else fails, simply take a picture with your mobile device.

Left: Photos of existing Case Work                                                   Right: Scan of Architectural Drawings

 

3. How to Measure your Space.

If you’d like interior design help with more than one room, it is essential that you sketch a basic floorplan and share it with your design consultant BEFORE we have our virtual consultation.  The floorplan should document existing conditions in your space.   If you also have ideas about the design changes you want to make to the space, you’re welcome to share that with us as well, but do not feel compelled to sketch that out (that’s our job!)   What’s essential is having a rudimentary plan that documents the rooms you’d like to show us, their basic features, like location of windows, doors, and fireplaces, and how the rooms connect.   It is very difficult to understand the layout of the home and how rooms connect with one another if we’re strictly using facetime or zoom, but if we can follow a plan while you’re walking us through, suddenly all becomes crystal clear!

Things you’ll need: Paper (gridded preferred but not necessary), pens in two colors, a tape measure, and your phone to scan and send your drawings to us.

 

I have made a video, below, where I instruct you how to get the measurements that we’ll need to do our job effectively. (Click here for YouTube video link.)

Note: The videographer was a 14-year-old and my measuring assistant is a 10-year-old, so we have some bumpy moments.   Please bear with us and know that we are a family-friendly company through and through!   If you can’t see the floorplan symbols well in the video, no worries.   We have a zoom-in of these elements below. 

Also, don’t forget:

You will want to draw your space before you measure.   Here are some handy dandy symbols typically used on a floorplan:

Other items to know:

  • Walls have thickness.   Typically that is 5”.
  • Where is north? We’ll want to know.   It affects natural lighting and it allows us to label our elevations in an unambiguous manner.
  • Start by measuring important heights, because it’s easy to forget to do that. Ceiling, door heights, window sill and window heights are all important, and if it’s a room with a fireplace, we’ll want to know mantle height as well.
  • Then go around the perimeter.
  • Double check with an overall width and length.
  • Measure inside trim to inside trim.
  • Scan your measurements and send them to us. We’ll enter these into CAD and return a scaled plan and relevant elevations to you, which you should double check against your field conditions AGAIN.
  • iPhones come with a “measure” app, but it is not known for its accuracy. If you choose to use it for this purpose, please realize you will likely get in the ballpark but not get exact measurements of your space.   Click here to learn more: YouTube Video
  • We will be using heights to create elevation drawings. What is an elevation?  It’s an image looking directly at your wall and allows us to assess vertical design elements.  Below is an elevation drawing we did for a restaurant.   You can see that we have aligned the drawing with the floorplan beneath to aid a more intuitive understanding of how the vertical and horizontal elements of the drawings relate to one another.

 

4. How to Document Existing Furniture You Want to Work With

If we are going to be incorporating existing furniture into your new design, we’ll need photos and measurement of those pieces.  If known, we would also love it if you can provide the name of the manufacturer and model.   This information may allow us to find a crisp online image that will look better in our design presentation.  It’s also always wise to store manufacturer information (along with the original order information) someplace safe in the event you need to use it. When you measure your furniture, for the most part you can just provide with length, width, and height.   If we need other specific attributes, we will let you know on a case by case basis.

Here’s an example of a client who did this homework very well:

This documentation may not be sufficient for spaces with technical requirements, such as kitchens. We’re always happy to help you hone in on inspiration for a space like a kitchen, but in order to get specific on a space that requires custom casework, we think it will be better to wait until we can visit you in person.  However, for many types of spaces, such as living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and home offices that do not require built-ins, we believe we can help you move the design process along virtually.

You can expect the same high level of service we have always provided, and you can learn about the process here:  https://down2earthinteriordesign.com/our-process/

If you haven’t already done so, head over to our “TALK TO US” link, tell us about your project, and we’ll set up a call to determine if virtual design will be a good fit for you.  We thank you for considering working with down2earth interior design in this new, creative way.

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