Are You Remodelling or Building?
Use an Interior Design Checklist

Don't Make Costly Mistakes!

This Interior Design Checklist and the Green Home Design Checklist will soon be available for download in my Home of Going Green Guide. You will be able to read it at your leisure on your computer or print it out if you prefer.

It will keep you on track when building or remodelling

Our opportunity, as designers, is to learn how to handle the complexity, rather than shy away from it, and to realize that the big art of design is to make complicated things simple.
Tim Parsey

1. The very first thing I recommend you do on an interior design project is know how much you can spend, so: CREATE YOUR BUDGET!

2. Yes you have to decide how much you can spend, but you also have to know how much you can keep aside for anything that might go wrong.
Always have some money in reserve so you don't have to spend your last cent, or worse, borrow more money. On building and design projects things can go wrong, breakages occur, etc

3. Decide what you can do yourself (be realistic) and what you need tradesmen to do.
Look for trades people who know about green building and design and understand what you want. Show them your Green Home Design Checklist and Interior Design Checklist so they are fully informed about the whole process. Then when looking for your trades people shop around and GET WRITTEN QUOTES when you've made your decision. Written quotes are vital - you want no unexpectedly high bills to blow your budget.
You need to feel comfortable with your designer and builder. Ask them about their previous jobs and also for references. Ask if you can visit past jobs or call referees. You should be able to look through a photo album of their past jobs.
Ask your designer/builder about the fees they will charge. Get all details of the scope of work in writing so you know exactly what they will be doing for their fee. A real professional will not get defensive about this as it is a standard procedure you should be asking for. If they don't want to do this, you need to find another designer/builder!

4. Buy Home Decorating/Interior Design and Green Homes Magazines for inspiration.
Tear out pages of designs, gadgets, innovations, building materials, color schemes etc that you like and put them in a box. When you have made your decisions on what you are really going to use, stick those pictures into a scrapbook and this is your final Interior Design Scrapbook. Take this with you when you go shopping and sourcing materials and furniture.

5. Make a List of the Priorities - the things the room(s) absolutely must have.
So first things first - lighting, electrical outlets, windows/doors/frames/fixtures, walls/architraves/skirtings, paint/wallpaper, floor coverings/treatments, curtains/blinds/shutters, main/major pieces of furniture, air-conditioner/fireplace/heating

6. Shop for a Green version of every material, or piece of furniture you are looking for.
For every surface, for every product or building material, there is a Green alternative to the unsustainable or toxic product on the market. Look for Green, Non-Toxic, Healthy, Sustainable, Free Trade, Organic and you will find!

7. Go looking for those materials you have chosen and get samples.
Getting samples patches of carpet, marmoleum, curtain fabric, paint, a tile, laminates, etc is important because you can bring them home and put them together on a sample board. Anything you can’t get a sample of take a photo; in fact if you can see your floor covering actually laid on the floor in the shop then photograph it.

8. Make a List of the Order Things Need To Be Done
Now you might think Duh! but this is really important. You don't want a contractor to come to the job only to find that the electrician should have been called first. It costs you time and possibly money. Also, make sure you don't have tradespeople walking past finished sections; eg. don't finish the hallway then start a bedroom at the end of that hallway. The tradie will probably mess up that hallway paintwork. Think through the whole process and talk it through with someone who can help with this.(your builder, designer, painter etc)

Ask yourself these questions
when choosing the materials and furniture for
your interior design process

  • Are the old materials toxic eg. lead paint, asbestos etc. If so it is best to hire trades people to remove them. They have all the safety gear and know how. (Well, make sure they do!) It must all be removed from the premises with NO contamination left behind. Ask a lot of questions about their process.
  • Are the new materials recycled and can they be recycled at the end of their life? Remember, Recycle-Reduce-Reuse.
  • Are the new materials toxic in their manufacture, Will they off-gas in your home, or Are they toxic in their afterlife?
  • Will the products be strong and durable, have a longer life-span, and be easy to repair?
  • Is the product useful and fulfil a real need?
  • If it is a mechanical or electrical item; Will it pollute your home; Is it energy efficient; and How long will it last? Make sure you are purchasing quality items that are energy-efficient and have a long lifespan? See European Certification for Electrical Products.
  • Will they "date" too quickly eg. purchasing items that are a fad or in fashion may mean that you will be replacing them too quickly?
  • When purchasing wooden items, check to see where it is made and what trees it is made from. Choose wooden furniture that is constructed sturdily and made from trees from renewable forests. It is a good idea to get right under furniture and check it out.
  • Will it last? Have you ever had a piece of furniture break or become rickety after only a years use only to find on closer inspection that it is put together with staples? Don’t get caught again! Pre-loved older furniture is also a great choice and is often sturdier than the new ones. Furniture should be well jointed and/or screwed together.
  • Look for Certification Labels for Fair Trade, and meeting any other criteria you have set as your standard eg. Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED),

If you are building a green home or thinking of doing a green remodel on your existing home, then see my Green Home Design Checklist so you know what to do and what NOT to do!

Buy the Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home

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Design is a process of creation and problem solving that goes far beyond form or structure and final styling or graphics. As such, great opportunity exists to intervene or change current process and end products to add greater value in many criteria and enhance the concept of sustainability.
SRD - Society for Responsible Design

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