McNicol Interior Designs

Blog #3 - March 3, 2018


What is Full Service Design?



You will often hear Design firms call themselves “Full Service”, but what does that really mean? Why would you pay for a Full Service Design Firm when you can do the work yourself? Many people do not realize the level of detail and the quick decision making that is required to make a project beautiful, on time, and on budget. I have received more than a few calls over the years from individuals who have attempted a project on their own, only to find themselves stuck in a chaotic mess that they don’t know how to remedy. Now, they are hard pressed to find a designer who wants to work on a project where they are cleaning up someone else's mess. They are mid-way through a project that they are no longer proud of, the process is chaotic and the design lacks cohesion. Worst of all, they are calling themselves a “stressed out lunatic” (seriously, someone used this term). So, instead of getting in too deep, consider how working with a designer before the project starts, can save you a lot of time, money and headaches. 


So how does Full Service Design work to prevent this stressful mess from happening? First, designers follow a process that they have built from many years of experience. This process is a detailed path that allows job sites to be provided with the information necessary to keep the work moving forward without delay. Second, designers have the training to do their jobs with attention to detail while maintaining a cohesive look. They do their jobs every day and are experts in their field. Third, they have an address book full of great trades, suppliers and contractors whom have been weeded out from the other mediocre Joe Blows. They avoid working with people who do not know what they are doing, and avoid buying from people selling products that are cheap in price and even cheaper in quality. Their trades and suppliers are knowledgeable, reliable and honest. They are the best in their field and are worth every penny they charge.
So what is the process that defines Full Service Design, and where do all of these experts fit in? Although the process is slightly different for each design firm, most follow this general process (and my company follows it too):

1. Initial consultation - meet and greet, the client and designer meet to define the scope of work
2. Proposal and Contract - the designer sends the client the agreement on the scope of work and price for design services (by the way, do not work with anyone who doesn’t have a contract...this is a nightmare waiting to happen)
3. Trade Day - the designer brings in their superbly amazing trades so they can take measurements and provide quotations to client
4. Plans and Design Presentation - the designer brings in beautiful things of great quality along with layouts to present to the client so they can envision their gorgeous new space
5. Construction Monitoring - the designer meets regularly with contractor and clients to ensure the job is being built according to the drawings and design. The Designer will deal with unexpected problems in a timely manner (even the best contractors and designers don’t know what’s behind walls until they are opened up)
6. Procurement - the designer orders all materials, furniture, etc., to be installed and delivered to the project
7. Installation - the designer will set up the new space with all decorative items, bringing the “wow”, “bling” and “magazine look” to the project (all of these words have been used by my clients)
8. Photography - most designers want to photograph their completed projects for their portfolio and advertising. This also calls for celebration as the project is now complete and the vision is a reality!


Full Service Design is not only about the service and the design, it is about having the confidence that your project is being completed by the best team of people. It is about relaxing and enjoying the process because some one is guiding you through each step and advising you on making the best decisions. It is about having a gorgeous space created while you went about living your own busy life. Full Service Design is about the experience.


- Julie McNicol, March 3rd, 2018


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