As the Design Principal behind Maison Interiors, Elena Gouchtchina’s goal is to make the design process an enjoyable journey for her clients. During this creative process, Elena works closely with her clients to ensure that every detail is taken care of, starting with the initial on-site consultation, and ending with the finishing touches for the space. Elena uses a 12-step design process to ensure the successful completion of each project.
Step 1: Consultation
Maison Interiors recommends starting the design process with an onsite consultation. Depending on the size of the project, the onsite consultation can take at least 2 hours, and will define the scope of the project, its goals, timelines, and budget. During this first meeting, Elena will ask the questions to learn about the client's tastes, lifestyle, entertainment needs, and how the client intends to use the space. During this consultation, Elena will:
- Discuss each room involved in the project, determine its purpose, function, and intended style, and develop a detailed project scope
- Review the client’s wishes, ideas, pictures, and requirements
- Depending on the scope of the project, Elena will provide the client with:
- Choice of paint colours for each room
- Furniture layouts for each room
- Drapery treatment styles to match the room’s architecture
- Guidance on additional lighting requirements
- Suggestions regarding furniture styles
- Review the clients priorities in line with the scope of the project, and develop a realistic budget for the client to review, and determine if it is appropriate to carry out the project in stages
- Review a sample letter of agreement, which will summarize the design process helping to keep the client informed throughout the duration of the project
- Answer questions or concerns, and work with the client towards the successful completion of the project
Step 2: Letter of Agreement, Retainer, Project Commencement
Maison Interiors will send a letter of agreement (contract) to the client after the on-site consultation. It will outline the detailed scope of the interior decorating and design services for the project, fee structure, fee schedule, policies, procedures and obligations of the designer and the client. A retainer is due upon signing of the letter of agreement. The retainer will be applied to the final invoice at the end of the project. Once Maison Interiors receives the signed letter of agreement and retainer, the project will commence.
Step 3: Trade Meetings, Site Measurements, Photographs, Estimates
Maison Interiors will arrange a meeting with the client to introduce the intended design trade for the project. At this meeting, Maison Interiors, and the intended trade (design team), will review the project’s scope of work, and finalize the design requirements with the client. During this meeting the design team will take detailed measurements and photographs for estimation purposes, and an inventory of the existing furniture and fixtures the client wishes to include in the project. This important meeting ensures that all design team members are working on the same page.
In follow up to this meeting, a detailed estimate and schedule will be presented to the client for their review and approval. Note: if any unanticipated circumstances arise during the project, the client will be made aware of any additional costs to the original estimate for their awareness and approval.
Please be aware that most projects take several months to complete. The lead time on furniture alone can be 12-16 weeks.
Step 4: Floor Plans, Design Element Sourcing
Thoughtful approach to the creation of floor plans is the key to a well-designed space. In doing so, Maison Interiors will produce floor plans that consider the effective use of each room, and the arrangement of furnishings. Depending on the complexity and size of the project, these drawings may take time to complete, and a completion date will be given to the client to ensure their awareness. Once the drawings are ready, Elena will meet with the client to discuss the recommended floor plans, and seek their comment and approval.
Once the floor plans are approved, Maison Interiors will start work on the project’s design elements. This starts with developing a colour scheme and sourcing fabrics, furniture, fixtures, and materials. During this stage, Maison Interiors will seek quotes and estimates from the suppliers, manufacturers, retail stores and showrooms, and prepare these for the next step in the design process. Note: depending on the size of the project, this step may take several weeks to complete.
Throughout this step there will be a fair amount of communications and meetings to discuss different elements of the design. The client will provide feedback and the options will be narrowed down to the best one for each element. Creating the design scheme is a time-consuming process and will require several weeks, depending on the scope of the project.
Step 5: Design Scheme Presentation
Maison Interiors will arrange a meeting to present the project’s design elements to the client. This meeting will provide the client with a creative visualization of the project, and ensure the client’s awareness, feedback, selection, and approval. At this meeting, the client will be presented with drawings, design element recommendations, supporting images and samples, along with a detailed budget, and work orders for the client to sign off.
Step 6: Collecting And Placing Orders
Maison Interiors will provide the client with two copies of the project work orders, one for the client’s records, and one to be signed and returned to Maison Interiors. Work orders will detail the items to be purchased or work to be carried out. Once the signed work orders are received with the client’s payment, Maison Interiors will place orders on the client’s behalf. Note: fabrics, antiques, and custom furniture orders require 100% payment prior to purchase. All other furnishings, services and/or construction require a 50% deposit, with the remaining 50% due two weeks prior to delivery, installation, or completion.
Step 7: Trades Work
If there is work to be done by trades, Maison Interiors will schedule it in an efficient manner. Elena will manage scheduling and oversee the work to make sure the quality and the proper design execution.
Step 8: Review of the Budget, Collecting of Outstanding Balances, Project Checklist
By now the project is well underway, and Maison Interiors is working diligently to manage the project on the client’s behalf. At this stage, Elena will schedule a meeting with the client to review the status of the project, the budget, and present any additional work orders if needed. Maison Interiors believes in an open and transparent communication process to ensure the client’s awareness, feedback, and approval.
Step 9: Installation And Styling
This is the moment when the client’s dream becomes a reality. Maison Interiors arranges a convenient date for the delivery and installation of approved design elements such as furniture, and window treatments, as well as styling the house with accessories that have not yet been purchased. In doing so, Maison Interiors will source decorative objects, books, vases, candles, throws, pillows, artwork, lamps, and place them throughout the space for the reveal. Elena’s goal is to provide the client with a turnkey service during the installation and styling stage, so that she can reveal the project to the client all at once if it can be arranged. Each accessory item will be priced, and the client will decide if they would like to purchase them. Note: non-purchased accessories will be returned by Maison Interiors to the suppliers.
Step 10: Deficiencies
As the name suggests, project deficiencies can take the form of a missing light fixture, damaged piece of furniture, delivery of a wrong piece, or paint drips on a baseboard. Should there be any project deficiencies, Maison Interiors will meet with the client to identify the issues, and ensure a successful resolution in the most efficient manner.
Step 11: Client Closure Meeting
This is the final step in the design process, and Maison Interiors will arrange a meeting to present a binder which contains drawings, floor plans, samples, finishes, product information, manuals, warranty information, and care instructions. To bring closure to this project, the retainer collected at the beginning of the project will be used towards the final invoice, and the remainder if any will be returned to the client.
Step 12: Et voilà.......it's time to relax and enjoy!
As each design project is unique, Maison Interiors invites you to contact Elena to discuss your needs further, and if necessary, book a convenient 2-hour on-site design consultation.