Changing the industry mindset on interior design process

Compromising on furnishings leads to problems down the line

Higher quality, design-led interiors naturally equate to a greater sense of wellbeing within residents, among other things.

Residents who feel as if their wellbeing is being catered for through their immediate environment will be naturally happier in a property setting, leading to higher retention rates.

So, the power of effect and properly conceived interior design within a development of any scale should never be underestimated as it can become a stand-out feature in a crowded marketplace to give a development an edge in catching the eye of potential residents.

It is not common practice for design-led interiors to be integrated into developments early enough to deliver the quality needed to successfully acquire and retain customers.

So, what are the main problems when interior design is brought in too late? And what can be done to rectify it and ensure best practice is being implemented?

Avoidable problems, unavoidable consequences

When creating interiors for a project, designers and installers have multiple stakeholders whose needs must be met.

Failing to introduce design-led practices sufficiently early in development planning has several knock-on factors across all stakeholders.

Picture of a sofa in a lounge

It’s important to position M&E services in a user-friendly way. Pic: Loft

One of the common problems is the inability to position furniture in a user-friendly way due to the siting of mechanical and electrical services (M&E, like radiators or a cluster of plug sockets) in unnatural places.

This may lead to the unnatural positioning of focal points of furniture, such as beds and sofas, so they block light, hinder thoroughfares, or jar the flow of a property.

Something as simple as having to introduce a smaller media unit, leads to the resident having to settle for a smaller television.  

Compromise on the spec of furniture and furnishing can lead to hold-ups in delivery and increased cost, as the supplier may need time to find appropriate alternatives. It might also disappoint residents with high expectations.

If the designers are brought in early and have a chance to assess the M&E plans with the developer, a bespoke interior plan can be created to ensure the space is being maximised and there will be no unnecessary setbacks when it comes to installation.

Top tips on M&E co-ordination

  1. Early communication is key. This will eliminate many problems down the line as designers will ask questions that may not yet have been considered in the planning phase.
  2. Make the designers aware of what rooms will be used for. The more knowledge have about space utilisation, the better the design scheme will be.
  3. Communicate all storage plans with the designers. If you plan on integrating fitted wardrobes/storage into a bedroom or living room, tell the designer so they can plan around this and not incorporate fitting solutions into their design.

Early preparation maximises positive results

Each space within a property is different and if efficient attention and care go into the design of the space, residents will feel it.

Picture of a double bed in a bedroom

Early collaboration with interior designers maximises results. Pic: Loft

No matter how high-quality the building’s services or amenities are, generic interior designs have a limited chance to capture the attention of potential residents and can give a negative impression.

Even though some developers will have a clear vision for what they want from the interior design, early collaboration with designers is key to maximising results.

Designers draw inspiration from the character of the building and the surrounding area to create a fully formed interior filled with spirit and authenticity.

If they are brought in at an early stage, they can understand the ethos of the project and what is of relevance to the local community; creating an interior scheme around this will connect the exteriors to the interiors.

If a designer is brought into a development in time to understand details like the flooring and finishing schedule, this will shape the future interior design.

Bespoke mood boards and physical materials can be created to conduct a sample review to ensure the potential of the property is maximised.

Home spaces with high-end, design-led interiors, where residents spend the majority of their time, is the key to retention

A design that has been given enough time to evolve and develop is guaranteed to stand out in the marketplace from an interior where the furniture has been considered an afterthought.

An early understanding of the residential dynamic is also important.

A two-bedroom apartment aimed at young professionals will require individual zones for privacy and quiet time, whereas a two-bedroom designed for a couple will be more free-flowing, with the potential to convert the second bedroom into a gym or office.

Design-led interiors top tips

  1. Residents are becoming more sustainably conscious. Modern designers will incorporate sustainable products/design elements into the design to appease both resident and developer.
  2. Residents want a bespoke feel to their property to make it feel personalised and unique. By working with interior designers, operators have access to lines of furniture that are not accessible to the public. Their close relationships with manufacturers and suppliers can allow them to give a resident more freedom of choice.
  3. A better-designed home will naturally lead to longer resident retention. Residents may not own the property, but furnishings selected with intention can showcase a well-designed space to family and friends. Obviously also, a maximised furniture layout and thoughtful design touches leads to ultimate relaxation and comfort.

It’s not common for developers to enlist interior designers during the budgeting phase, and this must change

Changed mindset, improved future

While it’s not common practice for developers to enlist interior designers during the budgeting phase, this must change to enable to creation of a residential landscape brimming with accommodation options that support wellbeing and create spaces residents truly love.

Having high-end amenities and services are a terrific draw but may not be enough to retain them.

On the other hand, home spaces with high-end, design-led interiors, where residents spend the majority of their time, is the key to retention.

When the channels of communication are opened early enough, developers and designers should have hugely complementary skills enabling an end goal that is a positive experience for the developer, designer and most importantly, the resident.

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