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  • Writer's pictureChan Alan

Design Changes in Interior Design: From Proposal to Build - Exploring the Process.

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Carpentry, also known as Millworks in the international design community, constitutes a significant portion of interior design and renovation works. It is not uncommon for clients, friends, and family members to assume that what an interior designer proposes or quotes for carpentry works early in the design process will be exactly what is constructed in the end. However, the answer to this question is not so straightforward and depends on several factors. In this article, we will explore three key factors that can influence changes in the design process: the proposal, design, and construction stages. By understanding these factors, you will gain a more comprehensive understanding of the interior design process and how it can evolve over time.

1. Proposal

2. Design

3. Built


There are two significant factors that affect the final outcome of a project: Design Specific Construction Method and Site Condition. During the discovery session, the client's needs and wants are thoroughly examined to inform the design process. In-depth research is conducted to identify the project's unique requirements and explore potential design solutions. While the design may change during this stage, keeping the general form of the proposed design intact, any modifications are aimed at enhancing the overall project outcome. As an experienced interior designer, I firmly believe that investing additional time and resources into refining the design is crucial, especially if it generates significant value for the client. Ultimately, time is a valuable asset that we cannot afford to waste. Therefore, once both parties agree on the design proposal, we can move forward with confidence towards the actual build process, ensuring a linear progression from proposal to completion.


Once the proposal and estimates have been agreed upon by both the designer and the client, the next step is to have a detailed discovery session to identify specific needs and desires. Through this session, the designer gains valuable information that informs the design process, and additional research is conducted to meet project requirements. It's worth noting that at this stage, the design may deviate slightly from the original proposal while still maintaining its overall form. While this approach may differ from some designers in this industry, I believe in continuously striving for improvement and will go above and beyond to ensure that any changes are worth the investment of time and money. With so much at stake in a project, it's crucial to take every possible step to ensure the end result is nothing less than exceptional. Ultimately, the extent of design changes will depend on the value they add to the project.

3. Build

This is the final stage of bringing an idea to fruition. At this juncture, I communicate with contractors through meticulous sets of construction drawings to ensure the accurate translation of the design. The quality and content of these drawings are critical in determining the precision of the message conveyed to the carpenter.

To illustrate, construction drawings can be likened to a detailed shopping list. Just as a specific list ensures the correct purchase of a particular product, the more precise and comprehensive the construction drawings, the higher the probability of the carpenter constructing the intended design accurately.

There are two primary factors that significantly impact the build results: a) design-specific construction methods and b) site conditions.

Regarding the former, as explored in point #2, if an engaging element is identified during the design stage, the carpenter may provide feedback based on their experience, suggesting a thicker panel, for instance, to achieve a smoother surface. Such modifications may marginally affect the design and increase costs, but ultimately result in a superior outcome.

As for the latter, site conditions can present significant challenges, such as walls that are not vertically level. When the site is ready for measurements, the carpenter will measure and adjust the design to suit the site, proposing the best solution to address any unevenness without affecting the aesthetic. For instance, a full-height cabinet design may need to be adjusted to fit the site condition, necessitating a reduction from 4 doors to 3 doors or a change of handles.

The above are just two of the numerous challenges that we may encounter, including material availability, tonality differences, new mechanisms, low-strength wall structures, and hidden electrical routes and pipes, among others.

I am sure I do not need more examples to illustrate the fact that the design changes from proposal, to design and lastly when it is being constructed/build. But one also learned that the changes are really to move the outcome towards a better, more informed & more satisfying results.

Hope this clears your doubt, cheers my friend! If you're interested in learning more about the potential drawbacks of following every interior design trend that comes along, be sure to check out our blog post, about "Why Not Following Trends is the Key to Timeless Interior Design"?. We delve into the importance of creating a space that reflects your unique personality and style, rather than blindly following the latest trends. Click here to read more about why it's important to buck the trend and focus on creating a home that truly speaks to you.

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