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How long does an interior design project take?

I feel for homeowners who come to an interior designer thinking they can get their interior design project completed within a 2-3 month window. On its face, that doesn’t seem all that unreasonable, but how long does an interior design project take in reality?

For many reasons, achieving high-quality results using a full-service interior design approach takes more time than you might think. There are multiple people in the mix and a myriad of factors that play into how long it all takes. And while shortcuts are a great idea in some situations (getting out of the rain while walking your dog or avoiding a traffic jam), when it comes to design projects, shortcuts have a way of majorly backfiring and resulting in very unhappy homeowners.

I find that if I can prep my clients about what a realistic timeline is and how they’ll benefit in the end, they love the spaces we’re able to achieve for them and they’re infinitely happier along the way.

There’s more to the interior design process than meets the eye

San Francisco interior design project selections

Even without taking construction into account for renovations and new build projects, there’s a lot that must be done - and done right - to create beautiful finished spaces you’ll love. Here’s what that can look like with a firm that provides full-service interior design as we do here at RHD:

  • Getting to know you and gain a thorough understanding of your tastes, as well as your needs and desires for your spaces - 2-4 weeks

  • Creating a design - including color palettes, layouts, product ideas, etc. - that accounts for every detail of your spaces - 4-6 weeks

  • Sourcing each and every one of the hundreds of items required for a completely designed space while ensuring pricing and availability align with your project’s budget and timeline - 4-6 weeks

  • Place orders for all of those products - 2-4 weeks

  • Manufacturing of products - 2-5 months

  • Coordinating and scheduling deliveries and needed trade services - 2-3 weeks

  • Shipping of all orders - 1-2 months

Some of these steps overlap and timelines can vary widely based on factors such as consumer demand, availability of materials, and supply chain issues. But this should give you a sense of how long each step can actually take, even with our highly organized processes and meticulous planning and oversight.

Just imagine how long the timelines could be with someone who doesn’t offer that professional level of service!

Isn’t there a way to get it done faster?

There are certainly ways to furnish your home more quickly, but that speed can come with significant compromises and sacrifices on your part.

  • Instead of sourcing unique items customized for your tastes, comfort, and functionality needs, you could work with a designer who provides cookie-cutter designs or buys furnishings from retail stores (although retail isn’t always very quick either)

  • Instead of getting spaces that are complete from top to bottom, you could skip window treatments, rugs, art, and décor and only get the bare minimum of furnishings

  • Instead of seeking a unique, collected, personal look from a designer, you could purchase everything from one retail store, taking it all exactly as it’s displayed in the store

Those don’t sound very appealing, do they?

I am in no way trying to be facetious or to exaggerate here. There just aren’t any good options for speeding through a project. You’re hiring an interior designer to transform your home so you don’t have to settle for run-of-the-mill spaces. Why defeat that purpose for the sake of a quicker turnaround?

There are no shortcuts to great design

Bay Area bath renovation interior design project

Think about it this way: What kind of spaces would you expect to end up with if you based every decision for your project on what would be fastest instead of what you love, want, and need?

The truth is that you just can’t achieve layered, compelling, personalized designs like what you see on my portfolio page using shortcuts and quick fixes. My clients look to me to honor their personal aesthetic and reinterpret it with a casual sophistication; to integrate their family and work life in their spaces in ways that bring them back to center on a daily basis. Those are lofty design goals that require not only knowledge and expertise, but also an investment of time that allows me to do the work right. It’s a level of care that cannot and should not be rushed.

If what you’re looking for are spaces that are unique, beautifully designed, cohesive, and ‘complete,’ your design project is going to take some time.

Fast or good: pick one

It takes time for thoughtful, thorough designing and planning, as well as for seeking out just the right products

for the space and the project’s parameters. If you were to remove any of the details or layers (such as the statement lighting, the luxurious fabrics, or the thoughtfully curated art and décor) from a beautiful space like this one, the entire look and feel would be altered. These details and layers matter.

They work together to make a space feel complex and complete. And they all take time. I am of the belief that shortcuts only serve to shortchange the client. You would most certainly be disappointed in the results of your project if I compromised the design you want for the sake of getting it done quickly.

You’re investing in your home, in the spaces you’ll surround yourself with every day for years to come. Taking the time to do things right is something you’ll never regret.


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