How to… get started with planning the interior design of your home

This post is part of a series of tips on interior design and working with an interior designer.

Planning the interior design of your home

Start with the questions… not with the drawings!

Interior design planning

So, you’ve decided to make some changes to your home, or you’ve bought a new place, or you’re planning an extension. It’s tempting to dive in there with ideas and enthusiasm, but you may save yourself some headaches later if you slow down and ask yourself some key questions first.

While most spaces evolve organically, and are never finished, it makes sense to make sure things that are expensive or difficult to change are right from the beginning.  Create a solid base, and then let it evolve, if that’s the way you like to do it.

The first thing I would suggest to do, when planning changes
to your home, is to think about
what you need, what you want, and what is possible (and impossible).
You will need to do this, whether you are planning the interior design of your home yourself, or employing a designer to help you.

Obviously, an interior designer can help you with much more than just interior design planning – from accessing trade discounts to co-ordinating sourcing, deliveries and the whole project – but the planning stage when working with a designer would typically start with some thinking along these lines.

Below are some questions taken from the questionnaire we use when obtaining the brief for a new design project, or carrying out a design consultation.


…what are the limits of the room and how does it need to function?

  1. Who will use the room regularly? Occasionally? Will this change in the future (e.g. children planned, extended family moving in?) How many adults, children, pets?
  2. How often is the room used? Is it the main family home, a pied a terre, weekend home? What happens in the room in a typical week/month?
  3. What is your lifestyle like? Do you spend most of your time at home, do you entertain a lot, or do you eat out most nights and rarely cook?
  4. What activities will you do in the room? Sleeping, eating, watching movies, reading, working, yoga, workouts, entertaining, bathing etc…??
  5. Which way does the room face? How much daylight will it get? Will it be in direct sunlight for any of the day?
  6. Are there any planning restrictions?
  7. Is the wiring, plumbing, heating system etc in good condition, or do these need to be addressed as part of the project?
  8. What is the access like? Is there a limit in size for large items?
  9. How is the room constructed? Walls, ceiling, floor, windows, doors…?
  10. What do you need in the room, from a practical point of view? Furniture, storage, equipment etc
  11. What is or isn’t working about the way the room functions currently (if it exists already)?


…what do you want the room to look like?

  1. What styles, seasons, colours etc do you like?
  2. What feeling would you like to evoke when you or your family and friends walk into the room? Welcoming, warm, energised, excited, calm, impressed?
  3. Are there any particular finishes or materials that you love or hate? E.g. wallpaper, wood flooring, carpets, rugs, curtains, blinds, shutters, pattern, metal, textured fabrics…
  4. What do you currently like or dislike about the room (if it exists already)?
  5. What will you be keeping and what can go?

Once you have considered these questions, you should be able to create a shopping list for the key items that need to be sourced for the room, and a basic list of jobs to be done (e.g. sort wiring etc).  Don’t forget to distinguish between essentials and nice-to-haves.

Whether you are answering these questions for yourself or your designer, your answers will shape the design of the room. If you follow this checklist, you are much more likely to end up with your home the way you want it.

Was this useful? Do you feel you now know how to get started with interior design planning?  Let me know in the comments!

Coming soon – coming up with a design concept and colour scheme, space planning and the layout of the room, specific tips for individual rooms, tips on how to use colour, choose floorings, wall coverings, paint…

If you have any questions you’d like me to answer in this series, leave a comment or send a message via the website – I’d be delighted to help!

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