By Renée Biery

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Add-on’s, renovations, and new construction homes can seem intimidating to take on. How do you even get started? How do you find and manage contractors? What surprises should you anticipate coming up? How long do these things take?

In this podcast, you will learn all that and so much more!







As interior designers, we have superpowers that make us an integral and critical component of the success of any construction project.

The superpower I want to share with you today is often a slight afterthought with the drawings that the clients are presented with and why it is really important for you to be on these projects early, early, early in the game so that you can affect some changes that are simply lines on a drawing and costs next to nothing to change – rather than trying to change it during the construction itself, possibly looking at change orders and/or a client saying no, just because it’s an expense they don’t want to take on. 

So, what am I talking about? It’s lighting.

It’s how we light the spaces our clients will live in.

If you are doing a large renovation or a new build, you will be looking at drawings prepared by an architect. And, of course, this drawing plan will include lighting plans or reflected ceilings or some sort of combination to illustrate the lighting that the architect is suggesting. 

A better description of what is shown in these drawings is that the lighting will meet code, and possibly go to the next step of their personal suggestions for the spaces.

Okay, code must be met. We all know that. Please look them up in your area if you aren’t familiar with them, because they must be met for life safety issues as well as to get a permit and pass your electrical inspections. 

Everything we present to clients is a suggestion. And there are countless ways you can achieve the same goal. However, I believe interior designers are better suited to work out lighting plans for their clients. 

This isn’t to talk negatively about architects. However, I find that their program is more geared to fitting the pieces into this puzzle as opposed to the level of detail a designer tends to go to once those rooms are established. 

Lighting can take on a gazillion different forms from overhead, to sconces, to table lamps, to task lighting, to mood lighting. It really is endless as well as ever-changing.

How do interior designers look at lighting differently?

The reality is we can understand the use of a space, and that space can change after we get in it and actually use it. So, there’s an important role for you to play different scenarios and poke holes in their ideas. 

I find there’s nothing more maddening than needing more lighting in a space and not being able to do it because I know how easy it is to avoid that situation by just giving it a little more thought, questioning, and answering with your client to get them thinking about those specific spaces.

I find clients are more hung up on the furniture, the flow of the room, and the parties they will have. They’re not thinking, “Where do I want a lamp?” That’s where you come in. Showing your expertise and your experience knowing the value that proper lighting does to a space and the quality of life that can be done in a space that you are lighting properly. 

The cheapest way to elevate all of the lighting is to do it in the very beginning when it’s simply lines on drawings. 

This is long before you pick out the fixtures themselves. This is long before the electrical rough-ins are happening. And why it is so important for you to communicate the value that you can bring to this project if they bring you on early enough. 

So you may be wondering how you keep track of all these superpowers, how you improve them, and how you build the skills and knowledge I keep talking about. 

That is where the course comes in. This is a complex niche inside our industry. There are an inordinate amount of steps required to do this work successfully. And by success, I don’t mean a pretty project at the end. To me, that is assumed. 

For me and for you, success is also a business matter. It is, ‘Did you make money? Did you avoid expensive mistakes? Did you end successfully enough that the team you’re working with wants you on their next project? Did you end successfully enough that your client wants to recommend you to all of their friends and colleagues and coworkers, anyone they can talk to? To me, that is a success. And it’s only done if you know the steps and stages and have the skills to run a project smoothly – avoiding those costly mistakes at all costs. Building the relationship in the team, showing and proving your value every step of the way. And communicating with your client the different stages they will go through with transparent and consistent communication.

And yes, I will continue to touch on all of these subjects on this podcast, but the only way to get the direct through line is inside the course I built, INTERIOR DESIGNER’S GUIDE TO CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions!

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