What is “Project Scope?”

Designs by Gia Interior Design, New England Interior DesignHave you ever heard the phrase “project scope” while doing a design or construction project? Have you wondered what exactly is a “project scope”?  Well here are a few answers to some common question.

What is the “Project Scope” and why is it important?

The project scope is basically a term used to define part of the project management of any project. It is the part of the planning of your project, that involves creating a detailed list of everything that your project will include.  This includes projects that our homeowners would like to do, everything that would be needed to complete those projects. This list is clearly defined as to what needs to be done to complete the desired project, what it will look like at the end and all materials used to create this project. This will include everything else that must be done in order for your project to be done.

Think about how you put together a jigsaw puzzle. This is the best way to illustrate the process by which your home is put together or renovated. You can’t put in the last piece of the puzzle unless all of the other pieces are in place, exactly where they need to be to accommodate the last few pieces. If you want to take out a piece of the puzzle that is not on the outer edge, you must remove the necessary pieces in order to remove the piece that you want to be removed, and then replace the puzzle pieces.

This is how it works with a renovation. Let’s say you just want to replace your kitchen cabinets. Well in order to get them out and replace them, you also must remove the countertop, the sink, and faucet and most likely the backsplash. So, for someone that just wants to replace kitchen cabinets, the scope of work would actually have to include removing countertop, sink, faucet and backsplash and in most cases replacing those items as well. Reviewing this in the beginning stages of a project with a homeowner will ensure that they truly understand what the project that they desire would entail.Designs by Gia Interior Design, New England Interior Design

There are many other reasons why clearly defining your scope of work up-front is so important, as we discussed above.

1 – Process-
 many design and construction elements affect each other and knowing the full scope of work from the beginning will prevent backtracking in the process.

2 – Backtracking- causes additional construction costs and adds additional time to your project. Homeowners adding additional projects is common when you are in progress with a project and we certainly can add projects if the homeowners budget allows.  But what we are talking about here are actual changes or deciding on something mid-project due to poor planning, lack of a clear design plan, or changing your mind.  These changes definitely affect your scope of work and could certainly add additional costs if backtracking, re-doing or re-building something is necessary.  These problems almost always happen when a homeowner begins a project without a clear design plan as the design plan is what is needed to thoroughly develop a scope of work for the project.

3 – Budget- the only way to develop a comprehensive quote for a design or renovation project is to have a clearly defined goal. This is your design plan. This is what specifies everything about your project in great detail.  The measurements of everything in the space, the exact placement of everything, all materials to be used in your space. For example, if you are planning a bathroom project and you do not know what size bathtub you are using, then you are just guessing as to the amount of space, fixtures, and money needed for this bathtub, and you are not seeing how it affects everything else you are planning in the bathroom. If you have an exact bathtub, and you know it’s exact placement, specification, etc, then you can more accurately quote not only the bathtub but the rest of your bathroom project.  Yes, there are sometimes unforeseen things involved in construction, but that doesn’t mean that you just wing it. In fact, going in with no clear plan often ends in disaster, especially when it comes to your budget.

4 – Timeline- Tradesmen and contractors run on a schedule, if you are not prepared with a clearly defined design plan or scope of work developed by a pro, your contractor will move on to the next project until you are ready. Or they will jump in and rush you to make decisions as they need them so they can get to work. This is not a great way to design a space. Contractor input is vital to developing the full scope of work for a project as they are construction experts, but it is not their job to design your space, choose your tile and materials or teach you how to manage your own project. Tell them what you want to be built and they will build it, if you do not know how to communicate design elements properly, the outcome might not be what you were expecting. The extra time added to your project for changing your mind midstream, or re-building things over and over because of poor communication can be eliminated with a clearly defined design plan and scope of work. Any of these delays will affect the total project timeline as once your plumber moves on to start another project, he can’t just drop everything because you are now prepared with a decision to move forward. This causes further delays.

What is “Scope Creep”?

Designs by Gia Interior Design, New England Interior DesignSurely you have heard the term “scope creep”. Scope creep is something that can happen easily on a project. Scope creep is when the project increases little by little and is not managed properly. We see this most often when clients attempt a renovation on their own without the assistance of a designer or an experienced project manager. Often homeowners don’t know that if you do one project, it might affect something else. Or “while you are it” you may as well add this or that. All of this is fine if you have the budget and timeline to accommodate these additional things. Working with a professional will help to eliminate the project expanding beyond your means.

When working with clients from the design phase right through to the construction phase, we have processes in place to define the project scope as much as possible before construction or installation begins. Aligning the overall project with the homeowner’s overall goals.


The extra time taken to go through a well-developed design process and plan will always pay off in the end, as well as

  • Create a finished project that addresses all of your needs as far as function, design, and your budget.
  • A project that is well planned will have no questions as to material selection and design details because all of this was clearly defined in the early planning of a project.
  • So our contractors and tradesman know exactly what they are building, what materials are being installed when all specified materials will be on site when they arrive. Allowing for smooth project implementation from start to completion.

For more design realities, inspiration, design tips, and actionable advice don’t forget to sign up for our weekly emails!

Until next time,
Gia

Designing For Safety

Designs By Gia Interior Design, Massachusetts Interior DesignerWhen you design kitchens and bathrooms for a living, you can’t help but notice design issues wherever you go. Including, improper material selections, finishing errors, sloppy finish work, and design mistakes causing safety issues. If I have dinner in a restaurant I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that notices the size and height of the light fixture above the table that is unproportioned or shining the light right in your eyes and not where you need the light on the table. Or the tile threshold that is going to cause everyone to trip because of the height.

Or inevitably I see space planning errors that don’t allow for the necessary maneuverability, causing opportunities for tripping, falling, or putting people at risk for injury. This is the way it goes. I am sure if you are a professional writer and you are reading my blog, you will notice more than a few writing errors. Unprofessionally designed spaces look and function like unprofessionally designed spaces.

Most of the time I don’t mention noticing these issues to my family and friends when I see them while I am out and about, being an optimistic person you just learn to notice and move on. Most of the time homeowners or proprietors are doing the best they can and often think that design only involves mixing a few fabrics and colors, so anyone with fairly “good taste” could design space.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

Time, money, and resources are wasted every day on “shot in the dark” design approaches. But there is one area that you will be risking more than some extra time and money to re-do those design mistakes. That would be the area of safety.Designs By Gia Interior Design, Massachusetts Interior Designer

On a recent weekend getaway with my family, when I first saw the hotel bathroom I immediately noticed that the tile on the floor was in fact not a floor-rated tile but was actually a thin ceramic glossy wall tile, a product that should never be used on a walking surface. I made a mental note of this and knew that all of the severe cracking that I saw on the floor tile was due to this and I wondered why such a nice hotel would make  such a severe design error, I wondered if every room had the same severe cracking, I knew that it most likely did and that it probably cracked shortly after it was installed as this type of tile was never meant to be walked on.

Later that weekend my two-year-old granddaughter who walked into the bathroom with wet feet slipped on the extremely slippery glossy tile and took a bad fall slamming her head on the floor. She is fine, thank goodness, but this goes to show how important it is that not only you know what materials are beautiful for your home or a commercial project but you also need to know what materials to use where and when not to use a material if it could be a safety hazard. Surprisingly we see this type of issue all the time in homes, homeowners fall in love with a beautiful piece of tile or a specific type of floor but they don’t know the ramifications of using these materials improperly.

Unfortunately, the money saved by this hotel by using this inexpensive wall tile as a floor will cost far more to replace as every bathroom floor surely has or will have issues with extensive cracking and is definitely a surface that is dangerous to walk on for all hotel guests.

This is just an example of the many design details that affect a bathroom or kitchen design, and an example of just one of the safety issues that can come up when you are unfamiliar with what you actually need to know to design a space that is not only beautiful but functional and safe for everyone that uses the space. 

Until Next Time,
Gia

4 Independence Day Decorating Tips

Celebrating Independence Day with an outdoor party can be a great way to welcome in the summer season and celebrate the Independence Day holiday.  Whether you’re hosting a backyard cookout or an evening fireworks gathering you can quickly pull together a beautiful gathering with a few touches of red white and blue.  Even if you’re not hosting a gathering you could still add a little Fourth of July red white and blue and your Decor for the season.

Here are a few tips:

1- Display the American Flag-

I love displaying the American flag outside my home. A single flag on a flag pole or small groupings of flags look great around the exterior of your home or lining a pathway or driveway.  Small American flags can be grouped and displayed in a vase, flower pot or just about any container and used on a table.  Don’t forget to honor the American flag protocol. A flag should never be displayed if it’s worn or tattered. An actual American Flag should never be used as clothing or curtains. You could read more about flag protocol at www.usflag.org

2- Use patriotic colors on your table. Groupings of red white and blue candle holders or glasses could be used as vases for beautiful red geraniums or an arrangement of wildflowers or sparklers. Even adding simple white plates to a table with a red or blue tablecloth, will look very patriotic.

3- Decorate the front door- You can add a blast of patriotic decor here with a Patriotic wreath or just a simple wreath with red flowers.

4- Decorate the interior of your home -a few blue and red throw pillows added to a white sofa give a subtle nod to our Independence Day colors. Use a red throw on a chair and a few flag groupings or red and blue accessories. It doesn’t have to be specific to the holiday, just tie everything in with color.

Happy Independence Day!
Gia

The Importance Of Having A Realistic Budget For Your Design and Renovation Project

As an interior designer and renovation specialist, I love working with all of our clients, whether that be our full-service clients, our consulting clients, or our social media followers and email list subscribers for whom we provide free resources like our information-packed blog articles. I love helping all of our clients by providing services that meet all of their design needs.

When I first meet with a client they may or may not have a budget for the project that they are desiring, or be willing to share their thoughts about the budget. If they do have a budget, that budget may or may not be realistic for the project that they are thinking about completing and the desired scope of work. Homeowners may look into the cost of cabinetry, fixtures, and counter-tops and then make a guess as to what the overall project might cost. This is a very inaccurate way to determine what the cost of your project might actually be.

When looking at what is actually involved in doing your project the cost of professional services is not usually talked about much on television design shows or in publications, but it’s a big cost when it comes to your project. Professional services include everyone from the designer or architect, structural engineer, contractors, plumbers, electricians, installers, and painters. Additional costs may include all building permits and delivery on all products. So much is involved in putting a project together and there is a cost to that above and beyond products and materials purchase cost.

So in the beginning stages of a project,  I try to discuss budget early on to be sure that my client’s budget and scope of the project are in alignment. If the client is prepared with an idea of their budget for the project that they’re looking at doing, this gives us the ability to know this early on and to prepare design elements or suggest a scope of work that’s more reasonable for their particular goals and budget. Or to determine the costs of the projects that they desire and then schedule the project when they are thoroughly prepared for the cost. This helps the homeowner be more prepared later when estimated costs and quotes for projects are higher than with the customer thought they might be.

Couple managing the debtThis is very successful when being lead through this process with a professional. Sometimes when homeowners attempt to go through this process on their own they quickly wind up in trouble by underestimating expenses or even starting a project before totally figuring everything out with regards to design, professional services, and labor cost. Another issue might be not having planned any contingency funds available for unexpected construction issues, or for things that you might want to add to the project scope. The end result is always spending more money than planned and putting the client over budget.

Preparation and planning is the key here. Just because you think a kitchen might cost $20,000 doesn’t mean that this is realistic considering the desired scope of work, the condition of your existing home and it’s systems, the desire to take down several walls to expand the space, and the professional services needed to accomplish to your finished project. The biggest way to control the cost of your project is to prepare the scope of work that you can afford after accurately investigating costs.

Until next time,
Gia

So You Think You Might Not Need A Designer For Your Kitchen Renovation, A Cautionary Tale

You’re thinking about doing a major kitchen renovation, you’ve seen some ideas that you might like to explore.  So you spend hours on Pinterest gathering every idea that you like. Then you head down to a local retailer or showroom to look at cabinets or backsplash tile.Designs by Gia Interior Design
 
You might even call the contractor that built your garage last year and tell him that you are ready to build a kitchen. He assures you that he can build your kitchen and quickly shows up to your home and throws out a “ballpark quote” to do “a kitchen” then assures you that he can start demo next week.
 
You quickly realize that you have a lot of questions, beyond what kind of cabinetry doors and crown molding that you would like.  “What would actually look best in your home?” or “What color should you paint?”
 
 How can you get some of the looks and details that you have spent months dreaming about?
 
“I do not see the kitchen details I’ve been dreaming of at the retailer or showroom or will they show me these things later, or automatically include them?”
 
The contractor you hired shows up and starts the demo. “Will this contractor eventually ask me to see my Pinterest boards so he knows what I want? I’m sure all of these things will all be included in the price he gave us.”
 
He turns to you and asks “ So what are you doing for countertops?”  You had no idea that he needed to know this now, so you ask the contractor what he thinks, he says ”whatever you want” so you anxiously start asking friends, family, basically everyone you run into if they think you should do granite or quartz countertops. Everyone spends 20 minutes giving you their re-cap of the last HGTV episode that they watched, convinced they know the answer, or they tell you a tale of the last person they knew that did a kitchen and what they chose, and how it looked awful. So, feeling even more rushed and confused you run back to your contractor and say “everyone thinks I should go with quartz,” What kind? Oh, I don’t know, and that’s not included in the quote you gave me”… and the story continues, for about 6 months or more actually. Every time your contractor needs a selection or answer it slows up his work and increased the cost because the quote was given with no clear design and the saga continues.
 
Why, because the most important part of the process was skipped a fully detailed kitchen design including all specifications, floorplans, elevations, and design details and selection. You unknowingly started sourcing out products and services before you had an actually fully planned space, assuming all the details would just come together. Why, because you’ve never done this before and didn’t think it would be so complicated, and you didn’t know what you didn’t know. Rest assured, this is actually extremely common, homeowners are exposed to products like never before, and the marketing that we are all bombarded with makes kitchen design and renovation, which is an extremely complicated process, looks like a quick weekend project. Homeowners then spend much more time and money trying to learn on their own home resulting in a project that they might not love, and added expenses to correct poor planning and mistakes.
 
Designs by Gia Interior Design. Web Site Design by inConcert Web Solutions.Design is a process and creating a well thought out design plan involves much more than a cabinet layout or a few random ideas. It’s not up to your contractors to design the space, and although some contractors have some design savvy, most are good at “building what you want”. Any quotes given until all the details of a project are clearly defined is usually highly inaccurate.  Until you have a fully designed plan, and you can fully see all of the systems and construction of your home and what is needed to implement this plan, costs cannot be clearly defined.
 
A quick computer generated floor plan from a retailer or a cabinet company is not a complete design plan and is not enough to pull together a cohesively designed space as there are numerous details that go into a professionally designed kitchen.
 
It’s the interior designer, that will review your ideas for your space in greater detail.
First, an interior designer specializing in kitchen design will come into your home, not only to discuss your thoughts and ideas for space but to see the architecture of the home, the colors and details in adjoining rooms and create a kitchen design that seamlessly blends the space. We can take all of your ideas and help you decide which ones to include in your design and which ideas don’t work week together or don’t work well for your space. This is very important, because all of those Pinterest kitchen ideas might not necessarily work well together in the same space, and might not work at all for your space and budget.
 
All designers work differently and when you work with a designer who is selling a specific line of cabinetry or product, this will limit the options that you are being provided with.  An independent designer is often not selling specific merchandise or cabinetry, we are able to work with the client to devise a design that absolutely fits all of their needs sorting items from a variety of options, finding all of the items that are exactly right for your specific project.  It is the designer who will look at and discuss all your ideas and present design options that will look right for your space. 
 
When you are working with a designer who has a team of preferred contractors, you can move through the project seamlessly. Design is a process and moving from concept to completion involves numerous phases and steps. A conceptual design is prepared, including space planning, floorplans, and elevations. Revisions are made if needed and design changes might still have to be made in progress should unexpected and issues arise once walls are opened up. Professional designers know how to navigate through this process so that everyone on site knows exactly what they are building, what materials and items are being used and how to present this information to everyone that needs it at the right time. Products and materials are sourced and ordered well before construction begins, this avoids delays during construction which extend the length of your overall project. This is the best way to ensure that all that time and money that you invest in that new kitchen will give you the desired results.
 
Before starting on the path of a kitchen renovation project hire a qualified interior designer to ensure the success of your project.
 
Until next time,
Gia

11 Ways To Create Spaces That Spark Joy

One of the questions that I ask when designing a space, after reviewing my client’s list of wants and needs for their new space, is “how do you want this new space to feel?” The answers vary between peaceful, restful, a place that the whole family can gather, and an exciting space to entertain. What most people want is a home that brings them joy.  A space that is intentionally designed to make its homeowner feel joyful. This requires getting to know our client’s likes, dislikes, and lifestyles so that we can personalize their spaces to bring them a feeling of joy when they spend time in these spaces.

Here are some general ideas that will help you create a joyful environment in your home.

1. Bring Some Color into Your Space
First, color has an enormous emotional impact on individuals. Using colors that you love can be a great way to make your space feel joyful. Even using small splashes of color can have a dramatic impact on the “feel” of the space. Using a color that you love will make an even greater impact on the way you feel when you enter this space.

2. Make sure your space plan works
The way that your space is planned will have an impact on the way you feel when you are in your room. If you stub your toe every time you try to maneuver around that over-sized coffee table, you might want to take another look at the furniture and traffic patterns in this room and create a space plan that works. Most people underestimate the amount of space needed for function.

3. Choose Textures That You Love
Textures have a huge role in making spaces feel cozy and comforting. Use items and finishes that use textures that you love. Whether it’s a velvet pillow or a sleek glass sculpture, if you love it, seeing these items when you enter a space will create a feeling of joy and comfort.

4. Get Your Space as Organized as Possible
Organize your space. This starts with eliminating anything in the space that you do not need. Then creating an intentional place for all of the necessary items included in your room. Getting organized creates a great sense of peace, allowing you to feel like you are in control of your environment.

5. Choose Lighting that Brightens Your Mood
Lighting can influence your mood and can make us feel either inspired and joyful, or sad and lethargic. The right lighting for the use of space is what is important. Dim lighting in the bedroom can be relaxing, but dim lighting in the kitchen or family space can be uninspiring.

6. Less can be more
Crowding a room with furniture that you do not necessarily love doesn’t create a great feeling in your space. If you really don’t love that end table, remove it and make room for something that you really love. This might take some time but start with pieces that you know you could do without for a while. This will allow your mind to imagine the possibilities instead of focusing on that table that you don’t like.

7. Create a Technology-Free Zone
We love our technology as it’s now helping us manage almost every area of our lives. But it’s important to allow our minds to re-charge and retreat from information overload and overwhelm. If we are intentional about creating a technology free area in our homes this will allow us to experience joy, as we retreat from the compulsion to jump into action every time we hear a notification on our phones or computers.

8. Have Only Items You Love
Surround yourself with items that you love. For everyone this is different. What items in your home are important to you? Are there items that you love that remind you of people that you love or happy times? Are there items in your home that bring back bad memories or bring up negative feelings? Keep what you love, and use it so you will see it daily. Get rid of anything with negative memories, or share it with someone who might look at it differently.

9. Find Art that Inspires You
Art plays a large role in the way a room feels. Artwork should be a very personal choice. A piece of fine art purchased on your last trip to Europe or last weekend’s flea market find, it doesn’t matter, if you love it, use it, it will create a great emotional impact on you as you enjoy your space. My grandson’s first finger painting makes me smile every time I see his framed artwork on my kitchen wall. The artwork is a great way to pull color into a room.

10. Harness the Emotional Impact of Your Favorite Scents
Introduce your favorite scents into your home. All of our senses absorb information that helps us experience a feeling of joy. Seek out a scent or two that fills you with a feeling of bliss. This is a small thing that will help to create a joyful atmosphere.

11. Use Greenery to Liven Up Your Space
Live greenery used in your home creates a life-giving effect. A small arrangement of fresh flowers or a live plant, My arrangement of fresh lilacs is currently bringing me lots of joy and the scent is heavenly.

Just a few small changes in your home or space can bring you lasting joy. We are will benefit if our spaces and homes fill us with joy. Try implementing a few of these steps to create a joyful feeling indoor home.

For more advice and design inspiration, don’t forget to subscribe to my email list!

Happy Decorating!
Gia

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