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

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

Making Design Decisions With A Spouse Or Partner

Designs By Gia Interior Design.

Have you ever found yourself at odds with your spouse over a certain recliner?  You know, the one that you have been trying to eliminate from your living room for years. That chair with the lived-in look that your partner cannot seem to part with.  Or have you ever come home to find that your spouse has painted a room a particular shade of pink that you absolutely do not share the same enthusiasm for?  How could you possibly not love this color?  One of you might share a love of practical design and function The other might want to totally re-create something they’ve seen in a magazine or on television, but might not be able to articulate the design details needed to create this look.

Well, you are not alone.  After 20 years of negotiating design and renovation decisions with couples on a daily basis, I will assure you that even the most loving couples usually don’t share the same ideas, design aesthetic and expectations when it comes to designing their homes.  Normally couples will notice these differences of opinions occasionally….. when choosing paint colors, furniture decisions, or window treatments. Small discussions about all those beautiful accent pillows on the sofa and bed.  But once a couple decides to embark on a major renovation project, these differences can make it difficult to make decisions, putting couples at odds before they even begin the renovation.  When designing and making design decisions for a renovation, there are suddenly hundreds of design decisions to make and depending on how well you planned, sometimes you must make these decisions very quickly.

With the added pressures that come with an impending renovation, some couples can become very passionate about their ideas about what their new space should look like.  Some couples work really well together and are able to come to agreements easily. Bless you!

Others take much longer or might not ever see eye to eye on their project. We understand, Renovation is scary, there are big decisions to be made, decisions that you will be living with for a long time.  Both parties are usually out of their area of expertise and might not know anything about design or construction, or even worse, a little knowledge can be dangerous, one person takes the lead after a few hours on google or watching a few seasons of HGTV and suddenly the couples normal dynamic is flipped on its side. None of this helps to move their visions closer together.  some try to negotiate their different choices.” You get your granite countertops if I get that tile floor” but the end result might not be a cohesive finished design that anyone likes.

One of the things that really helps to navigate through all of these design decisions is to have help from a professional.
A professional designer with experience in your type of project can listen to the couples ideas and can create an entire design that reflects the needs, tastes and desires of both parties.  For instance, I can take the ideas that my clients have, combine them with what is right for their space, lifestyle, and add some ideas that they might not have considered then come up with a beautifully designed cohesive plan that makes both parties happy. Sometimes a fresh set of ideas from a Pro is all that is necessary.

If you are renovating on your own and can’t come to an agreement with your spouse, consider some totally new design ideas that you both might like. This is much more productive than holding onto ideas that might not even be right for your space, goals, budget, or desired outcome.  With a designer leading the ways, ideas can easily be sifted through, leaving only ideas that really work well for the overall goals of your project.  Just having a professional there to lead the way allows everyone to feel as though their ideas are being heard and allows the designer to really dig deep into the ideas and feelings that both parties have about their home and the environment that they wish to create.  The overall goal is always to create a space that the homeowners love and will enjoy together for many years.

 

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