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Interior design process checklist

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Updated on:
March 23, 2023
March 24, 2023
Table of contents

What is the interior design process, and why use a checklist?

As an interior designer, you already know that the design process can be complex and involve so many steps. This is why it's essential to keep track of all the items associated with each project phase/stage. By doing this, you can ensure that all steps are accounted for, thereby enabling you to achieve the client's desired outcome and deliver a successful project without overlooking anything.

Sign-up today and enjoy unique features that help you run your interior design business including this comprehensive design process checklist. Below are the interior design processes and more importantly "the why" behind the rationale to use them as an interior designer often.


Programming is the initial consultation step in the interior design process where you, as the designer, meets with the client to understand their scope of work or statement of work. It is an essential step because it sets the foundation for the rest of the project. During this step, you will gather information about the client's needs, preferences, style, and any specific requirements for the space. It's important to ask many questions to ensure you fully understand the client's vision for the project.

After the initial consultation, you should have a clear idea of the client's needs and goals for the project. You can then develop a plan to guide the rest of the project. This plan may include a timeline, budget, and scope of work that outlines the specific tasks that must be completed during the project. Having a well-defined strategy in place can guarantee that all individuals participating in the project are aligned and actively pursuing the same objectives. This will help lessen misunderstanding and ensure the project is finalized on time and within budget. Do not be afraid to use an interior design client questionnaire to document desired styles, color palettes, themes, etc. Having sign-off from clients on critical components in writing can set you up for success should any misunderstanding arise.

Project Planning

As the designer, creating a project plan is a crucial step in the interior design process. Your project plan should include the design concept, scope of work, timeline, and budget. By defining these elements, you can ensure that you and the client are on the same page from the start. This plan is then presented to the client for approval, allowing them to understand the details of the project and the timeline you expect to follow.

To effectively manage your project plan, it's helpful to use appointment scheduling software like Bonsai. With this tool, you can easily schedule ad-hoc or planned client meetings to walk them through the process and progress of their project. You can also use the software to keep track of project milestones and deadlines, ensuring that you stay on track and meet your client's expectations. Having a clear project plan and using tools to manage it effectively can minimize confusion and keep your project moving forward smoothly.

Most importantly, have a plan for quoting the interior design project including change orders, materials, labor, etc. This will set you up for success when it comes to invoicing your clients on an agreed upon payment schedule for your work.

Space Planning

Space planning lays the foundation for the overall layout of the design space. As the designer, you'll create a layout plan for the space, including furniture placement, lighting, and flow. You'll take into account the client's needs and preferences, as well as any building codes or regulations that must be followed.

To create an effective space plan, you'll need to be creative and considerate of the space's limitations. You also need to have strong communication skills to ensure that the client is satisfied with the layout and to address any concerns or changes that may arise. In addition, software tools like Bonsai helps visualize the space plan and make any necessary adjustments before finalizing the plan. Creating a thoughtful and effective space plan ensures that the space functions well and meets the client's needs.

Developing the Design

After space planning, you move on to developing the design concept. This is where you create the vision for the space, incorporating the client's style and preferences. You will choose color schemes, materials, finishes, and decorative elements. It's important to consider the client's budget when making these decisions. You may use mood boards, sketches, or computer-generated images to help the client visualize the design. It would be best to consider the space's functional aspects, such as lighting and acoustics.


Once the design is concluded, it's time to create detailed drawings, specifications, and schedules for the project. This documentation may include floor plans, elevations, lighting, furniture, and finish schedules. It's important to be thorough and detailed in this step, as these documents will be used by contractors, architects, and other professionals during construction. Ensure all necessary details are included and everything is clearly labeled and easily understood. You may also need to obtain necessary permits and approvals from local government agencies. It's important to keep track of all these documents using a client portal and CRM and ensure they are kept up-to-date throughout the project.


This is the phase where the actual work on the project takes place. As the designer, you will work closely with contractors, architects, and other professionals to implement the design correctly. You will visit the site regularly to oversee the construction and ensure everything goes according to plan. You may also handle purchasing and installation of furnishings and decor during this phase. Maintaining open communication with the contractors is essential to ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.

Final Walkthrough

Once construction is complete, you will do a final walkthrough of the space with the client. This is an opportunity to ensure that everything meets the client's expectations and that any necessary adjustments are made now. It's essential to be thorough during this step to ensure the project is completed to the client's satisfaction.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation

Next, follow up with the client to ensure that the space is functioning well and that the client is satisfied with the design. Any issues that arise are addressed and resolved promptly. This step is crucial as it helps build a long-term relationship with the client, leading to future business opportunities and referrals.

Final Invoicing

Once the project is complete, you will prepare the final invoice for the client. This invoice will include all expenses associated with the project, such as design fees, furnishings, and construction costs. You can use our software at Bonsai to create and send invoices and track payments. Ensuring the client understands the final invoice and is comfortable with the payment terms is essential.

Secure a Testimonial

Finally, asking the satisfied client to provide a testimonial for your portfolio or website is crucial. This testimonial can help you build credibility with potential clients and improve your online presence. You can ask the client for feedback and use their comments to create a testimonial that accurately reflects their experience working with you.

What does the interior design checklist have?

As a designer, it's important to understand your client's needs and preferences for their living room. Interior design is a complex and multifaceted field that involves a wide range of considerations, from aesthetics and functionality to safety and comfort. Whether you're redesigning a single room or an entire house, it's essential to have a comprehensive interior design checklist to ensure that you cover all the necessary elements. This checklist can help you keep track of everything from planning and programming to space planning and developing the final design. Here are some of the spaces you should have covered on your checklist:

Living Room

When designing a living room, there are many things to consider. One of the most important things is the layout of the room. You want to ensure that the furniture is arranged in a way that makes sense and is comfortable for your clients. Consider the traffic flow and how people will move around the room.

Another important aspect of designing a living room is choosing the right furniture. You will want to consider the furniture's style, color, and materials. Additionally, you will need to choose appropriate lighting for the space, and this may include a mix of overhead lighting, table lamps, and floor lamps. Remember to consider the accessories and decor that will complement the furniture and add personality to the room.


Designing a bedroom can be a fun and exciting project. Start by considering the room's layout and where the bed will be placed. You will also need to consider the storage options for clothes and other personal items.

The bed is the most important piece when choosing furniture for a bedroom. Consider the size, style, and materials of the bed, as well as any accompanying furniture such as bedside tables, dressers, or chairs. Lighting is also important in a bedroom, including overhead lighting and bedside lamps.


Designing a functional and inspiring office space is crucial for many people. Start by considering the space layout and how the furniture will be arranged. You will also need to consider storage options for office supplies and equipment.

When choosing furniture for office space, it's important to consider style and function. The desk and chair are essential, but you must consider storage solutions such as bookshelves, filing cabinets, and storage boxes. Lighting is also vital in an office space, including overhead lighting and task lighting for the desk.


Designing a wardrobe space is an integral part of any interior design project. Start by considering the space layout and your clients' storage needs. You will also need to consider lighting and mirrors for the space.

When choosing furniture for wardrobe space, the most essential pieces are the storage solutions such as wardrobes, drawers, shelves, make-up, and hanging rods. You will also want to consider accessories such as mirrors and lighting fixtures to enhance the functionality of the space.

By taking note of these essential design checklist items, you can create a space that meets your client's needs and preferences while functioning well and looking beautiful.


Creating an interior design checklist is crucial in providing your clients the best possible service. By breaking down the design process into individual steps, you can easily ensure that all the necessary elements are included and that the design meets the client's needs and desires. From programming and planning to documentation and final touches each step plays a critical role in achieving the desired outcome, from programming and planning to documentation and final touches.

By incorporating the client's wishlist, you can go beyond their basic needs and create a space that truly reflects their personality and style. Whether incorporating innovative home technology, creating cozy nooks for pets, or finding unique ways to display artwork, listening to your client's wishlist can take your design to the next level.

As an interior designer, your ultimate goal is creating spaces your clients will love and enjoy. By using Bonsai consulting software, you can streamline your business operations and spend more time doing what you love – designing. With a free 7-day trial, you can see how Bonsai can help you manage your projects, communicate with clients, and handle invoicing and accounting all in one place. Sign up today and take your interior design business to the next level.

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