How To Prepare A Winning Design Brief For Your Interior Designer

January 25, 2024

How To Prepare A Winning Design Brief For Your Interior Designer

Home renovations can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. There are just so many things to plan for, so much money to be spent, a timeline to adhere to and you don’t know what to tell your interior designer. Well, don’t worry because we have got you!

An effective design brief is your secret weapon for a successful renovation. In today’s article, we’ll show you how to communicate your ideas clearly and prepare a solid brief for your ID, so you can get this renovation in the bag.

Provide a Budget and Be Firm

The first step we recommend for any interior design project is to determine how much you can spend and communicate that clearly to your ID. Be upfront about your budget from the start so they can recommend finishes and fixtures that fit within your price range. As tempting as it may be, don't leave wiggle room or go over budget. Expect multiple revisions to get the costs down if needed. It's far easier to start with a realistic budget than have to make sacrifices midway through the project.

Once you settle on a budget, stick to it. While some small overages are inevitable, major cost overruns can derail a renovation and damage your relationship with your ID! With good communication and strict budget discipline, you'll wind up with a design you love at a price you can afford.

Provide a Moodboard

A moodboard is a collage of images, textures, and colours that represent the overall style you want to achieve. Provide images of rooms, furniture, accents, etc. that you find appealing. This helps to visually communicate your vision to the designer.

Specify if there are particular materials, patterns or colour palettes you prefer. For example, you may want an industrial-inspired space with exposed brick walls and metal accents or a bohemian chic look with vibrant textiles and natural wood elements. Images from Pinterest, Instagram, or interior design magazines are extremely helpful.

A moodboard, sketches and written notes create a design brief that transforms your abstract mental images into a concrete guide. Review it with your designer to ensure you're both on the same page regarding the overall vision and scope of work. With a winning design brief in hand, your dream renovation is well on its way to reality.

Create a Checklist of Must-Haves for Every Room


In the kitchen, list appliances you need like an oven, stovetop, fridge, and dishwasher. Also note the types of counters, cabinets and flooring that would work best. Do you want an open concept or prefer separate spaces? Mark where you want sockets and include dimensions for the ideal island or kitchen table.

Living Room

For the living room, determine if you need space for entertaining or prefer a cosy den. Note any must-have features like a fireplace or if you want the TV above the mantel. List the types of sofas, chairs and tables that would suit your needs. Don't forget to measure for any art or shelving you have in mind!


In the bedrooms, list the size of bed you need for each room. Note any built-in or walk-in closets required and leave room dimensions. For the master suite, add any extras like a reading nook or dressing area. Mark where you want lighting, power points and storage in each room.

Providing this type of detailed checklist and vision for each space in your home will help the designer understand exactly what you're looking for. Be as specific as possible while still being open to their creative expertise. With clear communication and by building a collaborative relationship, you'll end up with a renovation perfectly tailored to your needs.

Sketch the Floorplan and Position Your Furniture

Sketching out your floorplan helps visualise how the space will function and ensures your designer understands how you intend to use each area. Mark where windows, doors and permanent fixtures like columns are located. Indicate how much space should be allocated for pathways and furniture placement. It doesn’t need to look suuuuuper professional—just enough for your designer to have an idea. There are also apps for this, making sketching your floorplan even more convenient than ever!

After you’re done with your sketch, you want to specify how each room will be used, e.g. living room for entertaining and hosting board game nights, or your home office doubling as a gaming room once 8-5 is over. Include any built-in or freestanding furniture you want to keep into your floorplan, and provide their approximate measurements.

A well-thought-out floorplan helps determine what’s possible given the constraints of your home’s architecture. It kickstarts the design process and prevents costly changes further down the road. Take time to sketch it out—the more visual information you provide upfront, the more customised your space will feel.


Go Into Specifics

It is important to clearly communicate specific details about each room to ensure your designer understands your vision. Provide detailed descriptions for flooring, wall treatments, lighting, and any built-in cabinetry or millwork. For the kitchen, specify preferred appliances, counter surfaces, cabinetry, and layout. In the bedrooms, note if you want carpet, hardwood or tile floors, the size and number of closets needed, and any particular furniture placement.

For bathrooms, indicate your preferred plumbing fixtures, lighting, flooring, cabinetry, counters, mirrors, and any accessories. The more details you provide the better, as this helps avoid confusion and ensures your designer can deliver exactly what you want. Don’t forget to note any existing furnishings, art or accents you wish to keep to aid in developing a cohesive design. By articulating a clear and comprehensive design brief with many specifics about each space, you set the stage for a smooth and successful renovation.

Get the Cost Breakdown and Time Estimate

Before moving forward with your renovation, request a detailed cost estimate and timeline from your interior designer. This will allow you to budget properly and ensure the project is completed on schedule. As part of their proposal, ask your designer to provide:

  • An itemised cost breakdown for materials, labour, and any additional expenses. Get prices for individual items like flooring, countertops, and lighting fixtures. Also ask for a total budget required to complete the project.
  • A project timeline outlining key milestones and deadlines. Ensure there are buffer periods built in for any unforeseen delays. Get estimated timeframes for completing each room or area of your home.
  • Payment terms and schedule. Typically, a deposit upfront followed by progress payments. Make sure payments are tied to key milestones being achieved. Hold back a percentage of the total fee until final inspection.

Going over the cost and timeline in detail with your designer before work commences will help set the right expectations and avoid unwanted surprises down the road. Provide any feedback and request clarifications to ensure full transparency and accountability throughout your renovation journey.

Take Your Collaboration Even Further with HomePay

Remember, however much of a winner you think your design brief is, it’s not an end-all solution to your home renovation. Any renovation project is a collaborative process and requires the input of both homeowner and ID. Be ready to go over your design brief multiple times with your ID, until you reach a conclusion that both of you are happy with. With that being said, having a good design brief takes out a lot of the guesswork during the renovation stage, helping you avoid unpleasant surprises such as additional charges and fostering a more transparent experience with your interior designer.

Want to take the collaboration between you and your ID even further? Pay with HomePay! With HomePay, your renovation funds are held securely in escrow, and only released to your ID when predetermined milestones have been met. HomePay creates a seamless and transparent renovation for all parties, so you can focus on making your vision a reality without the fear of the unknown. Take the next step in your renovation journey – download our mobile app today and discover the convenience of our platform!