What It’s Like to Work With a Full-Service Design Firm
Working with a full-service design firm on your custom home means collaborating with an incredibly organized, focused and creative team of professionals. Our in-house designers work closely with our residential building design department to ensure your home is both beautiful and perfectly suited to your specific lifestyle. In addition to our internal team of interior designers and residential building design team, we work closely with builders and vendors in our local design community. By working with external partners from the beginning, we are able to keep your entire project on track and within budget. Our in-house team will guide you through the design process from start to finish. While we take a leadership role, we value our clients’ input at every stage of the project. Most designers develop their own specific style and only take on projects that embody their studios’ aesthetic. However, our clients will tell you that our design agency puts homeowners and their vision first. In the end, our primary goal is to deliver a home that expresses each client’s individual personality. Our spaces capture the client’s unique style, suits their needs and evolves with their family over time. From the initial consultation to the final reveal, learn all about what it’s like to work with a full-service residential design firm below.
FAQs About Working With a Full-Service Design Firm
. # 1 W H A T I S A F U L L – S E R V I C E R E S I D E N T I A L D E S I G N F I R M ?
A full-service residential design firm works with clients from the initial consultation and preliminary construction drawings through installation day and the final reveal. They handle everything from setting client expectations to finding the right builder, from procuring products to installing all the furniture in your new home.
Most full-service residential design firms assign an interior designer, a residential architect and procurement or product managers to each project. Each member of our internal team — from interior design to residential building design — brings their unique perspective and personal experience to our projects.
Design firms will ensure your home is structurally sound and meets all local building code requirements. To do so, your residential design firm will work with a number of contractors and subcontractors. These could include a builder, landscape architect, geotechnical engineer, structural engineer, GC, electrician, plumber and/or construction team.
In “Building Your Dream Home Dream Team,” we explain that coordinating with “builders…[and] other participants early in the process” is vital for full-service design firms. By involving external partners from the get-go, we save time, prevent cost overruns and avoid miscommunications.
What Does the Laura U Design Collective Offer?
Led by CEO Laura Umansky and Creative Director Gina Elkins, LUDC recently transitioned from an interior design firm to a full-service residential design firm. Today, we specialize in foundation to furnishings. This means that our team thrives on new construction projects. We take dream homes from an undeveloped plot of land to a stunning space that is exactly the right fit for our clients.
Though foundation to furnishings is our specialty, our multidisciplinary team works on a huge variety of projects from Texas to Aspen and beyond. From new furnishings to gut renovations, we do it all. Clients should keep in mind that some residential design firms focus solely on interior design jobs.
. # 2 W H A T D O E S T H E F U L L – S ER V I C E R E S I D E N T I A L D E S I G N P R O C E S S L O O K L I K E ?
Starting with a client consultation and culminating in a final reveal, the residential design process is quite similar from one firm to the next. Most full-service design firms will begin by meeting with the client and certain team members. Together, they will discuss the client’s vision for their project, establish the project’s scope and set reasonable expectations. This includes a rough budget and timeline. It might also include a site visit and preliminary walk-through.
Your residential design firm will develop construction drawings and architectural plans, apply for permits and help you choose the right builder or GC. They will manage product procurement and change orders. Towards the end of your project, they will install furnishings and decor, manage landscaping and arrange final inspections.
Our team does all the above — and more. Below is a brief outline of our process at the Laura U Design Collective. For a complete description of our home design process, head over to our recent post “Foundation to Furnishings: Our Holistic Approach to Home Design.”
Our Holistic Home Design Process
First in our holistic home design process is the discovery phase. During the discovery phase of each residential design process, we meet with the client to identify their needs. We also establish scope and work with the client to best understand how each space should feel and function.
This is the phase during which we “get to know” our clients. We learn about their lifestyles, their families and their day-to-day. For remodels, we focus on key areas where the home could be updated to better suit the client’s needs. For new construction, we consider a variety of layouts and smart solutions.
Next is the inspiration phase. During the inspiration phase, our team creates a visual concept of their home design. This includes mood boards and other informal interpretations of the client’s vision.
To get an idea of what our clients are looking for, we often share images, materials and color palettes from previous projects. We also encourage clients to bring their Pinterest pages, scrapbooks and other resources to lead discussion during the inspiration phase.
The design phase is when our interior designers and residential building design team work with the client, builders and engineers to develop all necessary documents. We then submit these construction documents to the local planning department as part of our permit applications.
During the procurement phase, our full-service design firm sources all the products your new home needs. Our in-house procurement team orders, tracks and ensures delivery of furnishings, accessories and all other materials needed to finish your residential design project.
Once all materials and products are delivered to your home, we enter the implementation phase. The implementation phase is when our full-service design firm demolishes existing structures, begins construction and eventually installs all furniture and other elements. This is when our team paints walls, installs appliances, hangs window treatments and places the finishing touches on your space.
We like to finish each project with an intimate celebration honoring your new home. From a signature scent to delicious eats, we encourage our clients to gather with friends and family.
Our CEO Laura Umansky recently celebrated the final reveal of her Mountain Lane Show House in Aspen-Snowmass. We popped champagne, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and marveled at our team’s accomplishments!
. # 3 W H A T S H O U L D C L I E N T S D O T O P R E P A R E F O R T H E H O M E D E S I G N P R O C E S S ?
To prepare for the home design process, we encourage clients to set realistic expectations that pair their aesthetic vision with their family’s day-to-day needs. During their initial consultation with our team, clients will pin-point exactly what their home needs to be both functional and beautiful.
However, having a rough idea of what that vision is — and what that vision could cost to realize — is helpful. To that end, we recommend that clients “balance their goals for a custom home with their budget.”
We explain this in further detail throughout our post “LUDC Guide: Building Your Custom Home Today.” If possible, clients should prepare to describe their aesthetic vision, their family’s needs and their everyday lifestyle during their initial consultation.
. # 4 H O W D O Y O U S E T A B U D G E T F O R D E S I G N P R O J E C T S ?
We always try to paint a realistic picture of what clients can expect during the home design process. This includes setting a budget and timeline for each project. Everything from excavating the build site to leveling land and from installing the plumbing to hanging light fixtures takes time and money.
As we note in “LUDC Guide: Building Your Custom Home Today,” there are “three major cost elements at play in each design choice.” These include the cost of materials, the cost of shipping and the cost of assembly and installation. Both clients and their design team should consider these three elements when establishing a budget for their project.
Clients should keep in mind that working with a full-service design firm could limit costs. This is because established firms have both local and international industry connections. These connections make the procurement process much more seamless.
. # 5 H O W D O Y O U D E T E R M I N E A T I M E L I N E F O R E A C H P R O J E C T ?
Some interior design projects only take a few months, although procuring furniture and other decor objects from international sources can elongate the process. Designing a custom home from scratch is a much more complex, time-consuming endeavor. According to a blog post from Texas-based Sims Luxury Builders, the custom home design process can take between “10 months and 2 years.”
Most residential designers consider the home’s size, layout, accessibility of materials and current market forces when determining a timeline for their projects. They also weigh access to builders and other external partners when designing a custom home.
For example, one of our clients might wish to work with a specific builder. If that builder is not available until six months after the projected start date, that would elongate the project’s timeline.
. # 6 H O W D O Y O U C H O O S E P A R T N E R S A N D V E N D O R S ? H O W D O Y O U S O U R C E P R O D U C T S ?
Over the past sixteen years, the Laura U Design Collective has developed a number of meaningful partnerships. We have established partnerships with local, regional and international brands. We often work with Hudson Valley Lighting, Vetrazzo, Paragon Systems, Kohler, Monogram Appliances, Permiano Builders, Cosentino and Sherwin Williams — among many others.
As our team proceeds from the discovery phase through the inspiration phase and into the design phase, we think about which partners make sense. Eventually, the time comes to order furniture, finishings and decor — whether stock or custom. At that point, we turn to our practiced procurement team to ensure everything matches the client’s aesthetic.
. # 7 W H A T D O P R E V I O U S C L I E N T S S A Y A B O U T W O R K I N G W I T H L U D C ?
Curious about what previous clients say about working with the Laura U Design Collective? Check out this testimonial from one of our clients, DeeDee, about her experience working with our team.
We’d love the opportunity to work with you to create your dream home.