Back of a napkin sketch
The 4-5 page residential design brief commonly used by a design professional, or DIY homeowner might as well be scribbled on the back of a paper napkin while waiting for a coffee at your local cafe!

A ‘typical’ residential project design brief is too simplistic for the most critical document and communication tool in a renovation or building project. One of the mistakes that many make is sketching out ideas BEFORE they work out how their design personality will impact their project. Similar to writing on the back of a napkin?

What if there was a better way for the homeowner to get to know their ‘design personality’? Would this guide the DIYer like a compass? Would the homeowner be able to give a copy of what inspires and excites them to their chosen architect, interior designer, etc, so that all parties can bring their expertise to guide vs control the project outcome?

Comprehensive Ultimate Design Brief
There is now an alternative; ' Your Ultimate Design Brief' which the homeowner documents their unique design personality over a 4+ week period. Is this justified? Read on to decide yourself.

I have to admit that over the last 35+ years I have been very frustrated with myself and the entire residential renovation, room makeover and design-build industry. 

 As a qualified architect, interior designer, window treatments consultant and kitchen designer, (phew!), I have been “around the block” a few times over the last 35+ years with 100’s clients wanting to have a dream room makeover or major renovation – through to residential ‘design and build’ from scratch. 

In all of these positions of responsibility, I have worked for myself and others. In all roles there is always a “Design Brief” – aka a document for the client to fill out prior to me or my colleagues engaging with them.

Unfortunately, like the many outlined online – for example  Stuff newspaper article ‘Renovation 101 How To Create A Project Design Brief’ – they are all totally and utterly inadequate.

And this is why I have been so frustrated

Objectives and Goals Before Starting Any Form of Room-makeover, Renovation or Build-From-Scratch Residential Home Project. 

  • * Yes, you definitely need to make a ‘room makeover design brief’. 
  • * Yes, an in-depth ‘home renovation design brief’ will guide you (if you are DIYer) or, your chosen design professional (if you are not “creative” or “handy”).
  • * Yes, an in-depth ‘design and build from scratch design brief’ will make sure you don’t blow your budget.
  • * BUT, the rest of the suggestions in that article, are about 1/64th of what is required for a design brief to actually achieve those objectives they talk about.

So, how can a design brief deliver on these goals?

It has taken me 2+ years from 2020 to create the solution, but the actual problem has been nagging and upsetting me for decades… 

I found over the years that it is practically impossible to spend sufficient time with a prospective homeowner to learn what I call ‘Creating Design Clarity’ via the ‘Your Ultimate Design Brief®’ programme.  

  • * How can a homeowner tell you about themselves and their preferences when you don’t give them the tools to learn this about themselves? 
  • * How can a homeowner document their design personality if you don’t give them examples and help guide them?
  • * How can you fast track this process? You can’t, I found out it takes a homeowner a minimum of 3-4 weeks to go through this process – assuming they can dedicate 30-40 hours to each of the tasks required for a satisfactory outcome. 

This brings us to the point of all of this! What is a satisfactory outcome – or put it another way, what are the consequences of NOT doing this preparatory work properly?

I decided to find out, and here is the highlight of my independent research. Regardless of whether the homeowner is DIY, or, uses a design professional (architect, interior designer, kitchen designer, etc): 

  • * Only 24.6% of homeowners who have finished a residential renovation or room makeover LOVE the finished result! (Are you in that elite group?)
  • * Nearly half (42.3%) of homeowners are not satisfied with their finished home improvement project, and pretend they like it… (Is this you?)
  • * The reasons they are not happy or satisfied with the finished project has nothing to do with the quality of the design or the work – it is due to a mismatch between the style, textures, colours, patterns, accessories used are not harmonious with the user(s) of the space. (Oops!)
  • * Up to a whopping 29.6% of the budget spent on renovation or room makeover is wasted on budget blowout due to rework! This is usually from changing your mind or purchasing the wrong item: Bathroom = $1k2+, Kitchen = $16k+, Build-from-scratch = $100k+. (Urgh!)
  • * All homeowners usually complete a design brief of some description prior to starting… however it is not financially justifiable or fruitful for either party (design professional or homeowner) to spend 30+ one-on-one hours to the tune of ~$2000 to $3000 to create a comprehensive design brief… (What!?)
  • * If the homeowner fills out a design brief (without someone professionally mentoring them), then they cut corners or use some corny 2-minute online quiz to find their design personality… (Oh dear!).
  • * If they did create a useful design brief, it was held by the design professional – rather than the IP owned by the homeowner… and have to repeat the same process again and again… (Sigh)
  • * Homeowners typically renovate at least 3 significant spaces (bathroom, kitchen, lounge/living and bedroom) in each of their home(s), and make the same design mistakes over and over again. i.e. they do not get maximum value from their chosen architect, interior designer or any design professional. (What’s the solution?)
  • * New Zealanders spend on average 69.7% of each day at home indoors. (Yes, really)
  • * 73% of people who are happy with their home are also happy in general, however, only 15% of homeowners have a ‘happy home’.(I don’t like those odds!)

Do you want to love all the spaces in your home, even more than you do now, and you want to share that room with your loved one? Are you willing to invest a little bit of time over a period of 3-9 weeks to learn your design personality and pay back that investment on the first home improvement you undertake? 

Thankfully a satisfactory outcome is now guaranteed! The first step is to learn the 3 essential prep steps for your next dream renovation, a room makeover or build from scratch – regardless of whether you are going to use a design professional, or DIY the entire thing!

Then I recommend you read some of my other blogs as you go on this journey of discovery with me! It is time for your next residential home renovation (indoors or maybe that outdoor entertainment idea you have) – to be a love affair! Why can’t you enjoy yourself even more than you do now in your home? Why should you waste (any) unnecessary hard-earned money on avoidable rework? Why should you have to do this process of self-discovery every time you start a new renovation or room makeover?

What are your thoughts on this topic? I would love to hear from you. Either comment below, or send me a private message