Interior Design and Property Development With Dani Wales and Ashlee Moyle

Below is the transcript from Petes chat on all things interior design and property development with Dani Wales and Ashlee Moyle from over at Red Door Project.

Thanks for coming in today Ladies, to talk to us about Interior Design and the benefits and value that interior design brings to property development projects.

So, ladies, what are the benefits of engaging an Interior Designer?

Well I feel like it’s a long list. Firstly, we know what we’re doing, we know the product, we know the suppliers, we know where to source everything. As an example, I wouldn’t try my hands at carpentry because I am not a carpenter. We would hire a carpenter for the work.

Majority of the people who come to us for assistance with interior design, are coming to us because we know what we’re doing. And they aren’t able to pull their vision together to give to their builder, architect or draftsperson, whoever that might be.  

By hiring an interior designer, it means that their vision can come to life. We will produce a whole design package, which means less questions when it comes build time. And a quicker build to end product.

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It is also a visual process for the clients to really see their vision come together. The end result is a beautiful package that translates what people have got inside their heads to make sure that flows through into the end product. It all comes about through a process. 

From the start there’ll be a questionnaire with each new client. We take a deep dive into what’s going on in their mind and how their family lives and wants to live inside their new space e.g. where they eat their toast. Do they have a bar or a glass of wine, all those types of things.

From there we’re able to really start pulling a design brief together. They can get a better look and feel for the design and then we’ll seek guidance from the client to establish if we’re on the right track.  Often the client really needs to focus on other aspects of the build. And we focus on how the home is going to look and feel.

Do people get concerned with how much an interior designer may cost?

Absolutely they do but often it can be a bit of a misconception because at the end of the day we’re producing a full documentation and interior design package that takes all the hard work out for the client in the build process as well as eliminating expensive errors.  It is all there and ready to go.

With any project, budget needs to be considered and if you’re not planning on spending a huge amount of money or if it’s a property to flip, perhaps the money is better spent on services that we offer and it’s better spent on consultants that are essential to the build, but if it’s a property that you know you’re going to live in or you’re designing for somebody then definitely it’s well worth seeking an expert in that field.

It also helps to engage an interior designer to help highlight the elements that you really want to shine in the house. In those areas of concern, we can help eliminate those non-necessary things and then bring in other design elements that are really important to you.

When you talk about the documentation and being able to run a proper tender build process, we see a lot of value in that from a property development sense and getting the right pricing from our builders.

Definitely, I think you know when you are going through the tender process. The other arm of our business is construction so and I think one of the things that we offer is the end-to-end package. It makes that tender process so much easier. We know exactly what we have to cost for the job. The client gets those costings and they know that aside from anything that’s unforeseen, that is the price that their build is going to cost.  

When we receive packages from other interior designers or other architects and it’s not fully specified, you’re not really quoting apples to apples. It’s a bit like picking a price out of thin air of what something might cost.  Say tiles, for instance, that might not be specified and you’re putting an allowance on it. The real cost could vary greatly.  

When it comes down to joinery detailing, for example, you might have a very basic kitchen design or living room entertainment design or bedroom wardrobe design and you quote based off what’s there but it’s actually not detailed and taken what the client actually wants and needs into consideration.   The costs can move up and down. Depending on that as well as design fees, offsetting time delays. Which can often happen with someone who is trying to do everything themselves.

Having an interior designed by a professional who can cut the time in half and also make selections and do details that work with a budget and it’s not a guessing game, we’ve found has been really helpful in our developments since working with Red Door. The buyers that use your services, don’t really get involved in the finishes and fixtures anymore because it’s been done by Red Door design professionals and it looks fantastic.

I think a lot of people might come to you looking for a product. They want a turnkey property that they can move into. They want all of the hard work has been done for them and all they have to worry about is moving day.  Being able to offer a service that. Within our business, we have been able to structure so that it is scalable. We can offer as much or as little as they want and provide the client with a full documentation package. A package that includes all the fixtures and finishes that you know a build would need.  We one quote the job and two complete the job. So you know it’s a really great offering and it’s a really popular service.

On the other spectrum is the end to end for us. We work closely with the architects and drafts people to create the floor plan. Working on the clients brief from the get-go and then right through to the end.

So what do people need to consider when engaging interior designers?

I think it’s a relationship essentially. I think you need to pick someone who you resonate with initially and obviously your budget and aesthetics. You will be working closely together for the best part of a year so you need to make sure that you’re connecting with the person that you’re working with. Ensure that the interior designer is listening to you.

Often the clients will try to convey something or have an idea and they just can’t get across. So being able to really listen and understand and break down what they’re trying to get across, is really important. It comes down to the relationship between the client and designer. You need to pick an interior designer that’s going to listen to you. Rather than run off on their own tangent or agenda.  

It is a really big issue in our industry. There are a lot of creatives out there that are designers and architects as well. But the design for their portfolio, not to actually see their work come to life and not for clients. The brief is missed, the budgets are blown out.

I think we’re exposed to a lot of that because of the construction side of our business. As I’ve said about taking on jobs from other architects and designers that have been working on it for years. By the time it gets to us and we’ve costed it. It’s double the budget because it’s not really been considered properly early on in the project. Or perhaps there’s been a rise in construction costs or materials since the original pricing.

It might be a lack of education when they were studying. Pricing and costing is not taught. So that’s not really taken into consideration by some designers. They’re just designing a beautiful space.  We really consider that when we do everything.

I imagine that it is super important you guys get involved right at the start.  Once you get halfway through and all the work you’ve done is resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in billed blowouts you know.

Yes.  Although, we would never let it get to that. We always veto each other when things are too expensive and that’s why it’s really good to have such a collaborative approach within our office.  We are working closely with our builder and construction managers.  We’re always costing while we’re choosing a material or item. We’re always investigating what the cost implications might be. How will it be applied and how much it will cost and if it is even possible and to code. There are a lot of people, creatives especially, that will have these grand ideas that will never work.  So, we all work closely with the build side, check and buy items, keeping our finger on the pulse on the costings at all times.

It’s the first thing we do when we pick a product and I think you know. With the work that we do for Little Fish,  we’re able to really understand the benchmark in terms of costs and what products to choose from the material pool that will fall in line with those costings.

It can be challenging at times, but that’s part of what we do, all day every day.  We love the challenge of having to find new and amazing things to apply that are cost-effective. 

The value of interior design and property development

That’s where the value is for us as residential developers Melbourne and the clients we work with. By sticking with the budgets and achieving our margins. It’s probably the most important thing in our business. As you know aligning ourselves with Red Door Projects allows us to have our cake and eat it too. You have it looking amazing and still hit your margins.

That is the beauty of our products. Essentially the client meets you halfway which is what we do for Little Fish. It takes out of a little bit of the emotion. So with an end to end design we’re literally, having breakfast, lunch and dinner with our clients.  We’re with them a lot, always talking to them. We’re always communicating with them. We need to know them inside and out, so there’s a lot of emotion when we are designing the project.  When they meet you halfway, there is the emotion but it’s more about creating a space we know is going to function right and look really good and be within budget.

It’s more of a holistic view and you both appeal to a broader market, rather than homing into a single client.

Yes, and we do market research in the area, find out what’s going on out there, what else is being offered, look at what people are buying, what they’re wanting,  

We try to stay away from the current trends. We definitely take inspiration from them. But we like to run our own race and think about what we want to see. I’d say we follow more colour palettes that we’d follow and what’s not going to date.  The end result is timeless so when years go by and the buyer might want to resell the property, they are buying a product that isn’t going to limit their market come that time. These are all taken into consideration.

Thanks again for coming in guys and explaining to people why they should use an interior designer. I think quality interior design is really valuable in residential property development projects.   Whatever it is I think the amount of real estate you’re dealing with and the dollar figures we’re talking about. It is probably too risky to not use an interior designer.

peter kelly

To put it mildly, Peter Kelly is enthusiastic about real estate. When he’s not looking at properties, or visiting potential sites, Peter can be found online at realestate. com. For him, it’s more than a job – it’s an obsession. Peter is a co-founder here at Little Fish Property developments.