Avoid Renovation Woes: Mock-ups

Author's Note: This is part of a series of blog posts aimed at avoiding renovation woes.

After the Cherry Hill Kitchen renovation was complete, I asked my client what she wished homeowners knew before starting the renovation process. As a professional designer, I often take my experience and understanding of renovations for granted. This blog series will help you become better acquainted with the renovation process and common pitfalls. I believe that the more you know going into a renovation project, the more successful it will be because you will have a better idea of what to expect.

"It may cost more money to have them do a mock-up of sorts but it is far less costly than having to tear something up and do over" - Carla, Homeowner, Cherry Hill Kitchen Renovation

Some of the most beautiful projects require semi-custom or custom details. Interior designers have the innate ability to visualize things that do not yet exist, but sometimes even we need to see some kind of model or mock-up to wrap our heads around an idea. At times, we want to further investigate the finishing where two materials meet, how two parts physically join at an intersection, or understand extremely three-dimensional elements like three pendentive domes in a ceiling (yes, I built a 3D model of this for a project). When interior designers present two dimensional drawings, a client will sometimes request a 3D model or rendering to depict the designer's ideas more clearly, which we are more than happy to do. Sometimes, clients think this is a waste of money. Mock-ups of any sort can often save you money. 

I had a client that wanted new window treatments for their formal living room. It was a challenge because they wanted to show off the traditional window casing, however the window jamb was too thin to accommodate any mounting inside the jamb itself. In fact, the last owners mounted blinds on the beautiful wood casing, right over two decorative rosettes—a huge design no no!. Why have beautiful interior casing if you cover it up? To make things a bit more complex, the windows have a round top which we did not want to cover either. The solution was to mount stationary decorative drapery above the windows so that the casing could be covered the least amount possible. The client also wanted to investigate two different color schemes, so I did a few hand and digital renderings.


The client was investing in these drawings, but the fee required to produce these was significantly less than just the fabric required for these window treatments. Imagine if the client picked a color way, paid for fabric, paid for the custom treatments to be made, paid for the install, and then hated them and decided to replace the treatments? Now that's a waste of money!It is sort of like getting a suit or gown custom tailored. The garment is pinned so you can preview the look before you give the go ahead for the fabric to be cut and sewn. Mock-ups are valuable because you cannot simply return a custom piece if you change your mind.

Often with custom interior architecture, contractors will put together a mock-up of a particular piece onsite for your review. To wrap your head around something, it may be necessary to see it in physical form. For example, suppose you want to put a new custom wood mantle from Italy in your fabulous double height great room and although your interior designer has drafted a design, you're still not sure what overall size the mantle should be. It would be A LOT more cost effective to pin down a size with a mock-up—simply made of plywood showing the overall size of the piece—rather than have the custom piece made, shipped, and installed and then deciding it is the wrong size for the room.

Renderings, 3D models, and mock-ups are all tools used to get a better idea about an element in a room before final decisions are made. Sometimes I, as an interior designer can visualize things while the client cannot. It is our job to find a way to convey an idea as clearly to the client as possible. However, in many cases we do not create renderings, 3D models, or mock-ups for every element of every project to keep our client's project within their specified budget. If there is ever a point during the design process where you feel it would help you to understand an element better by seeing another type of visual, just ask your designer!

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