Creating a Brief for your Interior Designer

With the excitement of your first meeting with an interior designer booked, it’s time to create a Brief for them.  Good architects and designers bring plenty of creative thinking and experience with them, but we aren’t mind readers … We need something that defines and encapsulates what you’d like to achieve and that’s where the Brief comes in.  It’s crucial in helping the interior designer, and any other professionals who will be working on the project, set off in the right direction and keep on track.  They need to understand how you live, what’s important to you and how you’d like your finished home to look and feel.

Don’t be daunted by all of this – it should be exciting to dig down into what you love about the property and how it needs to change to make it truly feel like yours.  It’s your chance to make your mark, without having to figure out any of the detail of how to reconfigure the layout or which shade of paint to choose.  This is Big Picture stuff – your designer will sweat the detail!

The Big Question – What’s Your Vision?

Ultimately, this is the question the Brief needs to answer, so it’s helpful to keep that in mind.

There are lots of ways of answering that question, and maybe breaking it down into a series of smaller questions might feel a little less daunting for you. Consider things like how you want the space to make you feel and what brings you joy – a touch of the quirky? a place for everything? a quiet reading spot?

The interior design needs to trigger a happy emotional response for you, so it makes sense to approach your brief from a perspective of feeling.

A Brief that opens with a statement such as: “A home that helps me leave the stress of the day at the front door, that feels calm and uncluttered, and connected to its coastal surroundings”, would be a great guiding place from which your interior designer can start.

Tanya Bentley Contemporary Interior Designer Cornwall

A blank page can feel a bit overwhelming to fill, so constructing your Brief as a bit of a Q&A can help. If you’re really struggling, perhaps ask your interior designer if they can provide the question framework – many do this as part of their process anyway – for you to respond to.

To get the ball rolling, you could weave the following questions and answers into your Brief:

  • A contemporary architectural statement or a sensitive period renovation?
  • Pared back and minimal or rich with decorative detailing?
  • Calm and uncluttered or patterned, colourful and full of collectibles?
  • Crisp, modern furniture and fittings or timeworn antiques and heirlooms?

Tanya Bentley Contemporary Interior Designer Cornwall

Think about what you really love and what would make a big difference to your everyday:

  • Are you longing to open up a series of cramped rooms into a much more open plan space?
  • Do you crave a quiet space to shut yourself away from the world – whether that’s for work or to curl up with a good book?
  • Is a huge sofa for the whole family to pile onto for movie night a must-have?
  • Would a freestanding bath be part of the bathroom of your dreams?
  • Would you like a bootroom separate from the laundry room?
  • Might you want a room or a space carved out for a hobby – somewhere to paint or exercise?
  • Would you like ambient lighting circuits at the touch of a button?


Your Brief – What Form Should it Take?

Briefs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are word documents with bullet-pointed lists, others take it into a spreadsheet with tabs breaking down wishes and wants per room. Maybe you’re a more visual person who loves creating a moodboard full of images, whether it’s on Pinterest or in a simple old fashioned scrapbook.

Creating your Brief shouldn’t be laborious or stressful, but take your time to think it through properly and take the route that suits you and your way of working best. If you spend your 9-5 working in spreadsheets and that’s where you feel most comfortable, then open up Excel.  If you’re better at articulating yourself with pictures over words, then a creative cork board might be the medium for you.


Tanya Bentley Contemporary Interior Designer Cornwall


The Brief in Practice – A Tool to use from Start to Finish

Once you have a clear plan of action, be sure to invite contributions from everyone you live with so they all feel involved in the process. It’s fine to have one person leading the Brief, but it’s important that everyone has some agency over the spaces that are important to them. Once it’s all pulled together, it’s nice to do a ‘sign-off’ meeting with your family members to check everyone’s happy, before handing it over to your designer.

We refer to our clients’ Briefs throughout the design process. The Brief guides us on layouts, it informs our colour palettes, it directs us as we choose which products and suppliers to use, and it’s our check-in point to confirm we’re heading in the right direction for our clients.   The brief is what steers us and keeps on course, so that at the final reveal, your home looks and feels just as you’d hoped for, maybe even better!