It feels like the last year has changed from flying past to lasting ages and as we approach the anniversary of our first Covid lock-down, I can’t believe how much we have all adapted to the new ‘normal for now’. It felt like a good time to share what we learned about how to survive an interior design project during Covid. I hope it spurs you on to start on yours. Sure, there are some challenges, but it’s worth it!

This project has certainly been a challenge. We are on the home straight now and can see the end at last. The clients had previously had a small single-height extension built on the back of the property some years before. The internal space had not been reconfigured at the time. The resulting small dark internal kitchen and spaces didn’t really work.

Our brief was to completely reconfigure the ground floor of the home which involved the services of a Structural Engineer, so that we could open up the area to create light and the feeling of space.

Timescales were all impacted by the news of Covid

The design and specification was completed by Christmas 2019 with a building commencement date of the beginning of February 2020. The clients had moved out of the property and were expecting to move back in by the end of April. This of course couldn’t happen, but the clients did move back in in June into what was effectively still a building site. Very stressful for the client and our team. Managing expectation is key on a project but when the goalposts are constantly moving and you cannot deliver, events can snowball quite quickly.

As we all know, events moved very quickly, becoming very difficult once lockdown happened. We could keep some of the building work going but getting materials was becoming virtually impossible, the schedule was slipping and there was nothing we could do about it. Very soon manufacturing also ceased and we are still waiting for some fixtures and fittings ordered before lockdown.

The economic blow is significant

The economic blow to the practice cannot be underestimated. Delays and re-specifying materials (for sometimes more expensive ones) have to be paid for and the strain on the business will be significant. Interior Design is not the only sector suffering as we know and rolling with the punches is all we can do now. Not being able to plan is the biggest problem.

My top tips on how to survive your interior design project during Covid:

  1. Manage expectations – be real about delays on product delivery and keep everyone involved aware of the expected (and revised) schedules
  2. Communicate – with everyone, every day. Even a quick daily update to say ‘no news today’ makes everyone feel like progress is happening
  3. Allow yourself not to be responsible for everything! Seriously, it weighs down hard on you when you carry responsibility for the supply chain.
  4. Use your trusted suppliers – you’ve built relationships with suppliers over the years and now is the time to trust them and let them find what you need
  5. Be absolutely clear about the rules – the regulations about working and distancing are constantly changing. Before you start work each day, check the latest updates

We have some fixtures and fittings still to arrive but I am sure despite everything, this will be a project that we will be proud of.