Trade Tales | Sep 8, 2023
From managing movers to choosing the right coffee table book, a successful installation relies heavily on execution. We asked five designers—Jaimee Longo, Swati Goorha, Lauren Svenstrup, Karen B. Wolf and Guillaume Coutheillas—how they nail the process, including creating an efficient schedule and adding small details.
DOWN TO THE DETAILS
“I live and die by detailed spreadsheets! Organized by room and color coded, I am able to delegate quickly on-site with all of the info needed. The first hour tends to be the most hectic as everyone settles into their task and flow, but once we get into a groove, everything moves very smoothly. I walk through with the head of the delivery team to show them where each room is located. They get a copy of my furnishings spreadsheet, which has each item they are delivering pictured along with a room location, so they are able to [place] items [in the right] location as they unpack. Once light fixtures and wall hangings appear, I delegate my install team to start [getting those up]. I reserve my handyman the next day for any punch list items.” —Jaimee Longo, The Layered House, Los Angeles
TO THE TRADE
“We work with a roster of trusted trades for installs. We make sure to be present on the first day any tradespeople start the work. We share detailed drawings and install specs with them, and review all the site details before installations. After that, we leave them to do what they do best. They have access to our phone numbers in case they have any on-site questions or in case they want us to come and troubleshoot something on-site.” —Swati Goorha, Swati Goorha Designs, New Providence, New Jersey
STEP BY STEP
“We schedule installs in the most compact and comprehensive way possible. Day one includes myself and the primary designer overseeing big-picture items and placement. The second day is more about the details, and the rest of the team joins and completes everything from making beds to leading the art installs. I’m typically out on that day, in vintage stores and boutiques to pull a few final pieces as the design takes shape. Day three is tying up loose ends and accessorizing. Cleaning crews come in to ensure everything looks fresh and polished, and fabrics are sprayed with a protectant. For the final reveal, it’s just me and the design director there, but we make it a point to recognize all team members for their efforts as we’re walking the client through the finished space and are very vocal about what went into the process. We mandate that clients cannot be there during the final install, as we feel it’s important for them not to see the finished product until it’s fully done—that way, they imagine everything came together seamlessly. All the client should see is the bottle of champagne and charcuterie board on the counter.” —Lauren Svenstrup, Studio Sven, Chicago
“Prior to an install, we send out a reminder email with details about the delivery window (typically a four-hour range), fees (a check, plus tips for movers and helpers), preparation (remove all furniture and items from rooms) and installation protocol. At the install, we always take off our shoes or wear booties. Like getting ready for a new arrival, we have a bag packed with furniture pens, magic erasers, felt pads, scissors, snippers, paper towels, cleaner and a vacuum.” —Karen B. Wolf, K+Co. Living, Short Hills, New Jersey
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
“We have a small army at [our firm] that handles every step of the installation process. We usually set up a remote office in one of the rooms and bring Wi-Fi, power and a table and chairs if needed. Our installs are very fast, so it’s almost surgical, as every team member or vendor needs to operate in a very clean, tight and precise manner. For example, if someone is drilling, they usually have a drill with an integrated vacuum or carry a mini-vacuum to clean at the same time the work is happening. We always try to make it fun with music playing and a candle or two burning.” —Guillaume Coutheillas, FrenchCalifornia, New York and San Francisco
Want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter, which recaps the week’s stories, and get in-depth industry news and analysis each quarter by subscribing to our print magazine. Join BOH Insider for discounts, workshops and access to special events such as the Future of Home conference.