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How Long Does an Interior Design Project Take?

san francisco modern dining room

If only we had a dollar for every time we heard this question… or every time someone called us in October to finish a project by Thanksgiving. (You know we wish we could, but some things simply aren’t possible!) 

Here’s the simple truth. Design timelines? Complicated. (Just like budgeting.) Every project is different, even the ones that might look similar. And be warned that home renovation shows aren’t painting an accurate picture of real life. In most cases, you should double or triple their quoted timelines.

So, what will influence project timelines? How can you predict yours in advance? When should you reach out to your favorite design team? Let’s talk about it. 

What will influence the timeline of your design project?

You and your neighbor, Judy, both decide to renovate your family rooms. You both hire Coddington Design (we’re honored), the rooms are fairly equal in size, and your projects start around the same time. Are they likely to finish at the same time? Nope! For three reasons…

1. Scope of work

Hands down, the single biggest factor in determining your renovation timeline is the scope of work, which is simply industry-speak for all of the things that will be happening in your space. 

Let’s say your family room updates will include refacing the fireplace, making some cosmetic refreshes (like paint and lighting), and bringing in new furnishings. By contrast, your neighbor wants to change their whole floor plan to create the open concept they’ve been dreaming of. 

You can see how these timelines would be very different. Scope is everything.

2. The designer/client relationship

You, my friend, know how to make quick, confident decisions. You have been following Coddington Design for years, and you trust that we have the know-how and eye for design that you love. When we present our design concept to you, you sense that it’s perfect for your family, and you tell us to run with it!

Your neighbor, well… Judy’s a little indecisive. She has a general idea for what she likes, but she prefers to see multiple options before making the best choice for her family. If she keeps reselecting items or rearranging the floor plan, that’s okay — iteration is part of our job. But her project is going to take longer than yours (and will cost more).

All that is to say that your relationship with your designer and your ability to trust their decisions really does impact your timeline. We do our best to spend quality time upfront, diving into your likes, dislikes, goals, and lifestyle, so when we do finally present your design concept, saying yes will feel like a no-brainer. 

3. Unforeseen setbacks

This is the one thing TV gets right: expect the unexpected. It is not a matter of IF setbacks will happen, but WHEN they will happen. It could be anything from permitting delays, manufacturing delays (COVID), shipping delays (COVID), items arriving damaged, scheduling conflicts with tradespeople…. you name it! 

If you live in an older house, sometimes we won’t know what we’re working with until we begin to open up the walls. This can add to the timeline if we find problems that need to be repaired right away. (What’s under your neighbor’s floorboards might be different than what’s under yours.) 

The upside of all this is that you will have a highly experienced team managing these setbacks for you. You can cruise along stress-free knowing that it will be handled in the best way possible. We always stay in constant communication with you through weekly updates, and sometimes even daily, if we’re in the midst of a remodel. We’ve got your back.


nantucket master bedroom vaulted ceilings balcony fresh contemporary luxurious timeless

From our Beach House project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Let’s talk numbers…

By now, you know that me giving you concrete numbers for your project timeline is impossible. However, if I don’t give you something to work with, you could be in the wrong ballpark entirely. Here are some rough guidelines to get you started:

  • The design of a single room with just furniture and soft furnishings (no renovations) can take 2 to 3 months, not including shipping timelines or waiting for your desired professionals to be available (many will be booked out a month or two).
  • For multi-room furnishings projects, you can expect your project to take about 3 months per room.
  • For smaller-scale renovations projects with furnishing (such as a single-room with a new floor plan), you can expect about 6 months.
  • For larger projects that will require permits (large-scale remodels, multi-room renovations, and additions), expect your project to take about 1 year.
  • A whole-home renovation could take YEARS from concept to completion, but the average timeline is around 1.5 years for a 3,000 sq ft home.
  • If you want your small renovation or furnishings project completed by the holidays, reach out in March, April, or May!

Last but not least, remember that the professionals you most want to work with may not be available right away. Plan to reach out to them at least a month or two (or three) in advance of when you would like your project to begin.


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From our Beach House project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Final words of advice on design timelines

Now that you have a better understanding of what goes into defining the timeline of your design project, the best advice I can give you is to be flexible and comfortable handing over the reins to a team that does this for a living (and genuinely loves it). It will lessen your stress levels and make the process as enjoyable as the final destination.

If you have any questions or feel ready to create an inspired home that supports your ambitions, let’s chat. Book a discovery call with us here & let’s get to know each other.



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