April 1, 2019 - No Comments!

Working with Birdhouse: Budgeting + Procurement

Recent full-service interior design project in Omaha, NE.

This article is two of four in our Working With Birdhouse series. Read the first article on Discovery + Design here.

It’s All About That Budget

Design is always the fun part, but budgeting is really the star of the show. We create informed budget ranges and materials allowances and then respect them throughout the entire project. This involves first specifying the finishes, furniture, lighting, art, and decor. And then working with our construction partners to develop budget estimates for labor and construction materials.

But how do you know what your goal budget is? Well, that’s why you came to us!

Cropped example of a services proposal for a full-service project. A detailed construction bid would also be included for any major remodeling project.

Our first question before we even meet for an initial consult is, “What’s your budget?” Not because we’re nosy and need to know how much money you have in your bank account. Honestly, it’s always a little weird talking about someone else’s money. But we want to set up every project for success, and if we don’t start with realistic budget expectations, we’re creating a recipe for disaster.

The real design world is not an HGTV makeover where an entire house renovation seems to cost $10,000 and is completed in two weeks (or 30 minutes). After close to a decade working on everything from living room makeovers to multi-million dollar commercial projects, I can guarantee that pretty much every budget breakdown you see on TV doesn’t calculate all the actual design time, labor, and materials costs. Much of it is essentially donated for free in exchange for exposure. Obviously, 99% of real-life design projects aren’t sponsored by major appliance companies, so we work to educate potential clients on the true costs of furniture, design, and remodeling.

Example of our digital approval process for product and services.

Often our clients have never worked with a designer or contractor before and they aren’t really aware of how much quality materials and labor cost. After the initial Discovery process, we provide an itemized estimated budget based on customized project goals and the type of aesthetic a client gravitates toward.

Even the smallest projects have dozens of specifications. If you don’t line up estimates for all the pieces before you start construction, then that really beautiful bed (and quality mattress, please don’t skimp on that!) you imagined crawling into after months living in a construction zone won’t be there because you had to pay for the new furnace that nobody thought to budget for.

Cropped example of a paid invoice via our invoice management platform.

What on Earth is Procurement?

Basically, it’s buying your stuff for you. More specifically, it means we manage all vendor coordination, purchasing, shipping, and delivery as a one-stop shop for you. We put together a proposal that usually includes several phases, and once you’ve made your payment we do all the tedious (and let’s be real, annoying) work of placing a gazillion orders and figuring out ETAs for each piece. We even use an invoice management system so you can see exactly what you have and haven’t paid for throughout the course of the project. It’s super user-friendly and much easier than keeping track of all the paper copies of your receipts.

Most of our projects involve custom fabricated pieces or to-the-trade only items, but not all clients opt for full-service design with procurement. If you want to stretch your budget a bit more, we offer design only services for people who feel comfortable (and have the time) to manage all the ordering on their own.  We prefer to provide a soup-to-nuts style service, however it's important that we have options for clients at different budget levels.

Stay tuned to learn about the next step in our process: Project Management.


March 15, 2019 - No Comments!

Working With Birdhouse: How Our Process Works for You

Recent kitchen and dining room project.

I get it. Remodeling and design projects are often stressful. There's a mile-long to-do list to manage and endless design decisions to make. And most people find jumping into a sea of unknowns a bit overwhelming. But working with a designer and well-reviewed contractor can help you get that gorgeous kitchen completed faster, with less stress producing headaches along the way. So we wanted to outline what it’s like working with us, and how partnering with a designer can benefit your pocket book and your good night's sleep.

We like happy client calls - so having processes in place to avoid timeline delays and costly mistakes is what drives our model. Our philosophy is that the design process should be fun, but also useful for you. If we don't understand how to get from point A to dot Z on a project, the process is chaotic and often gets held up. What’s more, without a good plan in place, budgets are often much harder to manage since nobody really knows where to spend next. That kind of experience is more stressful, which totally sucks, and not what we want around here. But with a plan in place, you get your dream space while still staying within budget goals. 

We focus on 4 main areas of every project: Discovery + Creative, Budgeting + Procurement, Project Coordination, and Construction + Installation.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll dive deeper into each section and how they work for you. Let’s start this week with one of the best parts: Discovery + Creative.

Beginning mood board presented during the Discovery process. Project includes full-service interior design for a remote renovation project.


We need to learn as much as possible about all project goals before we do anything else. So first we ask a ton of questions. Is the project commercial or residential? What year was your house built? How do you need this space to function? Do you have a target demographic? Are you going to host awesome dinner parties and invite us over?

It’s important for us to get to know you, and your space, in order for us to truly deliver a design that works. This goes beyond throw pillows. It starts to answer how you want to live, work, and use the spaces we’re designing.

Every project at Birdhouse follows a beginning checklist that includes:

  • an initial interview/survey
  • style consultation
  • tour of project site for a million different floor plan and furniture measurements
  • plenty of reference photos
  • notes on what will benefit the well being of our clients' personal and professional lives

After we've wrapped up the Discovery portion (though, we'll continue to learn more as we go) it's time for what we all came here for: The Creative.


Presentation mood board for a residential full-service interior design project in Omaha, NE.


Example of working drawings during the Creative process for a kitchen design completed by Birdhouse in Albuquerque, NM. Project included floor plan reconfiguration, drawings and elevations, materials list and remote project coordination.

In this phase, plans are prepared for the design of the space along with presentation of materials including all schematic design. We play with samples and showcase all the interesting ways we can make a space feel really original.

What's schematic design, you ask?

  • mood boards
  • color scheme
  • product spec information
  • finish samples and installation schedule
  • floor plans
  • elevations and renderings
  • environmental branding

We focus on how the space functions and feels. Are we helping you create a cozy living room to host family hang out time? Or do you need a shared eating area for your commercial office? Each project needs a customized floor plan to accommodate traffic flow, user needs, and client / brand personality. We look to develop a specific layout of all the built-ins and furniture in materials that best fit the project.

Our process is a collaboration between Birdhouse, the team of people we've put together for the project, and our clients. We encourage plenty of feedback so we can work together to get a more detailed finished project. Often our plans include coordination with graphic designers, contractors, and architects when working as the creative director on larger scale remodeling or commercial projects.

Interested in hiring Birdhouse Design Studio for your next interior design or remodeling project? Let's get an initial consultation set up for you!