Installation Day

Filed under Organization, Quick Reference Guides

Installation Day

What is the most exciting time of a design project? Install Day(s)! When you work on a project from vision to construction to receiving product, you just can’t wait to pull it all together.

How do you best prepare for install?

Installation is hard enough, because, as we know, things happen! I organize myself to minimize the stress on the day. You need to really prepare yourself, so you can allow for your creative juices to still be alive when styling the project:)

For me, it is not just about the day. The magic starts several weeks before the actual installation.

Three Weeks Before Installation

  • Check inventory
  • Order light bulbs- go through all specified lighting and check manufacturer’s websites
  • Purchase or memo any non-specified items:
    • Accessories
    • Art
    • Bedding

Check Inventory

I use a receiver to “receive” all of my client’s new purchases, note any damages that may have incurred during shipping and store everything until they are needed. Receivers are the BEST thing since sliced bread!

When I first started designing, I tried so many ways to “receive” goods!

  • I shipped everything to my client’s home during construction, only to find half of the stuff damaged
  • I shipped things to my home, which quickly filled my garage. Ummm. Non-starter

Finding a great receiver who receives, open, inspects and photographs all of the items- and manages damages and returns is NIRVANA. You just have to be diligent about going through the reports and compare them with reports from Studio Webware (or your inventory lists.)

Order Lightbulbs

Return on Interiors®

Light Specification Sheet

How do you find out what lightbulbs to order?

  • Download your lighting specification sheets.
  • I have circled the magic information for you in the image above.
  • The socket, wattage and number are the important details.  For this light , I needed 2 candelabra bulbs with a max wattage of 40.

Sometimes, the info isn’t on the manufacturer’s website, so you may have to contact the manufacturer directly. I usually ask for a link showing the lightbulb, to take any guesswork out of it.

Then, I determine if the bulb should be clear or frosted. I use clear bulbs when I want them to show and frosted for any that are hidden. If you use clear in a lamp, you will often highlight the metal framing of the lampshade. Yuck!

Memo Additional Items

When getting prepared for an install my creative juices start flowing. I visualize the space and often see holes in the design plan that can be filled with additional accessories. This also happens because clients start purging or they realize that they really should have had me buy new bedding.

I install the memo’d items and leave behind any pricing and/invoices invoices at the home for the client to approve after the install. Many showrooms allow designers to do this.

Two Weeks Before Installation

Check Inventory- Again!

Check inventory again. I know, it sounds redundant, but when you have 25 or more sheets of inventory, sometimes things trickle in at the end.

I also make sure to walk the job site and take notes of any items I think could or should be added to make the spaces special.  Again, I will buy or memo the noted items for the homeowner’s approval. I often see how a space could go from good to great at this stage.

A Week Before Installation

Tool Time!

I check my installation kit(s) and make sure I have everything. What is in my installation kit? Well, I have labeled, clear plastic tubs with many, many items. Below is only a partial list! (You can download the ENTIRE list at the end of this post!)

  • Tools
    • Hammer
    • Box cutters
    • Tape measures
    • Level
    • Nails and screws
  • Parts
    • Knobs
    • Harps for lamps
    • Finials for lamps
  • Cleaning supplies
    • Towels and rags
    • Gloves
    • Booties
    • Windex
  • Fixers (things to fix!)
    • Various Tapes
    • Felt pads in all shapes and sizes
    • Scissors
    • Sharpies
    • Paint pens
  • First Aid
    • Advil/asprin
    • BandAids
    • Rubbing alcohol

I make sure to label my measuring tapes, box cutters and tools. They often get mixed up with the worker’s tools!

The Day Before Installation

Gather all of the my client specific items and load them in my car.

Client Materials

  • Client Binder
  • Client Checklist
  • Contractor Punch list
  • Final drawings
  • Invoices
  • Inventory list

Then, I make sure my goodies are in the car!

For Me:

  • Drinks
  • Gum
  • Phone Charger
  • Phone Speaker for music
  • Protein bars
  • Water (case)

The Day of Installation


After some major espresso in the morning, I am pumped! I feel like Rocky when he reaches the top of those stairs! OK, then I take a shower and get dressed.

I always wear something comfortable, breathable and put together.  I often wear a stretchy dress or stretchy pants with a short sleeve blouse. Yes, I would be more comfortable in sweats, but I want to dress the part. It helps me get my game face on.

I try to have something that has pockets. I swear I spend half of the install time trying to find my cell phone when I don’t do this! A designer friend always wears an apron with pockets to hold her phone, measuring tape, screwdriver, hammer and nails. I love this!

Once You Arrive

I arrive about 30 minutes before the delivery trucks. I walk the house to see if there are any red flags- painters painting a room, an electrician installing a light fixture, etc.

YES! It happens on EVERY job! I note the red flags and make sure I get a plan B in order. I have been known to say, “Just put all of the furniture in the hallway for the master bedroom, and then let’s check the room at the end and place the furniture.”

Sometimes, I need a plan C or D. Ha!

I take a copy of floor plan of the job (when I am doing a remodel or new build) with the room names written on it and tape it to the front door. If I don’t have a plan, I write the room names on a piece of paper with arrows and directions and tape that to the door. This may sound ridiculous, but when you are installing a 9,000sf home, it is a must!

I greet the movers when they arrive and take them on a house tour. Once they know where all of the rooms are, I get my inventory list out. Studio Webware has an inventory report with the  item name and a photo which I can print by room. I give the movers a copy and keep one for myself. That way, if I am attending to something, they don’t have to stop their work to find me.

Once the furniture has been placed and the bed frames are put together, I usually attack the accessories. I put art where I want it to go, place lightbulbs in their lights and make the beds. I usually get help from a cleaning crew to break down boxes and dispose of them, take stickers off of accessories, start making beds and clean anything that is dusty.

My receivers have movers who can hang pictures, etc. so I will work on hanging art right then and there! When they finish, I always tip big:) They are really life savers and I thank them profusely! Anyone else helping out, also gets a tip from me and if we are working during a meal, I often have pizza brought in and bring in drinks. Sometimes, food does make work go faster:)

There is always so much more when installing and would love to hear your tips!

I have also made up an extensive checklist with all of the items in my toolkits, which you can download here:

Click Here to Download the Installation Day Toolkit!

This download is fabulous for getting ready three weeks in advance. It has taken so much pressure off of me during the actual day, days or week spent installing. If you have any designer friends who may benefit from this, please share.

Enjoy your week!



PS. Don’t forget to download the Installation Day Toolkit!