What Is the Interior Design Procurement Process? Behind the Scenes Series




The actual procurement (purchasing) of the items happens after the custom design is created, presented and approved by the client. This is a very time-intensive step in the process – often filled with many obstacles.

Here is a summary of what the interior design procurement process entails:

Detailed price requests to the supplier.

    • Each detail of the item must be specified and priced. For example a simple throw pillow will include:

      • The pillow insert (from one vendor) – what size and what fill (down, polyester, a blend). And if you do want the blend, do you want 50/50 or 60/40 or 90/10. There are a LOT of decisions for just a pillow insert.

      • The pillow fabric (from a second vendor) – and how much, based on the pattern and repeat of the pattern, and size of the pillow.

      • The trim (from potentially a third vendor) – unless we specify a knife edge or self cording (using the pillow fabric itself)

      • The labor (from a fourth vendor)

    • Another example is for drapery components, as you see in this image below.

      • From the top and moving from left to right, you must specify what type of finial, rings, and color of the hardware. The second row from left to right, what type of bracket do you want, and do you need a rod connector; most of these we source at a single vendor. And the final row, from left to right, you must select your fabric, confirm the yardage necessary – which will vary dependent on the height of the window and what type of top pleat you want (if any), factor in the labor – also determined by size and style – and finally, whether or not you want the drapery panels lined.

        And this is just if you’re doing simple panels!



Creation of an accurate purchase order (PO) for each vendor.

You can see that a simple pillow requires up to four PO’s – the drapery panels at least three.

Ordering a Cutting For Approval (CFA), and then approving.

This is when you get a sample of the actual fabric you’ll be ordering. Sometimes it is not the same as the sample you originally had, because of the different dye lots. So it give you the chance to confirm what you want is what you get.

Reviewing the acknowledgment.

Every single email and attachment must be 100% confirmed to ensure the vendor understands our order and is placing it correctly with their people.

Arranging for the receiver.

This is a third party service that professionally receives, inspects, stores, catalogues and delivers the items. Most freight companies will only deliver to a facility that has a bay door or dock. We have to provide them with a list of what is going to be arriving and who it is for.

Receiving photos for every.single.item the receiver receives and inspects.

It is imperative to confirm every single item is received in good condition (and is the right item!). If it shows up damaged, we must determine if it can be repaired professionally or if it needs to be sent back to the vendor.

There is bookkeeping associated with each of these steps:

    • Creating an accurate invoice.
    • Deposit the client payment for the items.
    • Post and reconcile.
    • Pay the vendors, the freight companies, the receiving company, and any separate installations.
    • Track items, orders, receipts, invoices and PO’s and reconcile.

Old school project binder. We keep everything electronically now.


Problem resolution.

Of course there are always problems to resolve. Maybe the fabric specified for the aforementioned pillow is no longer in stock – do you wait until it is back in stock? Or replace it immediately? Maybe the fabric is discontinued between when you originally sourced it for the design and when you are actually ordering. Thankfully, we have exceptional relationships with our product representatives and they can assist in finding a solution (this is a huge benefit of working with a reputable interior designer).

Document Everything.

And finally, every single step of the interior design procurement process is documented with the dates…date ordered, date shipped, date received, and finally – date delivered and installed!

I’m sure I forgot something. Thankfully, we have everything pre-programmed into our project management software, so we are not relying solely on our memory. Plus, we have about 99 checklists for each project.



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