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Design Spread Sheet Method

A Framework for Design:

“Space Analysis is the essential starting point of Interior Design thinking.”

Faced with functional problems, design trends, enclosure issues, or economic situations in a remodeling project, the interior decorator/contractor sorts them into essential parts.

Then, having uncovered the significance of these parts, they reassemble them in a way calculated to maximize the design advantage.

“In design,” the object of the process is to bring about the requirements most favorable to the space by evaluating precisely the right point to add or change the space elements while considering each area’s limitations correctly.

Besides examining the space, what demonstrates the mind of the interior decorator/contractor is an intellectual ability or flexibility that allows them to arrive at practical answers to changing conditions, not merely to determine with great accuracy among different items or colors.

The purpose of interior design is to maximize space design advantage or uniqueness. This purpose implies picking the correct item to use, the right style to incorporate, the accurate color to use, considering and analyzing as circumstances alter, but consistently achieving top edge in mind.

Interior Design is intuitive, but it is also calculative; it is reasonable, but it is also instinctive.

Calculative is a cognitive process of splitting a complex area into three smaller parts to understand it better. Analyzing means unraveling a situation into three parts and examining each piece to comprehend what is materializing in the space.

The interior design analysis involves:

  • Determining the space or area needs related to circumstances or the function.
  • Pinpointing critical matters.
  • Specifying possible design solutions.

Determine one of the 4 Critical Issues

This interior design issue determines the one point that matters most, “The essential issue_the focal point for both the enclosure and their functional area. There also could be in some design a focal point for the decorative decor”.

To accomplish this, you must communicate the question correctly.

Suppose a residential space is drastically outdated.


What are the pertinent questions?

  1. What do you want as your main focal point for the enclosure (the ceiling, walls, floor, etc.)?
  2. How do you use this space?
  3. What design style do you prefer?

Each of the three questions will produce a different answer.

It is required to answer the first question before proceeding to the second and third. Unfortunately, many interior decorators/contractors ignore the first two critical questions and focus on the third.

It takes specific disciplined creativeness to examine what everyone else accepts for granted.

Some interior decorators/contractors can intuit the essential issue, but they are rare.

Analytical techniques can assist everyone who reaches a workable description of the essential issue.


This method can apply to a comprehensive spectrum of design issues:

  1. List the vision or usage. (e.g., What is the space’s focal point?). Ask, ‘What are the supportive items?’
  2. Determine the issue elements (e.g., fireplace, stairway, windows, etc.).
  3. Inquiry each issue element. (e.g., Can the fireplace be changed?). Examine some of the advantages and also disadvantages of transforming that element.
  4. Suggest a specific method of action for each element.


Another one of the Critical Issue is the Four Approach Guides

Interior design thinking and formulation is to maximize space advantage or uniqueness.

The interior design wouldn’t be needed if all interiors were the same.

This point suggests that the essential interior design issue is advantage or uniqueness.

A space can accept specific design issues but cannot persist with interior design weaknesses.

Allowing the space condition to deteriorate by poor item choices means the advantage or uniqueness decides the space’s fate.

The interior decorator/contractor thinks differently when encountering space advantage or uniqueness.

This thought process changes their direction.

They acknowledge that the best space is the space with the design advantage or uniqueness.

Good enough space is not Good enough for this project.

There’s a reason for searching for the perfect advantage, uniqueness, or interior design situation.

The object is to gain an advantage or uniqueness over the existing situation at a reasonable cost.

An interior decorator/contractor can seek that perfect solution if money and time restraints are unnecessary.

If you do that frequently enough and you will have a great project.

An interior decorator/contractor can be achieved this technique in four different ways:

  1. Fine-Tune Resources.
  2. Create Superior.
  3. Challenge Existing.


Fine-tune Resources

Every space has one or two elements that determine the space’s advantage or uniqueness.

No matter how complex the house may seem, at its core, it is straightforward.

Housing, for example, an interior enclosure advantage could be a grand fireplace, a high ceiling, large windows, etc.

A decorator/contractor can determine the essential factors in a house in several ways.

One way is to analyze the house and each area to define how to create an advantage or uniqueness in each room. Then, finding some overall judgments about the advantage or uniqueness factors.

Another way is to investigate the choices of other houses and their spaces to define the situation, functional advantages, or needed resources that caused the difference.

Once you have determined the critical factor for advantage or uniqueness in your home, re-assign your resources to focus on creating strength in that vital factor.

If it is functional, focus your energies on designing a significant operational area.

If decor design is an essential missing factor, focus on that.


Create Superior

Analyze your enclosure, functional areas, and decor to determine where you can concentrate on acquiring a comparative advantage or uniqueness.

This method may mean directly comparing your space or elements, finding similar house components or features, and then comparing the two.

For example, comparing two identical houses in the same subdivision is easy. Design expertise is needed if the house is not in the same subdivision but has a similar floor plan.

The two houses were comparable in quality, but house 1 had more oversized windows, which meant more sunlight and a better view outside. House 2 couldn’t compete with more oversized windows, but it could create a superior kitchen, and House 2 decided an exceptional kitchen was better than large windows.

The interior designer who relies on comparable strength should consider House 1 likely reactions to each improvement to House 2 if that was ever an issue. House 2 would have to prepare to protect against those responses.

Or if any of the neighboring homes started to remodel.

Example 2 could be using the same thought in the current house that a client lives in, debating about moving for a larger kitchen or oversized windows.


Challenge Existing.

This method questions ‘Why?’ to understand every item or area generally taken for conventional wisdom in the home.

Asking WHY the living room needs a fireplace, a beautiful stairway, or oversized windows?

Asking WHY, does the kitchen need granite countertops, a wine cooler, or an island?

Asking WHY, does the bathroom need two bowl sinks, an extra-large shower with two heads, or a heated floor?

Asking WHY, does the bedroom need a walk-in closet, a king-size bed, or a ceiling fan?

Just Keep questioning Why. Significant breakthroughs come from responding to this question.



Limited time: if this project is based on a short time frame for completion, then the interior designer must pick and choose which items and areas to spend time developing.

If the owners move in a few years or months, the wish list is different for a forever home.


Limited finances: if this project is based on limited finances for completion, the interior designer must choose which items and areas to spend time developing.

Once again, if the owners are moving in a few years or months, the wish list can be much different for a forever home.

Limited skills: if this project is based on limited skills for completion, the interior designer must pick and choose which items and areas to spend time developing.

Also, if the owners are moving in a few years or months, the wish list is much different for a forever home.


Try to avoid mistakes by using the Design Spread Sheet Method thinking:

Avoid_Tunnel vision; continue to do what you have or always have done.

Use_You must keep alternatives in view at all times.

There are three essential areas of how to design a space:

the enclosure, the functional areas, and the decorative decor.


Avoid_All or nothing

Use_In fact, half a loaf, even a quarter, is preferable to none.

If the enclosure areas are not to be designed or it’s a townhome/condo or rental property, then the basic structure is not available to develop. The focus can be on the functional and the decor areas.


The DSSM Design Triangle

Think of interior design as a triangle with three sides: the enclosure, the functional areas, and the decorative decor.

Modifications in any of these characteristics affect the house and may make it essential to change the method.

However, interior design change is usually challenging.


Here are some design examples:

A. The Enclosure :

The enclosure method or direction or approach is to organize the outer limits of the space.

  • Floors
  • Walls
  • Ceiling
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Stairway
  • Fireplace
  • Lighting
  • Molding and trim
  • Architectural elements
  • Electrical
  • Electronic
  • Plumbing
  • HVAC

An old expression suggests that when the only item you have is paint, then every problem looks like it needs to be painted. Beware. Interior Design must comprehensively address immediate opportunities/issues and ‘what if’ outcomes.

Designers outsource some items or elements to other companies for them to make a clear decision on an object, such as a fireplace or stairway. Usually, based on costs, they stay with their expertise and focus their resources on what they do best.

B. Functional areas:

The functional area’s method, direction, or approach are the activities in the spaces.

  • Kitchen
  • Dining Room
  • Living Room
  • Family Room
  • Entry
  • Bath
  • Hallway
  • Bedroom
  • Child Bedroom
  • Primary Bedroom
  • Primary Bathroom
  • Recreational Area
  • Office/Work/Study Space
  • Porch/Sun Room


Generally, a designer should identify one functional area or several areas for the space and concentrate on them instead of trying to satisfy the entire room.

This method suggests knowing your functional areas very well and comprehending why you could have a relative knowledge of this space.

C. Decorative Decor:

The decorative decor method, direction, or approach are the additive items to create the style in the space.

  • Accessories Decor
  • Lamps/Lightings
  • Textiles
  • Window Coverings
  • Rugs
  • Art/Art Works
  • Mirrors
  • Wall Art
  • Plant/Planter
  • Bath Accessories
  • Kitchen Accessories


Pursue areas where the design situation permits you to create a clear advantage or uniqueness.

The interior design concerns how skillfully to operate in a given visual and financial project; it would be inadvisable to ignore the significance of the overall economy.

Meanwhile, technological advancements or modifications in the housing structure may derail designs based on past assumptions.

Be mindful, use foresightedness and never stop questioning ‘Why?’


Remember that your objective in creating an interior design is to gain an advantage or uniqueness.

Many little actions can provide to advantage or uniqueness to the home design.

Interior design thinking involves foreseeing what could occur in the circumstances and how it is achievable to shape or affect what is happening so that what one desires will occur.

Interior design thinking involves considering consequences and determining actions to accomplish the project’s objectives.

Interior design thinking concerns shifting the circumstances and characteristics to a space advantage or uniqueness.

Also, interior design thinking concerns asking the right questions in a solution-focused method and completing appropriately detailed analyses to develop a floor plan, a color scheme, a design style, and a detailed item list.

Interior design thinking also concerns anticipating real estate values and concern about the neighborhood.


In summary, Design Spread Sheet Method has three characteristics mindful for the interior decorator/contractor:

  1. Analysis_ is the essential starting point of interior design thinking.
  2. Solutions_decorator/contractor need educated flexibility and creativity to develop practical responses to varying situations.
  3. Questions_decorator/contractor needs to request the correct questions in a solution-focused method and complete appropriately detailed analyses to develop a floor plan, a color scheme, a design style, and a detailed item list.


The object of interior design is to “bring about the advantage or uniqueness of the space to the home. Help your homeowner thrive in its space.”