Student Accomodation Design: Expectations vs. Reality

| Riccardo Del Bello | Interior Design Tips

Hello Design Lovers! This is an exciting time for us because between September and October eleven of our projects are opening. We are looking forward to showing you our new projects, and we are getting a lot of photos from the construction sites. It’s really exciting!

Among others, one almost completed (communal areas on their way!) is the Utrecht scheme Rock. The bedrooms look just like the CGI, even better which is not a given.

bedroom expectation vs realityCan you spot the render and the real one?

It has been a tough process, and the learning curve was steep. But most of all consistency and meticulous attention to details made the trick in the end. Recalling these months of work and how the final results are coming together then, I thought I’d discuss what could go wrong when following the development of an interior design and how to avoid such issues.

Interestingly enough, this is not only an issue for the designer. One might think that a developer or investor will mostly focus on the interior design appearance. Quite a few times in these two years instead, I have been asked if I could make sure that the final result would have looked as good as in the renders. It seems, in fact, that very often the reality does not match the idealistic expectations set by a CGI. That’s because everything in a CGI is idealised. They are used for marketing purposes, so they have to look as appealing as possible.

All in all, this is not an easy question to answer though. There are so many things that can go wrong, and the sheer amount of disasters that I managed to avoid by constantly triple-checking drawings and surveys is incredible!


Let’s dive into it

  1. The first thing to pay attention to is when sending the design out for the tender phase. The supplier then has to come back with the list of prices for each item. One thing that could easily impact the final look of an interior is finding out that the materials or solutions used to implement it were not on par with your expectation. If details in the drawings are not perfectly clear, it might happen that cheaper material is specified by the supplier. It is crucial in this phase then to give extremely detailed specifications and add images to the tender drawings, as to avoid leaving any grey area or anything opened to interpretation.
    technical drawing

  2. On top of that, and according to the resources available, it is sometimes useful to add a more visual presentation as a separate addendum to show exactly what you want to achieve. Often a picture is worth a thousand words. So, 3D views realised with Sketchup (like the ones we show in our Instagram Polls), for instance, are a good solution as they are quicker and cheaper than photorealistic CGIs. This way it is easier to show the entire space to clients and third-party consultants at an early stage. A further prevention measure could be asking the contractor to submit a very detailed list of all the materials they plan to use. Also, make sure that in their offer they clearly state, in writing, that the level of quality and specs will match the drawing’s specifications. The contractor should also produce shop drawings for the interior designer’s approval.

  3. Another variable to consider is the Coordination. With the lengthy back and forth between all the parties, there are many miscommunications that can happen. Surprisingly, I’m not talking necessarily about my own. For example, though, the contractor and the suppliers (or the mechanical engineer or any other third-party consultant) may not coordinate well. Even though this is not the interior designer’s responsibility, the result of this might eventually affect the interior design.
    expectations vs reality coordination

  4. An example? Sockets in the wrong place. Coordination is very important as way too many people are involved in a construction process. That’s why systems like BIM and Revit are becoming so essential even in the interior design industry.
  5. Getting colours wrong. Make sure to approve samples in person. Whether it’s paint, textile, tiles, grouting, laminate, vinyl floor, or any other material. Avoid approving materials basing your opinion on photos. It’ll save you bad surprises!
    samples in person

  6. The ideal way should be to check everything in person. Or at least have someone who is fully aware of what the intended look is like doing it for you. This is especially true if the site is far from where you work. Or like it happens right now, when there are significant restrictions to the free circulation between countries.

About A Designer at Heart...

So far (and from new projects that we’ll showcase soon), we are particularly proud of our CGIs Vs Reality, or Expectations Vs Reality comparison. Both in the case of the Zernike Project (article cover) and the Rock Student Accommodation bedrooms. Judge by yourself and let us know what you think about it!

Finally, Another important Update! A few days ago the voting phase for this year's Amara Interior Blog Awards 2020 started! If you'd like to support us please don't forget to vote for us HERE! Support A Designer at Heart at the Amara IBA 2020

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Riccardo Del Bello

Written by: Riccardo Del Bello

Riccardo is the marketing manager and partner of A Designer at Heart. He is in charge of the development and brand definition of the company for its marketing activities.


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