The Interior Design Process- Part 2 

I shared the earliest stage of the Interior Design Process with you in Part 1.

 I covered:

  • The Scope 
  • The Location
  • The Feel
  • The Inspiration

I went into depth about how I was inspired by certain items that went on to inform my choices for Concept and Mood Board. I shared the first three pages of my Design Rationale, which also covered my Colour and Lighting Rationales for my Concept and Mood Boards, although Lighting didn’t really come into play at that point. Now that you have everything established up to your Mood Board, you can move on to Sample Boards, which will be covered in this post. 

How to make a Sample Board

The Sample Board below is from The Merryfield project that I shared in my last post. I completed this project during my final year of Interior Design School. This Sample Board  is for the living room space in my hotel suit project. The fictional hotel is called “The Merryfield.”

Obviously it is important to have your floor plan and sourced items settled before you start a sample board. Let me very briefly touch on that. We were given a floor plan to use for this project. It included furniture and fixtures, but those were to be removed and replaced with our own Furniture Plan. This was the original floor plan with furniture (Furniture Plan) we were given:

Obviously some pieces of furniture may be in the same location in my new Furniture Plan, as the space often dictates placement. If you already have a floor plan, it’s essential to know what scale it was drawn to or the exact measurements so that you can draw it to scale.  Make sure you have a scale ruler. These are inexpensive and can be found at most shops that sell stationary and art supplies. It’s also helpful to have a scale furniture template. Most of these are sold at 1:50 scale. If your floor plan is 1:50 scale, simply find out the dimensions of your products and draw them using your scale ruler at 1:50 and your 1:50 furniture template. It’s best to layer tracing paper over your floor plan so that you can play around with it before using pen on your floor plan. Also, be sure that you have technical pens to get nice straight lines. As you can see in the above Furniture Plan, there is an industry standard to drawing architectural floor plans. If you are drawing your own home and you’re not a professional, you don’t really need to worry about getting this exact. Just draw the walls of your home in the right scale to be used with your ruler and template and you will be fine. There are plenty of books out there that deal with interior design drawing if you are interested. 

So I removed the furniture in the given Furniture Plan and made my own:

After making sure that all of my items were the correct dimensions and playing around with furniture placement on my tracing paper, I settled on my Furniture Plan. I used technical pens and then coloured pencils and markers. As this project is multiple spaces, I made Sample Boards for each space. On to the Sample Boards! 

How to Make a Sample Board

Let’s go back to my finished Living Room Sample Board as an example:

Sample Board Basics:

  • Make sure that your final sample board includes all relevant samples for the space.
  • When compiling a board, it’s best to keep flooring samples on the bottom and work your way up. You can see that I have a concrete tile to represent the concrete floor and a rug sample in the bottom left. Just above the rug sample is a rectangular piece of teak that is a sample of the wood panelling for the wall behind the sofa. Travel upwards, so that you end with the things on the wall like art and mirrors as well as all ceiling lighting at the top of your board.
  • The sofa is the biggest piece of furniture in this room and it is represented by the biggest photo on this board. 
  • Never put your biggest piece directly in the centre of your board. Keep it off-centre for a better composition, otherwise the eye will go directly to the sofa and not move around. You want the eye to move around, not focus on one thing and get stuck there
  • Keep fabric samples next to the item they belong to. For instance, the yellow fabric is the actual fabric of that sofa, so it’s directly next to it. It wouldn’t make sense to have it in another area of the board to make the viewer search it out. 
  • Use thick board for your boards, not poster board, which would be too flimsy. I prefer dark grey for my boards. Everything really pops on a dark background. Do not use scissors to cut thick board, as it will rarely result in a straight, smooth edge. Sometimes art shops will cut it for you to the size needed, if not, use a paper guillotine or a sharp craft knife and metal ruler. 
  • When I first started making boards I often tried to use double sided tape, because it’s thin and easy to use. I found that in time the item would sometimes fall off or the tape would yellow some paper. I try to keep it to double sided foam tape or pads now, unless I’m dealing with a light weight fabric sample. Double sided tape does seem to work for some fabric samples.
  • Every photo will look better if it isn’t simply a piece of paper stuck to your board. Mounting is always best. Make sure you cut foam board for mounting slightly smaller than your photo and with an inward slant so that it isn’t seen, but just appears to make the photo hover slightly above the board. 
  • Using fabric samples- the best way to add a fabric sample to your boards to cover the entire back of the sample with a layer or multiple layers of masking tape. Once you have it taped so that it feels like one sturdy piece rather than a flimsy piece of fabric, cut the size you need with pinking shears to keep it from fraying. After cutting, adhere double sided tape or foam pads onto the back of the masking tape. 
  • Make sure to leave a border all the way around your sample board. The border on the sides and top should be the same thickness, but make the bottom border a bit bigger. 
  • Try to keep the space between each sample the same, unless you’re overlapping pieces, such as the two blue fabrics at the bottom of my board. I layered them because the bottom fabric is for the chair next to it and the darker blue on top is for a throw cushion that will sit on the chair. That gives you an idea of how the two fabrics will work together

Necessary items to have on your Sample Board:

  • A Title Block- It’s a good idea to create a template so that you have the same Title Block on all of your boards for consistency.  I prefer to make a template and then use the Pages app to type it using a typeface that looks like handwriting. It just looks cleaner than hand writing in your Title Block. 

           This is the Title Block that I made for my boards in the Pages app for iPad:

  • A Key- Each sample should have a number to correspond with the item in your key. You may prefer to list the item next to the photo rather than have a key. I personally prefer to have a small number next to each photo and sample as I think it makes the board less cluttered visually. 
  • Company business card- On this project I made myself a business card that only included my name. It makes the board seem more professional. Try to keep all items like business cards, key, and Title Block together. 
  • Client Business Card or Name- I included a business card for my fictional hotel, The Merryfield, on all boards for this project. That is completely up to you. You may simply want to write the client’s name in the Title Block. 
  • Drawing- I included a rendered elevation of this particular space on this board. That is not something that you must do on every board, but it is very helpful to look at the individual samples and photos and see a drawing of how the space will look. 

An elevation drawing is simply a drawing that makes it seem as if you’re looking at a wall in a room rather than looking down on a space from above like on a floor plan. 
If you’re not using a CAD program to do your drawings, and I wasn’t on this one, never underestimate the power of a good app to help you out. I often use Sketch Guru and the Adobe apps for iPad.

 I used Sketch Guru for iPad for the furniture in the above elevation drawing, as hand rendering wasn’t required on this project. This app is really handy on boards for an item that is shown in a different colour than the colour you’re proposing. Simply put it into Sketch Guru and turn it into a drawing and then put a sample of the actual fabric next to it, or use it for drawings like I did in my elevation drawing. 

Before you make your actual board:

  • Even if you are in a rush to make your board, be sure to wait for all samples to arrive. Sometimes you may receive a sample that is much smaller than inticipated and may not fit the space that you designated for it.
  • Over time I’ve realised that I take around four hours to make a sample board. That’s not time spent designing the scheme or requesting samples, that’s actual time to put the board together. That’s four hours of printing, mounting, and cutting out photos and then deciding where to put those photos on the board. You can save a lot of time by making a digital board first.

 How to quickly make an E-Board
 1. Take photos of samples. Use these in the digital board for placement. Just make sure that when you’re arranging your images on your iPad or computer, that you use your measurement guides and don’t make your sample images bigger than your actual samples.
 2. Once I know what colour my board is, I open up my Pages app on my iPad. Simply fill the background of your Pages document with that same colour of your board and arrange your images until you get a balanced and harmonious composition. Make sure that you arrange it so that the dark background is always in the back and then lock it. A digital board will save you loads of time by not having to print and cut out images until you get it right.
The board below is an example of a board I made in my Pages app to play around with the composition of my actual sample board. It was close, but not quite there. This composition didn’t allow me room to attach my rug sample. I continued to tweak the iPad version of my sample board until I got it right.

This is photo of my almost-finished sample board. At this point the board doesn’t include the key or the elevation drawing. You can see that I pencilled in lines to give me a guide for sample placement.

And one final look at my complete board. 

These are the rest of my Sample Boards for The Merryfield project:

Dining Space 


Entry, Hallway and Walk-In Closet



Rendered Furniture Plan and Elevation Drawing

I hope you enjoyed this post! I’ll walk you through making Design, Colour Lighting Rationales as well as how to make a very professional looking Furniture Book.

April Guthrie 

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